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Sue's Views: New American Christmas traditions

MORRIS - Every year about this time, I sit down and try to find a new way to remind you of the importance of shopping local. And I've been thinking about it since the first holiday display appeared in stores, right next to the back to school supplies.

But I think many of you have already gotten the e-mail titled, "Christmas 2011 Birth of a New Tradition." I know it's been in my inbox at least three times. There are some valid points included in the message, so just in case you haven't gotten this yet, please read on.

As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is!

Everyone - yes EVERYONE - gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?

Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants - all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint.

How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts­­people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. How about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre?

Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

THIS is the new American Christmas tradition.

This is caring about each other, and isn't that what Christmas is all about?

Time and space don't allow me to add much to this, other than to remind you that our American soldiers need to know we care about them as well. Perhaps you can buy an extra stamp and send a holiday card to a soldier. The Red Cross collects holiday cards from regular citizens all across the country and distributes them to service members, veterans, and their families. Send cards to:

Holiday Mail For Heroes

P.O. Box 5456

Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

All cards must be postmarked no later than Friday, Dec. 9. Cards postmarked after this date will unfortunately be returned to the sender. This deadline ensures enough time to sort and distribute cards before the holidays.