Commercialization of Christmas gets a lot of negative attention, as well it should. The holiday is, after all, primarily a religious one, and that tends to get overshadowed by the gift-giving emphasis.

But gifts are inextricably tied to the holiday, so the tradition of giving and receiving will continue place despite our concerns — and, like it or not, the well-being of our local retailers is linked to the season, too.

Small businesses are the bedrock of any community, and many of those entrepreneurs rely on Christmas-season sales to make it through the rest of the year. They employ workers who spend their paychecks on rent, groceries, gasoline and other necessities, spreading benefits throughout the local economy.

Artists and crafts people depend on Christmas, too. Southern Oregon is full of talented artisans, from painters and sculptors to potters and woodworkers and more, all trying to make a living, or even part of a living, from their creations. 

The rise of internet retailing poses an existential threat to all local business and crafts people. It's convenient to order a gift from the comfort of home at the click of a mouse, but every dollar you spend in cyberspace is one that doesn't go to keep your local community prosperous.

Shopping online also deprives the buyer of the simple pleasure of strolling the street, greeting friends and neighbors and browsing the shops.

So remember to include your local merchants while making your Christmas list; your patronage helps them — and you, too.