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Help yourself to Tucson's antidote to Black Friday

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This antidote applies just as well to Cyber Monday, which is when I am writing this article. It seems that it has never been clearer than this year that the merchants have snatched the smiling masks off their faces and shoved their message of shopping down our throats. Last week Pizza Hut briefly fired one of their managers who did not consent to having his store open on Thanksgiving; only a kerfuffle over it in the media got him reinstated. We have also seen some particularly ugly commercials with a naked message of "shop-shop-shop-shop" repeated over and over. In other words, you can allow the season to be tainted or even spoiled by crass commercialism, or you can decide that you will not allow it.

So there are two things I want to say this year, because it seems that both messages are needed more than ever before. It has been kind of a sardonic joke to mock the Christmas shopping season for years and years, but this year we have to try hard if we want to keep our heads. But it is still our choice every day to decide what we will give your attention to. You can concentrate on the humbug of media, careening between overblown, sentimental made-for-television movies and a screeching chorus of shop-shop, or you can turn your attention to other things, like seasonal music and local Holiday events. I welcome anyone who takes the time to place notices of this and that in my Comments.

On that subject, Tucson is going to have its annual bazaar sponsored by Ten Thousand Villages this week. It will be held on the grounds of the church that I attend, the Episcopal Church of St. Michael and All Angels, but that is by coincidence. I used to attend a different Episcopal church here.

Ten Thousand Villages is an organization that creates and continues market opportunities for small-business artisans, providing them with buyers for their crafts. Typically, you will see jewelry, accessories, household and decorative items and seasonal pieces. Last year I passed up an opportunity to get a perfectly gorgeous salad bowl, just because I already have a wooden salad bowl, but if I see another one there I just might pick it up. There is always someone I could give it to. And how about a Chinese ceramic blue-and-white menorah? I think it's about time I began that interfaith statement.

The bazaar itself always has peripheral offerings of music and food; this year the Pascua Yaqui Tribe will present their Yoeme Deer Dance on Saturday at 4:30 p.m., followed by Mzekala, a group that performs traditional songs of the Balkans.

On Sunday, the bazaar continues from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., featuring Mexican and Ethiopian food, music and piñatas at 10:00 and 2:00.

The motto of the bazaar is "Holiday shopping with a conscience," and it certainly falls within the push that began in recent years to shop locally. Some of those "local" organizations that will be represented at the bazaar are based in poverty-stricken or war-torn countries, where even a small infusion of money can have far-reaching effects on real people whose lives are constantly at risk.

For more info: You can look up Ten Thousand Villages on the internet here: http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/. Recently they donated more than $18,500 to typhoon relief in the Philippines through a similar church-related event. And I think that tonight is the night that I will put up my Christmas pieces and beautify my home while I await my menorah.

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