Wednesday, December 04, 2013
A Different Focus for Christmas
Whew, survived Black Friday, Black Friday Weekend, Cyber-Monday - the lot. I didn't buy anything. Didn't even go out to the shops. Yet my newspapers, the TV programmes and my e-mail accounts were chock full of imperatives that I not miss out on incredible bargains here, there, seemingly everywhere.
Christmas shopping used to be an ordeal, hunting down the latest thing everybody just had to have. That was especially true when my kids were growing up.
I've switched my buying focus this year and have made the entire shopping experience amazingly easy. Now I shop from just two categories - consumable or durable. If it can't be ingested or if it won't last, retaining its utility for years, even decades to come, I don't carry it to the till.
Somebody appreciates fine scotch. Perfect. Buy a really, really good bottle of scotch. There, that's it. Just one thing, one present. Something highly appreciated if not outright cherished.
Durables. Head straight to the kitchen shop. A quality mandolin or a mezzaluna or a good santoku. (Here's a tip - the world's absolute best garlic press - the Kuhn Rikon 2315 Epicurean garlic press. It's gotta be the 2315.)
It's simple. A good knife should give a lifetime of good service. It will be one more thing to encourage the recipient to cook quality food at home. Maybe when they reach for it ten or twenty years from now they'll even remember who gave it to them.
I don't know how many Sony Walkmen I bought as gifts 20-years ago. I don't remember who I gave them to. I don't know where they are today and I'm positive neither do the people who received them from me.
For me this year, I've asked for nothing. That doesn't mean I simply haven't asked for anything in particular. It means that I have requested nothing, no gift at all. Why? Well, for the past couple of months I've been looking at all the stuff that surrounds me, envelopes me. Any direction I turn, there's stuff staring me right in the face.
I can't even recall where some stuff came from any more. Was it given to me? Did I buy it? If I bought it, what was I thinking?
The next step was to look at something and try to figure out if I really wanted it? Did it do something useful for me? Did I enjoy looking at it, art for example? If not, what was I doing with it?
There were a couple of things that had been given to me and that the givers expect to see in my home when they visit. I suppose I could have had a garage sale but I'm a poor organizer and I don't like people enough to want to mingle with strangers as they sift derisively through my stuff and try to haggle over the difference between half a buck and a quarter. So I'm beginning to flag things that I'll be taking over to the Sally Ann's once the holidays are passed and the odds of unintentionally offending a loved one wane.
It's going to be a different Christmas this year. I don't know, maybe I won't like getting nothing. Hard to say. Can't tell without trying.