my friend tyla and i went fair trade chocolate shopping recently.  to me, this is a fun outing.  i mean, you get chocolate.  you get to shop.  and you get to feel good about it.

we were looking at different kinds of chocolate and trying to discern which bars were most ethical and we happened upon one that surprised us.  it said that it was 76% fair trade.  that seemed so odd.  if you've gone 76%, why not go all the way.  why 76% and not 75%?  why tell us at all?  there's no legal reason they have to.

then i thought about my own life and the first time i tried to have a fair trade christmas.  i made it down to a couple nights before christmas without buying anything that wasn't ethically made.  and, i was broke.  then i remembered that my mom always got us pajamas.  and her mom had always gotten her pajamas.  my grandmother had died just a few years previous and since then, i'd taken up the mantle of buying pajamas for my mom.  it was a way to bless her.  to remember grandma.  to make her know she is cared for like a daughter even though her mom has passed on.  it was really important to me.  and all i had was $7.  

so, i was conflicted.  and i made a decision i'm not proud of.  i. went. to. walmart.  and while i was there, i. bought. a $5 fleece nightgown.  and when i checked out, i could not look the check out girl in the eyes.  i apologized to her. i knew she was underpaid and over worked.  i couldn't even imagine how the people that had made the gown were treated.  i was heart broken.

but it was the best i could do.  i was not ready to surrender my mom's pajamas.  and i didn't have the resources for something better.

probably, i could have made a different decision.  but i made that one.  and the point is not the decision i made.

to focus on the pajamas is to lose wonder.  it is to lose celebration.  it is to lose sight of the ability i had to imagine a different type of christmas and actually pursue it.  to focus on the one failure in a sea of beauty is to destroy hope.

so...some chocolate is 76% fair trade.  it is 24% slave made?  maybe?  but it. is. 76%. fair. trade!  let's celebrate that even as we pray for the other 24%. christmas was 90% fair trade.  the 10% is sad.  but the 90% is beautiful!

so...what percent of your christmas will be fair trade?  90%? 76%? 50%?  even 10%?
if last Christmas was 0%, 10% is something to celebrate!

i invite you to make a commitment.  to yourself.  to God. to your family. to your brothers and sisters around the world who need fair wages to live.  make a commitment to what % of your christmas will be fair trade.

and be realistic.  be gracious to yourself.  be honest.  and, by all means be. celebratory. about. every. single. percentage. that your Christmas is "orange."
11/26/2010 16:50:08

So I really want to say that this post makes me feel better about Orange Christmas. Sometimes it is hard to go all out and drop the shopping completely (as hard as I tried, I could not avoid a good deal or two). But I thought more about where things I was buying were made and who made them. I was careful not to let the spirit of a good deal overtake the true spirit of Christmas. I made toys for my son to go along with the ones I bought him. I would say I am 65% Fair trade this year, which is much better than two years ago when I was completely unaware. I will celebrate in that 65%!


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