The merchandizing frenzy is in full swing. Buy this – buy that. Everyone on your Christmas list needs a rhinestone potato peeler, or some other assault on good taste. So what do you do? You have this list, you want to serve the Christmas spirit, yet, you want to give gifts that represent you with warmth – not scream “last minute, desperate selection!!”
I just happen to have a friend, no names, please, who always has some good suggestions, matching those on my list with just the right gift. So I have asked Mr. X to help us put Christmas shopping in perspective this year.
“Mr. X, thank you for meeting with me today,” I started.
He looked at me and toyed with his white beard. “You know, I haven’t got all day. I have people to supervise and livestock to feed.” I think I even heard his boots stomping in impatience, like the anxious prancing sounds of his “livestock,”
“Its well known, Mr. X, that you work very hard establishing lists of folks and gifts and are pretty good at making it all come together. How about some shopping clues for me and my friends?” I smiled.
The smile got me nowhere. He kept me at his door. I was going to have to be happy with doing this interview in the snow. “Listen, here,” he started, “I don’t have too much time. And this year, I don’t have the funds I used to have. What with tsunamis, hurricanes and earthquakes, me and my staff have been spending early and often using funds we don’t have.” (No, I’m not talking to the President!)
“But, Mr. X. many of us are struggling with those same challenges. We have been helping as best we could afford, to relieve some of the suffering related to these tragedies.”
“You have? and your friends, too?”
“Hmmmm,” he mused. “Maybe there is more to you than meets the eye.” His eyes twinkled. “Maybe I can help you and your friends.”
I got my notebook and reminded myself that this wasn’t the time to worry about subpoenas and identifying news sources.
“As I said,” he began, “its been a tough year. So many folks have needed so much. This isn’t a year to give random, tacky gifts. This is a year to give warmth, food and shelter.” His belly shook with some secret laughter. “I like to do my share of unexpected, but useful gifts. Remember that year you got the C-clamps?”
“That was you? No wonder I could never get the kids to admit to that gift!”
Now his belly shook like a bowl full of jelly. “I thought it was great! And it didn’t cost much, and fess up – you use them all the time, right?”
“Yes! How did you know?” I asked suspiciously. Then another question occurred to me – did I get them because I was naughty – or nice?
His grin broadened and his rosy cheeks bounced above his beard, squeezing his eyes between cheek and bushy white brow. “That’s my point!
If it were, I was lost. And I told him that.
“Exactly!” he said as he laid his finger aside his nose. “There is more to giving gifts than the receiver’s goodness. It’s based on the giver’s goodness. That’s why I give gifts from the heart. Even in times when money is tight. Look around, there are plenty of ways to give with fun and joy and warmth, without breaking the bank. And I like making my money go really far. So I…….
My pen was ready, here comes the stuff Special Prosecutors dream about – sugarplums, indictments, candy canes, grand juries……….but I’m forgetting my assignment.
“…..shop at nonprofit thrift stores.”
Ugh? Did I miss something? What a let down! I opened my mouth, but he spoke first.
“I bet you think you heard wrong? Did I disappoint you?” Wow. No wonder this guy knew when I was sleeping and when I wasn’t paying attention.
“Let me explain. Often we can’t help everyone that needs us. Giving money to charity is one way of getting support to those in need. But another way is to support charitable enterprises. And at Christmas time what better way than shopping at their thrift stores? They are the best places to find gifts that are one of a kind, personal and within your budget. You can always find old records, an old piano or two; books, furniture, T-shirts that say the darndest things and so much more. But the best thing, is that you are supporting a good community service and you are saying ‘I love you’ to some one too important to ignore at this time of year. You give twice and that makes up for a whole lot of naughty.”
Was he serious? I had better things to do than talk to some bearded guy in a red, sooty suit. But I gave it a try. You know what I learned? Local charity thrift stores rock – and shopping there gives each nonprofit the ability to spread their warmth in the community while I can give gifts that have special meaning.
Happy Holiday shopping!
November 2005 Christmas (Thirft Store) Shopping