As a citizen of Portland, Oregon, I am fortunate to have plenty of local options readily available.
Over the years, I've become accustomed to having so much at hand. My favorite locally-owned eateries and boutiques have become a part of my normal repertoire - I can't imagine a week, or month, without them.
I was reminded this Holiday how lucky I am - and how I shouldn't take anything for granted.
My parents live in the outskirts of a small town near the West entrance to Glacier Park, Montana. There's lots to do outdoors and the scenery is beautiful but decent Thai food is hard to come by and local shopping choices are limited. Certainly no one stocks Alexander Wang or Rag & Bone - and the idea of "going out" is not an occasion that calls for stilettos.
I love visiting my parents. A stay is often filled with laughter, home-cooked food, and lazy mornings. It's a welcome break from a hectic schedule. But this Holiday, they came to stay with us...and they've been busy reminding me how lucky I am to have so many restaurants, shops, and establishments at the ready.
Many of these establishments are struggling in our down economy - and I certainly sympathize. I know first hand how hard it is to "make it". The store I was a part of for five plus years no longer exists.
Over the past six months, I've been reinventing what I do for a living. There have been struggles but I was and still am determined to look at evolution as a positive thing. That's not to say I didn't stomp my feet and scream profanities several times. Hey, change is hard.
They say the changes in your life shape you - they make you who you are - and I believe it. Years back I didn't stop to think before I spent my money. Now, I'm much more careful.
Before I buy, I take a moment to consider whether my purchase will support a neighbor, a friend, or someone close to home. We can't do it all... but we can at least do something. You may not have the time, energy (or in my parents case, the location) to do much.
But even my mother, who's as far away from the glitz and glam of the city as it can get, shops local. She gave me a cheerful, retro apron she found at a local nursing home bazaar. A little old lady made it. I will treasure it for years to come.
photo credit image from clip works flickr creative commons.