EDITORIAL: Time to shrug off election divisions and embrace ‘hometown holiday’ season

Now that the election (which took an unexpectedly heated and divisive turn in Camas) is over, it’s time to concentrate on the things that unite us every November and December — breaking bread together, exchanging gifts, donating to families in need, celebrating holiday traditions with family and friends, feeling grateful for the things that make life worth living and, of course, pie.

For those hoping to make a smooth transition from arguing about bond propositions to decorating for the holidays, we suggest hitting up one or more of the excellent holiday bazaars happening throughout Camas, Washougal and Clark County over the next few weeks.

Our Hometown feature in today’s Post-Record showcases the woman behind “Sandy’s Santas,” figurines that have been a hot item at the Washougal United Methodist Church’s annual Holiday Bazaar for more than two decades.

Sandy Havrelly, perhaps best known for the 33 years she devoted to teaching children at Washougal’s Hathaway Elementary School, said her favorite part of the United Methodist bazaar is the feeling of community that surrounds the event.

People come there to shop for gifts, find new holiday decorations and sample some of the bazaar’s homemade goodies like hamburger soup and fresh-baked pies. But they also come for that sense of togetherness and community that eludes us when we get too wrapped up in the false realities of an online world that contributes to neighbors fighting neighbors and a growing sense of isolation.

Bazaars, with their assortment of handmade quilts, ornaments, decorations and unique gifts, offer a chance for people to truly “shop local” this holiday season. Buying a handmade gift from a bazaar that also donates its profits to the local food bank is a consumer decision that benefits the whole community.

Like the “farm-to-table” movement seen in restaurants, which connects diners to the farmers growing their food, the holiday shopping season should have its own “workshop to gift box” movement connecting shoppers to the artisans and crafters making the gifts they’re buying.

We plan to continue this “shop local” theme on the pages of the Post-Record this holiday season. In the coming weeks, we will feature a “Gift Guide” showcasing local, independent Camas-Washougal businesses; a “Holiday Dining Guide” featuring locally owned restaurants; and a “Shop Small Saturday” feature highlighting the local shopping deals and community events happening in Camas-Washougal the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

As we’ve expressed on this page in the past, the benefits of keeping our dollars in our local community are countless. The American Independent Business Alliance (AIBA) calls it the “multiplier effect.”

“On average, 48 percent of each purchase at local, independent businesses (is) recirculated locally compared to less than 14 percent of purchases at chain stores,” according to the AIBA.

Keeping holiday shopping dollars local also helps the environment by greatly reducing the transportation demands that accompany buying gifts made overseas and shipped next-day delivery from online retailers.

Other studies show that shopping and dining at local, independent businesses also has a positive impact on local nonprofits, as nonprofits report, on average, receiving 250 percent more support from small business owners than from chain stores or online retailers.

And then there are the benefits of actually gathering with neighbors at holiday bazaars and during local shopping excursions.

After a contentious election season, we could all use a little more holiday cheer this year. To see a list of local bazaars and read about “Sandy’s Santas,” see the Hometown section on page B1 in today’s paper. For a more extensive list of regional bazaars, visit our Classified section on page B4 in today’s paper and throughout the holiday bazaar season.

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