Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanks, Shopping, and Goats…

I gave thanks for many things last week. For football, family, friends, and my health, especially my kidneys. We also gave thanks for living in a land of plenty where a feast can be had and children can be educated.

Today is “Cyber Monday.” We all know about Black Friday, the “official” kick-off of the solstice-holiday shopping season. Cyber Monday began a few years back when most homes had mere dial-up connections for their computers. Monday at work, with a high-speed internet connection, folks would e-shop via those computers during lunch hour and other breaks (never on the company’s time, I’m sure).

Black Friday sales were up 11% this year, perhaps the result of steep discounts and promotions (although something really great would have to be free to get me dressed and at the store by 5am). Cyber Monday is unlikely to overtake Black Friday (or Christmas Eve) as the busiest shopping day of the year, in part because high-speed internet access is everywhere now. As Allan Sloan said on the radio this morning:

Black Friday is a sport and Christmas Eve is always the biggest day in terms of dollars, and that's just panic-driven. So Cyber Monday or Cyber-whatever will move up, but it's not going to rival these other things. But it's a great invention, and the marketing people who invented it should be proud of themselves, cause we're talking about it.

My spouse and I shopped yesterday, crossing a number of gifts off our list. I also made a decision to get my office people Goat235X235something small for a personal gift, but then do something charitable as well. 

I bought a goat.

This urge began last week when I heard a story about a girl in Uganda. Her family received a goat from Heifer International. That goat gave birth to 2 kids that they sold to build a home. The goat produced milk that the family sold to generate income. Soon they were earning enough money that they could send their daughter, Beatrice, to school. She did well, and has now become the first college graduate from her community. The goat subsequently produced a female kid that was passed on to another family in need (a Heifer tradition).

The Heifer International gift catalog includes livestock at all price points. In addition to the animals, the organization provides educational seminars so the families can care for the animals in an ecologically responsible way. They now include bees among their gift choices, as well as tree seedlings for reforestation programs.

Your kids will likely prefer Mr. Squiggles, a hot-selling Zhu Zhu hamster. But someone on your list might prefer a water buffalo

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