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Archive for December 13th, 2007

Letting it be Christmas

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

I guess I have turned into a little bit of the grinch. There are not a lot of kids in my life, other than the 8-10 knitters I see once a week and little Isabel, my friend April’s toddler. I used to really enjoy the gift-giving, dressing-up, special-food-eating parts of the holiday season. These days I look most forward to the days when I get to stay home all day rather than going out.

capitolchristmas07small.jpgI used to spend my life shopping. I knew when every store closed at night, and I read catalogs at home and on break at work, planning my shopping for when I was free. I loved good design/fashion (I still do) and spent much of my time looking/reading/scheming to buy things that were beautiful to me. I still notice beauty but I do not do it by shopping, at least not at the places I once did.

I gave up credit cards almost 16 years ago, and it was a huge change in my life. I am so grateful for that change… now I live in the present, and if I don’t have cash for something I figure out what I might do about it.

As a self-employed person, I do not know what my income will be next month, so I do not promise I’ll use the income I can’t count on, to pay a debt. It feels really sane, though it took a long time to get used to it. (I’ll never forget when I realized I could still buy things at Hudsons, using cash rather than using the card.)

Well, since I made these changes, I have approached the holiday season differently. Going into stores where they are offering me beautiful things I would like, might even be able to afford, but don’t need and didn’t know I wanted before getting to the store… well, that does not work as well any more.

I still bring too much home, far too often (resale shops and Target are my main downfall places). But even when I splurge I do not do it on as large of a scale as I once did. I remember an impulse credit purchase of a dress that was nearly $200 (gorgeous, I still have it… double-knit wool).

So when we get ready for holiday season, I tend to avoid the shopping thing. After all, if I go in a store, I will want something I didn’t know I wanted before I got there.

My family no longer does gifts unless inspired to do so. Brian’s family also passes this by.

However, I do need to get a gift for my Habibi Dancers’ secret Santa exchange. And we have musical friends who deserve a small love token, and there is my friend I’ve known forever and her daughter, my goddaughter, who stays in touch even though she’s in her 20’s now.

Why I find it hard to go ahead and shop for these beloved folks, I do not know. I guess just avoiding temptation is the issue. For example, I tried to crochet a hip wrap for my Habibi swap person. In the end I went to World Market where I knew I could find something, and I got her a totally perfect gift. But I also bought myself a pair of earrings while I was there. Ugh.

I will be knitting small socks to hang on the tree, for my fellow Abbott Brothers’ band members. Not sure what I’ll do for my Goddaughter. Found really good stuff for her mom earlier this year, just the right thing and so I pre-purchased for her. Loved that.

But I went to the Habibi party tonight. And the other girls were soooo into the gift giving (and receiving). My recipient loved her gift (gold beaded wrist cuffs… she said she had a pair and wore them so much that they broke… so she got another pair today, very cool).

And the woman who pulled my name TOTALLY nailed my gift. I first got a very cushy bathrobe and then I got the most amazing red sequin dress… sequins on stretchy knit fabric, and it fits me absolutely perfectly. I look for dresses at resale shops often, from 1-4 times a month, and I have never found anything like this, which fits so perfectly without any alterations.

I did start knitting my tiny little socks which I have most years chosen to give to the Abbott Brothers band members. Those are great fun. I see those folks on Saturday, this is absolutely do-able.

But I do wonder why it is I avoid this whole thing. I can really enjoy it, as a way to celebrate the relationships I have in my life. This is the time of year to experience full gratitude for friendship and family.

On one hand, it’s wonderful to contemplate what might be the perfect gift within my resources, for a beloved person in my life. On another hand, I think i would rather spend an hour at lunch with anyone I love, than get or give gifts. I’m preparing to take Goddaughter Sara out for sushi, for example… which she and I both very much enjoy doing together. And I had lunch with her mom on Monday. That, to me, is the real gift. Time with someone I love.

But do I need to let go a little bit? Give in to the joy of finding an appropriate gift? (That is, within my current resources?) Where is the balance?

Photo: Downtown Lansing, standing at the corner where the streets number zero and zero, where east/west and north/south streets change, at Michigan and Washington. This is the Capitol Building of Michigan. I live not all of ten blocks east and 25 blocks south of this point, and yet I’m considered not downtown at all. Foster Center is about 25 blocks east and 1 block north, and Rae’s shop is another 3 blocks, Altu’s restaurant another mile or so east of that.

This is all my neighborhood, really. It’s a good city if you ask me, very friendly, very compact, but not so small that people get into your business. I swore forever that I would not retire here, but I may be changing my mind.