It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (in spite of ourselves)
Hello, Dear Reader!
Well, it's here. The Holiday Season. Again. I hear deep sighs. I can almost hear your thoughts! "I'm SO busy, how can I get it all done, why do I do this every year, where am I going to get all the presents without dealing with the traffic, when is my next psychiatric exam?"
I would like to offer you a quick solution, and some Inner Peace. One, take a deeeep breath. In through the nose, out through the mouth....yeah, that's it, nice and sloooowwww....now, listen to Aunty Mary....listening? Ok, it's easier than you think.
Change your mind.
Oh, I see the burst of frustration! Your blood pressure just elevated! WHAT? Hang on, indulge me!
Make a choice this year to look around at all that is beautiful. All that is calm and bright. Yes, it's all around you, even in the (appearance of) chaos. Make it a POINT to stop and look. To breathe. Yes, in the store. In the car at the stop light is a perfect time to stop, take that deep breath, and say, "Hello, G*d" or, for you secular Ones, "Hello, Me". Now.......
I know that you see articles - and blogs - that focus on "simplifying" the Holidays, but it seems that even those are more technical, once you factor in fighting your way through the "simple" shopping list for those DIY projects. And oh, the HORROR of the stores and malls this time of year.
Let me extend this lovely idea to you: Shop Local. Yep, LOCAL. There are craft shows, holiday bazaars, nutcracker markets, antique shops in every town in every state and country. Imagine this. You get up on Saturday morning, grab some coffee, and drive to the local farmer's market, where you find vendors selling gorgeous handmade crochet, jellies, repurposed jewelry - like this: www.bitsandbobs.us - and so. much. more. There are thousands of people out there that create labors of love in the handmade, artisan, crafters market, and they do it because they LOVE WHAT THEY DO. How many "import items" at the malls are made by people who LOVE WHAT THEY DO? Not many!
For many years, my gifts have consisted of baskets that are based on what my friends and family love and collect. Most all of the items are locally sourced, handmade, small batched. I bought them while strolling some really fun venues, with a bottle of water in my purse, a cup of coffee in my hand, and, on occasion, my husband by my side (gotta have someone nice to tote those parcels). Often, those leisurely days ended with a quiet lunch or glass of wine in some funky place, and a bag full of goodies for the gift baskets.
My recipients always look forward to "what's in the basket" - and they LOVE their goodies. It's so nice to avoid the mall! And to keep my money "local" - I know that when I buy some lovely hand crocheted scarf, that a mother/wife has sat on her couch for the 3 hours it took to make it, and delights in my purchase. At the end of the show, she tells her husband, "wow, and I sold the red one!" -- I know this, because I do this! There is nothing I love more than to see you leave with some of my spice blends or a wine cork wall letter that I made....it makes me so proud on a very deep level to know that something I have created with my two hands is going to live in your home or grace your palate....
So what am I saying? SHOP LOCAL. This means: farmer's markets, church bazaars, the "beg/barter/buy" sections on Facebook, antique malls (if you don't like antiques, let me tell you, they are FABULOUS sources for things you never thought of for gifts - they're not the overpriced, stuffy places you may imagine. They're mostly funky and lots of fun. You WILL find something, I promise)
Local for me is the Texas area near Houston. If you live close, check out my events page and come visit. If you don't, check out your local events pages and shop your small businesses.
Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and.....Namaste', Y'all!