White Christmas

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,

Just like the ones I used to know…

--White Christmas, by Irving Berlin

*

"Kids, looks like it's gonna be a White Christmas again this year."

Dad always chuckled when he said this, amused by his own wry sense of humor. When I was six, seven, eight--too young to understand what he was driving at--I'd peer out the bedroom window on Christmas Eve and watch the midnight sky, hoping to catch my first-ever glimpse of snow. We lived in Southern California's San Fernando Valley. Hardly snow country. By age ten reality hit. Dad worked in Hollywood as a director of photography. Employment was unpredictable. One year he might have steady work, the next he didn't. Movies or television series could be cancelled at a moment's notice, and there he'd be, with eleven mouths to feed and Christmas around the corner. Hence the expression White Christmas, as in nothing under the tree but the creamy white living room carpet.

Dad, I like to think, could tease about a less-than-opulent Christmas confident that, in the grand scheme of things, we had plenty of the stuff that really mattered. Faith, hope, love, family. And even if each kid received only two gifts, that meant eighteen wrapped packages to ooh and ahh over as we took turns. The multi-colored wheel rotated red, green, yellow, blue behind the silvery aluminum tree. Christmas music played on the hi-fi. Wrapping paper and ribbon and kids blanketed the floor. Frank Capra-esque as it may sound, it was pretty darned magical. Thanks, Dad. Maybe you could stop by Mr. Capra's cloud and say hello. Swap film industry stories. Write up a script called It's a Wonderful After-Life.

Dad's irony-laced White Christmas looms as a distinct possibility in my own house this year. With two shopping days to go, I have yet to set foot in a mall. Ninety-nine percent of all apparel is now Made in China or elsewhere. Why torture myself? I scoured online sites, but found very little to entice me. A few Green Toys and a bronze Baby's First Christmas ornament for grandbaby (all Made in the USA). That's it.

In the true confession department, I must admit that all is far from perfect here in CAMJ land. I was about to purchase a beautiful midnight blue Juicy Couture Made in USA Original Velour Hoodie and matching pants online for my svelte, hip, adorable Mom, when my sister Shelly called. As she spoke, I scanned the computer screen and noticed the price for the Juicy Couture gift box: $7.50. They had to be kidding. Meanwhile, Shelly said: "Let's go in on something for Mom together. I'm heading over to Macy's today. I'll see what I can find." I hesitated. She had to find something Made in the USA. I knew how impossible that would be. "But you won't be buying," she said. "I will, and you can pay me for your half of the gift. So it's ok, right?" I told her I'd think it over. A couple of hours later she called. "Wait till you hear what I found. For less than the cost of one Juicy outfit, we can get Mom two gorgeous velour outfits with great looking tops. Sorry, everything's Made in China. Are you in?" How could I not be?

Bless me Father, for I have sinned.

What was that Voltaire saying my son-in-law reminded me of way back when I began this project? "Don't let perfect be the enemy of good." (Then again, Voltaire also said "A witty saying proves nothing.") I'll muddle on, less than perfect.

But the very next day, just as my guilt had begun to ease, The Wall Street Journal carried this front-page headline: "China Hackers Hit U.S. Chamber." Read on:

A group of hackers in China breached the computer defenses of America's top business-lobbying group and gained access to everything stored on its systems, including information about its three million members, according to several people familiar with the matter.

The break-in at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is one of the boldest known infiltrations in what has become a regular confrontation between U.S. companies and Chinese hackers. The complex operation, which involved at least 300 Internet addresses, was discovered and quietly shut down in May 2010…

...U.S. intelligence officials and lawmakers have become alarmed by the growing number of cyber break-ins with roots in China. Last month, the U.S. counterintelligence chief issued a blunt critique of China's theft of American corporate intellectual property and economic data, calling China"the world's most active and persistent perpetrators of economic espionage" and warning that large-scale industrial espionage threatens U.S. competitiveness and national security.

How about if all American businesses--including the Kardashians--now operating in China simply pack up their wares and come home? By next Christmas, I'd be able to shop till I dropped at malls, buy quality Made in the U.S.A. goodies for my kids, grandbaby, and husband. New jobs would be created throughout the land, infusing captial and good will into our economy.

I know. Dream on. But it's not as far fetched as one might think. Condsider this, from CNN Money:

"Made (again) in the USA: The Return of American Manufacturing"

...something surprising is happening: U.S. manufacturing appears to be on the cusp of an awakening – if not a full rebirth. Companies like Illinois-based Caterpillar, the world's largest maker of excavators and bulldozers, is shifting some of its excavator production from abroad to Texas. U.S. furniture maker Sauder is moving production back home from low-wage countries. According to the report by Accenture, some 61% of manufacturing executives surveyed by the consultancy said they were considering more closely matching supply location with demand location by re-shoring manufacturing and supply...

I'm dreaming of a Made in America Christmas, just like the ones our country used to know. We can do this.