As you've no doubt heard, the economy is in shambles. No one's got any money at all, except for the people who are getting bailed out by us taxpayers, and people are cutting corners everywhere they can.
Of course, that includes Christmas. Maybe this year you get a little tree, or shave a few inches off the plasma TV, or (if you're really old school) your kids get a smaller orange in their stocking.
All over the news there's stories about major retailers worried about their profit margins, and while that's bad in a trickle-down economics sort of way, consider for a minute how this affects the smaller retailers or, worse still, the people who rely on retail to supplement their income. Think of the craftsmen and the artisans who operate without profit margins and don't have the luxury of having their goods on display in the local Wal-Mart.
You know where this is going. Think of the artists.
In a good economy it's hard for an artist to break even and many of the day jobs artists hold are the first to get cut by a nervous employer.
So it occurs to me that no matter how bad the economy gets, people will be spending some amount of money on Christmas presents for their loved ones. And no matter how bad things get, people will be selling things they're making with little more than passion.
So why not combine the two?
Why not make a point of spending some of the money you've allotted for presents and buy your loved ones something they can't find in Wal-Mart? This has several advantages, including:
1. You get to "spread the wealth around" a little bit. Or, at very least, cover up some of the bare spots of poverty.
2. Your loved one gets something truly unique for Christmas, instead of whatever Amazon recommends.
3. You feel better about yourself.
Now I'm not saying that you should buy your grandmother a DVD of a locally-produced zombie movie. Certainly you can find her something that's been knit by a fellow old lady in your town. And you don't need to spend all your budget this way, but it wouldn't kill you to spend 50%.
And there's so many things you could buy. A DVD. Albums by fantastic musicians. Shirts. Comic books. A festival pass. You get the idea.
What do you say? And what other things are out there?