Saturday, November 8, 2008

Have Yourself a Thrifty Little Christmas

Benjamin Franklin said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Apparently Franklin was un-American. I’ve been accused of being un-American and hell-bent on destroying the American economy by shopping locally, making gifts, and giving experiences rather than stuff and--OMG--conserving gas. I think we’ve recently had ample evidence that large amounts of debt is not working for America and Americans. Maybe my critics will shut up as they scramble to create Christmas in the midst of a recession brought on by the greed of all of us.
Each New Year, my resolution is to buy throughout the year and be ready for the holidays. I am happy to report that 2008 was finally the year that I did not put off all of my shopping until the traditional shopping season between Thanksgiving and the Winter Solstice. I haven’t done purposeful shopping, simply kept my eye out for things that reminded me of people I love and then stored them in a big plastic tub in our bedroom. The tub is full and I’ve even started wrapping! I’m having fun discovering what all I’ve stashed away and hoping that by getting a jump on the holidays I will get a jump on the stress because holidays are supposed to be fun, right?

To date my best purchase was a big box of Legos from Craig’s List. My four-year-old grandson Gabriel has had a large box of the chunky Legos for toddlers for several years. This summer he became enchanted with the little Legos I’d saved from his Uncle Nadir and stashed at our summer home to the point of not wanting to go out and play on the beach. A trip to Target horrified me that you cannot buy just plain old Legos. You buy sets that create specific things instead of letting a child’s imagination (which Gabriel is blessed with in large quantity) run wild. And the price? To get any amount of Legos you can spend $80 or $90 to get a fancy box and directions for making a pirate ship, a castle or the Millennium Falcon.

I would not have driven to Mercer Island just to buy a box of Legos, but since my husband works in Seattle anyway, and loves a bargain as much as the next guy, he was willing to leave a little early one day and “score” the Legos. He actually sent me that in a text message. So now Gabriel will have a large unfancy box of gently used Legos and we spent $45—still a lot by our family’s standards, but the entertainment value will be worth it since Gabriel is creative and we so enjoy watching him create.

In February, while having a little holiday on Whidbey Island, I purchased a shaker can of lavender scented kitty litter sweetening. To keep it out of the reach of grandbabies, our kitty’s box was moved to our master bathroom so we get up close and personal with Zeke on a daily basis. I clean the box regularly because…well, it’s right there by my foot, but sometimes it needs a quick freshening. A few shakes of the can and voila, problem solved. All was well until we came to the end of the can. I’m here to tell you that the folks at the Lavender Wind Farm near Coupeville impressed me when I read the back of the can and discovered that they’d included instruction for creating more of their product yourself instead of sending them money! Using the can as a measuring cup I put baking soda in a bowl, added a few drops of lavender essential oil, stirred it like a sweet smelling cauldron, scooped it back into the shaker and we were good to go. Hey, if it’s that easy why not make some of my own to give to kitty loving friends? I found the proper shakers at Cash & Carry on Tacoma Mall Blvd., but I’m holding out for Goodwill since $4.69 for the can seemed a little steep. That’s how much of a tightwad I am.

And we are headed into the Bazaar Season. I have a friend who goes to a gazillion bazaars which sometimes I am able to tag along to, sometimes not. This year I am striking out on my own by going to my mother’s church’s bazaar at the Peninsula Church Center in Seaview, WA. As bazaars go, it’s not much, but the Presbyterians, with whom the Lutherans share the building and event, make awesome chowder and I just might score a little something for the new granddaughter while we’re at it. At the very least we’ll be sure to find watermelon pickles!


Lorraine Hart said...

I feel we contribute...with taxes, with recycling, with making smaller footprints, with our ideas, our time and our America. I believe we have just been asked to readjust our inner compass to true North again.

Foaming at the mouth consumerism brought us here...and I firmly believe Christ would go on the same rage in a mall, today, that he went on in the temple.

I'm gobsmacked that such a simple and pure message has been turned into this complicated hypocrisy.

Stephanie Frieze said...

I LOVE your analogy to Christ in the temple, Lorraine!

When I was in high school a fellow art student drew a cartoon of the Nativity scene lit with Christmas and search lights like a Christmas tree lot.

I doubt if Christ (and by the way, the reason we don't know His actual birthday is that such celebrations are traditionally unheard of in that part of the world)would be pleased that the celebration of His birth has been turned into consumer convulsing.

Stephanie Frieze said...

What luck! Just when I was wondering where Christmas was going to come from I learned that I have won Four Hundred And Fifty Thousand Euro(450,000.00 Euros only)the 2008 Email Sweepstakes lotto Program Organise by the Euromillions International in Madrid Spain! All I need to do is send a little money to one Mrs. Marisa Mastroianni. I must be the luckiest person in the US. I’ve also heard from long lost relatives in various African countries that need me to help them get millions out of the country, which they will share with me for the loan of a few thousand. I know everyone gets these emails, but there must be enough idiots/desperate people out there that fall for them to make it lucrative enough to keep sending them out.