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."
i'm a vegetarian.  i have been for 14 years...half of my life!

it's not so much by choice anymore because i've essentially developed an allergy to meat.  so, for all you meat loving peeps, no worries..i'm not judging even a little.  but, everyone i know knows this about me.  they know that even a hint of meat or meat oils or broth in something can make me sick.  so they watch out for me.  when they know something has meat in it, they say "oh, you can't have it." in a sorrowful voice with pity for their friend that gave up meat at the young age of 15, not knowing what she was getting herself into.

so, recently, well a little over two years ago, i gave up any chocolate that isn't fair trade.  i haven't tried to make a big deal out of it when others offer me stuff that isn't fair trade.  well, for the most part.  sometimes i can be a judgmental jerk. but the thing i've noticed is that friends have started answering for me in the same way as they do about meat.

"oh, you can't have that."  with sorrow.  or pity.  or maybe? occasionally? hope? 

one time i was at a party and declined the meat.  the friend who brought me explained to a room full of people who seemed not to know any vegetarians, "it will make her sick."

then came desert.  it was cake balls with chocolate icing.  i, honestly, was more concerned with calories than ethics, but when i declined, the same friend in the same voice with the same tenor said "she can't.  she only eats fair trade chocolate."  ...he said it as though i was allergic to it just as i am to meat.

what if we were allergic to slavery?  what if we realized that it makes us sick?  and what if we had a hypo-allergenic christmas with only ethical gifts?