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Small, local holidays.

This year we've seen and heard why supporting local and shopping at small businesses is important. These businesses and the people behind them make up the fabric of our neighbourhoods and cities. They're what make our community feel special, unique, and our own.


When the pandemic initially shifted how our societies operated, the importance of spending our money at local and small businesses was magnified. Nine months later - as we ease away from Black Friday and Cyber Monday and into the madness of the holidays - it's important to remember the things that truly matter and the people of our own communities.


This holiday, although we cannot feel togetherness in the ways that we are accustomed to, I think that investing in our local community will bring us together in a new way. Here are a few ways I'm bringing the livelihood of small, local shops into the lives of my loved ones this holiday season.

Consumables

Drift off the beaten path of big-box grocery stores and you will see how very long the list of consumables that are locally-grown or made truly can be. Whether it be baked goods, jam and coffee for breakfast, cheeses, meats or preserves for charcuterie, or beers, wine and cider for after-dinner drinks, there's a baker, beekepeer, brewer, farmer, or maker in your community who can make this holiday season festive, and delicious.


My personal favourites are Birds and Beans' bird-friendly coffee, Hummingbird Chocolate's delicious chocolate and preserves from Top Shelf Preserves.


Classes and shows

Classes and activities encourage us to stay active and to engage with the world. I believe that it is important that art and movement be a part of our lives, pandemic or not. Artists and teachers offer intangible goods and services that add character to our communities, and that make us healthier, and happy.


Fortunately for us, live streams and recordings make it possible for us to see musicians and bands perform, watch plays or attend fitness classes and workshops. Finding these activities and classes might require some research - but they're out there!


I recommend looking on Eventbrite or Facebook for local organizations that are leading classes or workshops, or showing performance through live streams or recordings. I'm personally looking forward to attending some holiday shows offered by the National Arts Centre of Canada and doing yoga at home with my favourite Ottawa-based teacher, ayesha.


Donations

Giving to charities and not-for-profits on behalf of someone is a meaningful way to strengthen communities and support its vulnerable members. This year, donations will go even further than before.


Large scale job losses have made more people dependant on services that aren't funded to adequately support such levels of need. Food banks and shelters have been especially hard-hit. In addition to canned or packaged goods, I recommend giving money for these centres for their staff to distribute the funds as they need, and as far as they can.


I've decided to give to food banks Make the Season Kind on behalf of family members in other provinces or cities. This fundraising campaign is hosted by CBC radio stations across the country, and aims to raise funds to feed Canadians this holiday season and winter.

Wishing everyone happy, healthy, small and local holidays.

J.