Christmas is more than an idea, belief, or calendar date; it’s a universality that extends into the far reaches of the imagination, anchored in transcendent thought and feeling.  A return to innocence and magic the holiday season renders pure spirit, when Canadians come together to behold a lighter rendition of ourselves and feast upon the world with childish wonder.  Society revives in a decadent display of festive holiday cheer, local and small businesses extend themselves to give back to their communities by charitable means and provide services that encourage homespun creativity, fellowship and association, while neighbourhoods put Christmas in the air by seizing it first in their hearts.

As we lean back in a deep collective sigh, admiring the glow of the Christmas tree as it blooms from within, we are reminded of its profound state of mind – the notion of simple extravagance by which we are truly rich indeed: family, friends and the utter joy of human experience (the crunch of snow underfoot, the peaceful calm and beauty of a winter flurry, the radiance of a blazing hearth, hot breath upon a chilly air, the sparkle of dancing lights, the awakening of senses…)  However rising concerns over the recent global economic crisis, foreshadowing the possibility of a double-dip recession throughout the developed world, does little to encourage jovial toasts and bursts of spontaneous laughter.  Instead it stands as a reminder of what we must hold close, cherish and preserve this holiday season: the think-tank of Canadian-ism, inspired by communities and businesses across Canada.

Local and small businesses (which account for roughly 48 per cent of the private-sector labour) are the engine-force of this country, as they propagate the wants and needs of society by reinforcing strong, healthy communities in which to raise our children, accommodate our youth and provide for our elders.  Local and small businesses account for an enormous portion of the Canadian economy, with a quarter producing goods and the rest providing services, they reflect the true inner workings of culture, whilst integrating a broader consensus within the hearts and minds of Canadian families.  However, the global financial crisis has tightened access to the kind of credit and loans these businesses rely on for their livelihood, and there is a growing concern over short term viability, which will become a serious problem in the near future should sources of credit dry up.  Indeed, many local and small businesses have felt the negative impact from the current economic environment.  It’s more important now than ever to rethink our Christmas shopping, by accommodating and supporting local businesses and communities.  Let’s begin to rebuild and strengthen Canada’s economy from the grassroots.  Buy Canadian.  Shop local.  Gift certificates to ma and pa businesses, locally-run and operated restaurants, ski lift passes and day passes, hair salons or barber shops, car washes and detail shops, gym memberships, home repairs and maintenance or house-cleaning services, golf course memberships or certificates, dog-walking and grooming services, children’s daycare, babysitting, computer repair, local craft, jewellery and boutique shops, art galleries, local pottery and artisan stores, community theatre  and live shows at local venues… this Christmas we can all buy local and buy Canadian, for we have so much right at our doorstep to inspire!

Christmas is a savoured gift to mankind, one that beholds the world in a softer and more beautiful vision, therefore it’s imperative we uphold such revelation by maintaining strong, healthy communities and continue to support local and small businesses that provide us with the kinds of unique products and services which encourage synergistic friendship, reciprocity, intimacy and mutualism – the key elements of Christmas spirit.

-Elizabeth Cucnik


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