Welcome to one of the most mixed-up holiday decor weeks of the year. Yes, it’s Veterans Day, with the remains of Halloween giant spider webs, patriotic flags and banners, fall and Thanksgiving pumpkins, and Christmas light displays mixing it up in yards all over town.

As we cheer the Veterans Day parade and attend the Laying of Wreaths and dedication of the new veterans memorial at NSU, ignore the construction of the Snowflake ice rink in Leoser Pavilion.

In that vein, it seems early to be thinking about Christmas shopping. If you’re a traditionalist, with good reason, you may be adamantly opposed to leaping right on ahead into gift-giving stress. However, this may be the year you should reconsider that stance. It’s hard to ignore news stories of transport ships waiting patiently at sea to offload all those tons of toys and other goodies.

If you’re like me and interested in the economy – not just locally, but also those factors nationally and internationally that impact Tahlequah, America, you read the news stories. They point to manufacturing disruptions during the pandemic as factories temporarily closed and key components were delayed. Manufacturing delays will explain a lack of items being shipped, but it sure doesn’t explain a growing flotilla of ships gathering at our ports, unable to dock. So it’s a shortage of truck drivers for the overland piece? We had a shortage of truck drivers before the pandemic and there were goods on the shelves.

It seems a shame to blame the delivery delays on one industry. I could have sworn major trucking firms were experimenting with driverless trucks and other technology-based “solutions” long before we ever heard of a coronavirus. Here in the midlands, though, we’re pragmatic. We shake our heads at what doesn’t make sense and move on to how to live through the current crisis.

The end result is the same. Some of the items you really want to purchase for Christmas gifts may not be available in time. Which of course raises the specter of a glut of goods on shelves shortly after the key “buying” season, for those who are looking for the next crisis. Pragmatic, remember? One crisis at a time. The best answer for the season almost upon us is to buy local.

Buy local as in buy what you can find on a shelf. Buy local as in buy things made in the U.S. Buy local as in check out arts and craft opportunities for something unusual and beautiful. This may not be the best year for commercialism, brand names, and hot trends. If ever there was a year to ignore “impressing with price,” and moving to “impressing with thoughtfulness” instead, this is it.

Impressing with thoughtfulness is by far the more difficult of the two. You must know quite a bit about the people in your life to be able to buy a thoughtful gift. What have they always wanted to do, but couldn’t because of a lack of time, money, or support? What interests them more than most? What says "love" in your family? Those kinds of questions take time. It’s not too late to go with a thoughtful Christmas this year, but it’s sure time to get going mentally.

It’s a mixed-up week, mixed-up year, and mixed-up world right now. There’s going to be a crisis after this one, and one after that too. It’s good to belong to the we’ll-live-through-this-and-thrive midland.

Sue Catron, former assistant vice president of Business and Finance at Northeastern State University, is mayor of Tahlequah.

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