A Ladybug Mistake

Fair Trade

Fair Trade (Photo credit: flydown)

This past weekend, my family went to our local Christkindlmarkt. It’s as close to a real German one as our city can make it, which means half of it was indoors and really cramped. Vendors sold items as diverse as summer sausage and local baked goods to handmade wooden toys (for reasonable prices, I might add) to handicrafts from Peru and, of course, your usual “made in China” products.

I rarely fall prey to impulse buys when the kids are around, but my desire to make this a special time where we buy a few things I rarely allow (e.g., summer sausage) coupled with the crowded space around the stalls made it hard for me to say no.

One of those purchases was four finger puppets, apparently fair trade-crafted, and from Peru. (While I do support fair trade, I am still skeptical sometimes if something with a hand-written sign is truly fair trade or just marketing.) Either way, though, someone made these finger puppets, mostly likely a woman.

The ladybug finger puppet had opened at the bottom. I didn’t realize this until we all got home and my older son mentioned that “there’s fuzz in there, Mommy,” when he saw the stuffing exposed. I was angry: I know I’d only paid $2.50 for that, but it was defective. I certainly wasn’t going to spending over an hour returning something worth $2.50, so I chose to repair it myself.

It took me probably about 20 minutes or so. The opening wasn’t complicated to fix; the difficulty was in working with such a short piece of finished off wool on a knitted project, hoping I didn’t start any runs (that’s why I prefer to crochet). As I was sewing, though, I realized that I was simply fixing another woman’s mistake. Don’t I appreciate it if someone fixes my mistakes for me once in awhile? Granted, my feel-good-me was picturing a poor woman, possibly with kids at home she was trying to support, peacefully making little toys for other children. She could have, of course, been a single, angry, woman who thought it was way beneath her to do this kind of handiwork.

Either way, I was connecting with someone who made a mistake. My blood pressure lowered, my muscles relaxed, and I felt pretty happy. Hopefully the craftswoman in the other hemisphere is trying to make a living, just like most of us, and that she is getting an appropriate pay for her skills. Sometimes we simply have to hope that we’re doing the right thing, even if we don’t have certified, stamped, official proof of it.

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