Alas, Christmas shopping season is now upon us

Well, Halloween has come and gone, and you know what that means. It’s now officially Christmas season. If you don’t believe me, take a look in your mailbox.

Mine has been filling up daily with all sorts of catalogs I don’t normally receive. I’m not sure how they found me, but they did. Yesterday there were three. The first hawking holiday underwear (wait… what?).

The second offered incredibly overpriced country-like home decor. Now my home decor could be described as many things, but country? Never. And the last one featured every type of unnecessary toy imaginable for children. You know, the ones where they don’t need to use their imagination? Sorry, I’ll stick to Gepetto’s, the amazing toy store in my own downtown, thanks.

They all went into the recycle bin. Today I received four – the first one featured a cribbage board with a laser cut image of your favorite lake in the center, for $60. Neat, but there’s no cribbage fan on my Christmas list that I like enough to spend that kind of money on. At least not that I know of.

There was also a “meditation box” for $85 that was really just a box of sand with a stick to draw in the sand with. Somehow I don’t fathom giving boxes of sand away for Christmas would be a very popular idea.

But if I did, you’d find me at the beach in the summer time making my own, since sand, sticks and boxes are generally free. Maybe sand in a box is a present for people you really don’t like? I’m not sure.

How about an artsy ceramic bowl with a hooked opening to hold yarn for your latest knitting project? Only $45. A cute idea, I guess, but doesn’t everyone just use the canvas bags from the grocery store for that? They sure hold a whole lot more, like all the
skeins and the project you’re working on to boot. I think maybe this catalog is trying too hard. For example, the aluminum salad bowl shaped like a rowboat with wooden serving fork and spoon for oars … only $65.

It’s alright, I’ll wait ‘til you’re done laughing. I guess if you’re trying hard to impress your guests you might go for that, but I stopped worrying about impressing people when I turned 40. Who has time for that?

I have to mention though, that they redeemed themselves with a beer opening glass. That’s right, for a mere 13 bucks, you can get a glass with a bottle opener in the base. Now that certainly could be just the perfect gift for the beer lover in your life, don’t you think?

Next up, a catalog of the cutest stuffed animals ever, and for the cost of a donation level of your choosing, they can be yours. There were actually a handful of animals I have never heard of before, which is pretty cool considering I’ve been around for over a half century now. Anybody ever heard of a bonobo? How about an okapi? A tenrec, or tarsier? Just kidding, the tarsier isn’t actually available in plush. I think there was a threeway tie for my favorite.

I couldn’t decide which was cuter, the octopus, the fennec fox or the blue-footed booby. Seriously though, if I was going to buy an animal as a donation, I would probably go to http://www.heifer.org and buy a real one to benefit a family in another country. Lots of price levels, a way to do well no matter what sort of budget you have. Plus you get the side benefit of knowing you helped a family somewhere that you’ll never ever meet, in a big, big way. I think that’s pretty cool.

The third catalog was generally about puzzles, which I love, but I guess just having puzzles isn’t enough, because it also had a lot of really silly items in it as well that had nothing to do with puzzles. The prices in this particular catalog were pretty reasonable for most things, which was refreshing. But I had to laugh at the ridiculous products suggested for gifts.

For about 10 bucks you can harvest your own pearl, complete with a little locket to put it into. I don’t know why, but somehow the charm of that is completely lost on me. It sounds rather messy to me, and I must be right, because it also comes with a little cleanup kit. I guess if you know someone really into that sort of thing …

How about a piano tie for that musical dad in your life? Only $14.99, bet it sounds amazing. Or for that guitarist wannabe on your list, an air guitar for only $16.99! That’s right folks, you can purchase your own air guitar. You can read that a few more times again, but it still won’t make any sense. I don’t know why someone would want that, either.

I can’t really complain about the last catalog. It was a clothing catalog for outdoorsy women, and I love a lot of the stuff but can’t
afford it. I enjoyed looking through the pages, but it too eventually went into the recycle bin. I don’t want it lying around to tempt me, so out it goes.

It’s fun to glance through the offerings the mail carrier brings, but I generally only use them to get ideas. Shopping local is my thing, and I find everything I need right here in my hometown. There’s no shipping charges, and even if things cost a little more, I feel good about that, because I know the money stays right here, helping local businesses thrive. The economy might be recovering, but right here at home, it still needs all the help it can get. So get out there and support it, or it’ll go away.

Besides, I really enjoy taking the time to wander from store to store, especially downtown where they are all close together, and chat with store owners, many of who are my friends. I love to take my time and watch people as they shop, check out the window displays, and enjoy the ambiance of the season.

I like to peruse the gifts I am going to buy, hold them in my hands, and determine if they are just the thing for those special people on my list. You can’t get that from a catalog or shopping online.

No, you won’t find me leaving the house on Black Friday (or God forbid Thanksgiving Day), unless it’s to take a trip to the dog park with my pup. I will stay home and page through my catalogs with a cup of hot tea in hand, thoroughly entertained and making notes for future shopping days to come.

 

Originally published November 7, 2014.

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