\r\n\r\nI'm the first to admit, I usually skip over or delete forwarded email messages. I'm not too worried about seven years of bad luck if I don't forward it on to twelve of my closest friends. Not to be Debbie-downer or anything, but my inbox is overflowing the way it is. So when a friend e-mailed this message to me the other day, luckily the title caught my eye just before I hit delete. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. \r\nWe always buy local, organic, handmade, and American-made whenever we're able. But this year for the holidays, we're taking our pledge very seriously: no big-box retailers, no made in China. None. Sure that might mean being a bit more creative for the special ones on our list, but that just makes it all the more meaningful and fun!\r\nSo read on and get inspired! And don't forget about shopping to support Small Business Saturday on November 29, 2014.\r\n-----------------------------------------\r\nAs the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods -- merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, come gift-giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. It's just not true!\r\nSo it's time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper? \r\n*Everyone gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?\r\n*Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.\r\n*Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American-owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.\r\n*Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down the Benjamins on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, a driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.\r\n*Think handmade. Talented artists and crafts people are everywhere and they're selling their wares online - they create beautiful and unique jewelry, wooden items, scarves, toys, pottery, paintings, clothes, and so much more. (Hint, hint: time to check out Smiling Tree Toys and all the other amazing shops on Etsy.)\r\n*There are so many family-owned and operated restaurants -- all offering gift certificates. If your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this isn't about big national chains -- this is about helping your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.\r\n*How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?\r\n*Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? She'd love the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.\r\n*My computer could use a tune-up, and I know I can find some young, talented person who is struggling to get his\/her repair business up and running.\r\nHonestly, do you really need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of lights, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, how about leaving the mailman, trash guy, or babysitter a nice big tip?\r\nYou see, Christmas is not about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is about caring for our neighbors, and encouraging American small businesses to keep following their dreams. When we care about other Americans, we're caring for our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine.\r\n This is the new American holiday tradition.