Any of you with teenagers know that you’re frequently unpopular with them for major issues like, say, breathing, and for awhile, our policy of not buying electronics, CDs, DVDs, or digital detritus really affected our poll numbers.
“But it’s what I WANT,” they argued. “Don’t you want to buy me a gift that I WANT?”
(This resembles some of my conversations with God. He has interesting gift policies as well.)
But we stuck to our principles, determined that our little fistful of dollars was going to buy something they remembered and, dare I say, treasured —
The handmade brass goats and tiger set from India for the Son and Heir
The wood and ceramic desk organizer, courtesy Rite Aid clearance, that College Girl unpacks first, whenever she moves (which is a lot)
The rubber duck, princess pillowcases, nesting mixing bowls, organic chocolate, china tea cups, piano score books, calligraphy sets, dish towels for the ascetic apartment — whatever they were interested in, whatever they used every day, whatever was slightly different but uniquely fitted to their personality — that’s where we stuffed our discretionary gift funds.
And that’s what they still use, if it hasn’t broken or been eaten, or talk about and remember, if it is no longer with us. The gifts we purchased or made did what we ultimately wanted the gifts to do: they told our progeny how much we love them, each, individually.
Increasingly, I found and continue to find myself looking in unusual places for these gifts — second hand stores, one of a kind shops, quirky websites, product-specific outlets, individual artisans — because I want something different and fun, at the same time that I financially support someone doing different and fun.
Yeah, I know — this costs more, kind of like buying organic.
With the onset of Thanksgiving, we are entering the biggest shopping season of the year, and in the frenzy and pressurized atmosphere of buying stuff for not only the people we know and love, but others who are part of our lives whether we like it or not — the co-workers, the boss, the neighbors, the elevator boy (do those people still exist?) — it’s easy to take an experience that should be pleasurable — shopping — and reducing it to yet another chore.
But we vote with our dollars, and when we buy something unique from a small businessperson or artisan, we enable those people to make a living and produce more of what they do. And when we buy lots of stuff, cheap, then we support mega conglomerates that make lots of cheap stuff.
Gifts are not and should not be an obligation — they are a joy: for the giver, for the recipient, for the person or persons who made what you bought and is grateful for your support. As a small businessperson and writer who privately publishes my books, I am grateful for those of you who seek people like me, and the Norwegian Artist, out, and support us with your precious financial resources.
Be assured that, in return, we and people like us are grateful indeed, and we bend over backward to ensure that you are pleased with what you purchased, and that you smile when you think about us. When’s the last time you felt that gratitude from a chain store?
We’re small; we’re artisans — when you purchase from me or the Norwegian Artist, you support small business people in their purest form: Kindle e-books — Life Is a Gift; The Jane Austen Driving School; Grammar Despair. Signed Limited Edition Prints by Steve Henderson. Original Paintings like the three gracing this story — fresh off the easel and available individually or 20 percent off as the set. Miniature Paintings. Really inexpensive art booklets for people who want to create, and sell, their art.