This is going to be a difficult holiday season.
Large gatherings are a no-no, and we have to be careful and cautious as the pandemic continues. Meanwhile, small retailers of all kinds will feel pressure as more of their usual customers stay at home or shop from gargantuan online retailers. But we all have the ability to take some of the edge off, by making a point of supporting local businesses.
Many of these retailers now have the option of purchasing gift cards. And such a purchase directs cash to those businesses immediately — not in a week or a month, not whenever you get around to it. Right now.
Gift cards also make ideal presents for friends, family and acquaintances. They’re convenient to mail, pop inside of a card or slide underneath a Christmas tree.
We’re still smack in the middle of a long period of angst and uncertainty. Vaccines and other effective treatments for the coronavirus beckon, but they’re not here yet. Meanwhile, we have either been largely sheltering in place or being careful in our day-to-day activities.
Some of us continue to work from home. Others don a mask and open their shop or restaurant. Some students are back in school, with masks and distancing, others are learning remotely, still others toggle between the two. None of us have gone unaffected.
So it will be tempting to do one of two things as Thanksgiving and Christmas approach. On one hand, some of us may decide to avoid the holiday altogether and celebrate minimally. On the other hand, some of us may decide to celebrate as though the virus doesn’t exist.
Both of these options are about ourselves, about our own feelings. They’re putting us ahead of other people. With the first, we’re withdrawing into a shell. With the second, we may be creating unsafe conditions for those we love.
Wouldn’t it be better — wouldn’t it be best — to put others first?
This season, think about your family and friends, about all of your loved ones. What would help them and make their lives better? For that matter, think about your community, about the small businesses that are hanging on and hoping for better days. What would help them?
Buying a handful of gift cards might seem like a small thing. But this season, if you’re thinking about everyone, it might just be the best thing.