Credit cards, peace & patriotism

I’m no big fan of blatant, unadulterated consumerism. But given the state of consumer confidence, I’ve set aside my shopping compunctions—for the good of the nation. At least that’s my favorite excuse for dumping a few hundred dollars on Saturday.

“Gee, Mom, you must have spent a lot,” my daughter said as we walked out of the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, toting as many packages as we could carry.

“I’m just doing my part to help the economy,” I explained.

My mother-in-law was in town, so we spent Saturday morning at the Christmas Gift Marketplace, an annual craft fair dealie.

We shelled out $4 per adult to get in—Mom had clipped Reno Gazette-Journal coupons that saved us a buck each. Then we hit the floor, winding our way past an orgy of ornaments, candles, T-shirts with flags, birdhouses, stained glass in red, white and blue, ceramics, kids’ clothes, patriotic pet hats and the like.

Business wasn’t quite what it was last year, said one California artist who sold me two $35 glazed pots for $60. But he was doing more business at the craft fair than he’d done lately at several art galleries. The pots, I thought, would make great holiday gifts for my mom and sister-in-law.

Besides the pots, I bought my son a Peruvian butterfly, preserved and mounted in a glass jar, for $29. For my dad, I bought a small landscape piece crafted from an inlay of different kinds of wood ($79). For another $10, I bought my daughter a sign to hang on her door: “The Princess is in.”

The aisles were packed by the time we stopped shopping. I hadn’t yet hit my credit limit. But I honestly couldn’t carry any more crafty stuff.

“We’re getting out of here just in time,” I told Mom. “It’s getting really crowded.”

Then we headed to the mall.

I’ve heard people say that if you aren’t 100 percent behind bombing Afghanistan, you must be a Taliban supporter. Not so, say members of Patriots for Peace, a group that meets at 5:30 p.m. Mondays on the steps of the federal building on South Virginia Street in Reno.

Armed with a guitar, peace signs, candles, American flags and warm jackets, a group of about 40 people huddled together to talk, sing and pray for peace Monday night.

“We gather as patriots who love our country and who have the right and responsibility to speak,” said Patsy Gehr, a retired counselor with the Washoe County School District. “We stand here as a voice for nonviolence. We speak from our conviction that military action will not stop terrorism. Terrorists are criminals spread throughout the world. Bombs won’t eliminate them but will further unite them in their mission.”

The group meets for about half an hour. It’s not a protest. Organizer John Hadder called it a “presence” to let people know that an alternative to war exists.

"We must condemn the acts of those responsible for the [violence] in our country," Hadder said. "But these people should be brought to justice through legal means and the accepted standards of international law."