From the Editors: The gift of gratitude
November 18, 2020: Shop Local
All around the world, shopping small is going to look a little different this year.
Traditional European Christmas markets such as Nüremberg's Christkindlesmarkt (set in a quaint German village square), Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens Christmas Market (Danish amusement park rides festively aglow), and Barcelona's Fira de Santa Llucia (the Spanish capital's beautiful cathedral looming overhead) are all hallmarks of the holiday shopping season abroad — and likely several Hallmark movies. Tivoli and Fira will cautiously continue spreading yuletide cheer this year, but with COVID-19 spreading rapidly in Germany, Christkindlesmarkt has been canceled for the first time in 73 years.
North American reproductions of these cherished rites are also falling by the wayside, with the Toronto Christmas Market, Chicago's Christkindlmarket, and Philadelphia's Christmas Village being some of the more prominent examples. Although the Gem City has noelthing on the same scale as those major metropolises, our calendar section (still on print hiatus) is typically stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey with events such as WQLN's Holiday Craft Show, Asbury Woods' Schoolhouse Craft Festival, the Erie Handmade Fair, and the Made in Erie Marketplace. With dozens of pop-up stations featuring artists, artisans, and craftspeople of every persuasion, they are perfect occasions to pick up one-of-a-kind gifts. This year, however, they're all off the menu.
But just like Santa, just because you can't see a storefront doesn't mean they don't exist. E-commerce and social media marketing have provided a Rudolph-esque beacon of hope amidst a blizzard of uncertainty for independent sellers such as Katie LeVan, Kaitlyn Page, and Heather Cash. From Facebook to Etsy to Pinterest to Instagram, these talented local artists know firsthand about the cornucopia of creativity awaiting you behind your computer, tablet, and/or smartphone screens. If you can't buy, like, share, subscribe, or bookmark a website. And if you have a talent of your own worth sharing, the women say, please do not hide.
Erie's independently owned brick-and-mortar stores won't be, as their proprietors encourage safely supporting local on Shop Small Saturday (Nov. 28) and beyond. Wear a mask, wash and sanitize your hands, and get out and explore before the rush if you can. Whether you choose to do your shopping in-person (we might suggest the Shops at the Colony Plaza, which hosts 20 unique locally owned businesses) or online, Liz Allen and our annual Made in Erie Gift Guide (compiled by Nick Warren) should provide ample inspiration. If you've ever unenthusiastically unwrapped a box of whitey-tighties and tube socks on Christmas morning (or an embarrassing pink bunny costume), you're aware of the alternative.
Truly, gift-giving is an art. Like art, the "best" gifts are motivated by creativity, imagination, thought, and emotion. They are a reflection of both the giver and the recipient. They're memorable because their exchange uniquely frames some aspect of a relationship or connection. As we tear away their wrapping paper, we're inspired to laugh, cry, blush, jump up and down, roll our eyes, or just express our genuine gratitude.
In an especially miserly 2020, getting that kind of reaction is no small feat.