Christmas cheer found here

Finding the deeper meaning of gift-giving by shopping locally

The past few years, I've scheduled an out-of-town trip to try to get the majority of my holiday shopping list checked off and then shopped in town to fill in the gaps. Last year, as I was loading up my car 120 miles from home, I just felt crummy about it. I was exhausted from the parking nightmares and had a pile of presents with no deeper meaning or thought. I felt downright Grinchy! So, this year I've committed to shopping locally in hopes of better supporting Chico and restoring my Christmas cheer.

My husband and I headed downtown a few weekends ago and my favorite find by far was Zucchini and Vine's Christmas Olive Oil. The festive bottle is a deep forest green with a red wax top, wrapped in red-and-white baker's twine. The oil is pressed here in Northern California, the label is by Chico's own Wild Ink Press and it's priced at an affordable $20. The best part is that $5 of every bottle purchased is donated to The Jesus Center.

We carried three bottles up to the counter and I got that first little glimmer of Christmas joy thinking about the personal stories I will get to share with each recipient about that one small bottle of olive oil.

I'll tell my in-laws about the local olive oil orchards that I've had the chance to visit and my time spent watching olive harvest a few seasons back.

I'll tell my husband's grandmother, whose late husband spent a career as a newspaper press operator, about Wild Ink Press and a recent evening spent with owners Matt and Rebekah Tennis hearing the whirring of an old Heidelberg press—the same type of press that her husband worked on.

I'll talk about the Jesus Center Community Farm and my time spent in the middle of a garden with Donnie Barrow, a man my own age who had long struggled with homelessness, but at long last found his passion growing lettuce for others.

I'll share that Carl Lindahl beautifully gift-wrapped the olive oil as his wife and store owner, Nancy Lindahl, offered us some bread and olive oil as their little dog, Georgie, sat at our feet.

And I'll have the chance to say that the bottle of olive oil is an incarnation of everything I love about Chico and that by shopping locally, I found the one gift I was looking for: joy in this season and in the people and businesses that make this such a special place throughout the year.