Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Abundance and Antiques

I'm a bit old fashioned.

I like my buildings with character: cupolas and cornices, smooth brick and weathered siding.  I like to do things the hard way, from scratch. I bake bread for my family, (plan to) grow my own vegetables and knit all our hats and scarves. I prefer used things to new. For me, antique shops and thrift stores are like a trip back in time, and remind me a bit of an archeological dig. There's layers of history in each of those places if you know how to look.I like the cozy feel of a fireplace, the taste of homemade gingerbread, yellowed photographs of my town's history and the texture of wool.
The comfort of an tattered quilt, the smell of the pages of an old book- these things are golden to me.
Stuff you bought back then was made to last and with pride. These types of things get better with age.

Autumn also brings out in me this bizarre hoarding instinct. I feel compelled to stuff every corner of my living space with food, clothing or blankets. With all the trappings of modern convenience, I am sure my family would survive without 20 pounds of bread flour stashed in the freezer. My husband routinely reassures me that the apocalypse is probably not tomorrow and that I work next to a Walmart. Chances are I can get whatever I want fairly easily when the need arises. Thanks to a close network of friends and family, we've never lived in poverty, but yet, somewhere in my core, it's like my very soul remembers a winter without mittens and is terrified to experience it again. I think I inherited my grandmother's Depression mentality.

If I'm not anticipating my family's survival needs, I'm thinking about the upcoming Christmas holiday, and how, as an American, I'm supposed to help the economy by indulging a rabid need to consume and then giving the stuff away. With the frost on the ground in the morning as my daughter gets on the bus, it's hard to deny that winter is well on it's way. Working in retail, it feels as if I am drowning in a sea of stockings, candy canes and Santa Claus starting twenty minutes after I finished back-to-school shopping all the way through to Groundhog Day, when I simply can't take anymore consumerism and just stop paying attention. I loathe the holiday season. It's become about "stuff" and greed and it disgusts me. The holidays are certainly not eco-friendly either, as half of what we give and receive either replaces other perfectly good things that get tossed in the trash or ends up in a landfill itself after a few days of amusement. Utterly pointless.

So this autumn morning finds me thinking about all I am appreciative of and the spirit of giving. I want this Christmas season to be different when it comes. I want to share what I love with the people I love and encourage them to remember and cherish a humbler time in our history. I don't mind gifts, but they really ought to be useful. I don't want to give people "things" so much as feelings: warmth, joy, beauty, happiness and gratitude. Our world needs more of these rather than more plastic crap.

So when you find a loaf of bread, a scarf or a used book in your stocking this year, it will be from me, with a little bit of who I am and all my love and affection inside with it. Let's save the sugarplum dreams for the children and let them have theirs, but you and I, let's feel the earth sigh a bit in relief. Maybe when the kids grow up they will remember our example and appreciate the gifts they already have a little more.

My house is made up of mostly flour and yarn anyways and I can't find a path to get back outside until I give some of it away.

Share yourself with me- in the comments- tell me what you really love, want or want to give others this holiday.


  1. OOO! I love giving AND getting used books. Truly my all-time fave gift--unfortunately, people are afraid to give me books, because I have so many already.
    This year, I think we're going to give gifts from the garden: canned spiced pears, pickles (beets, zucchini, green beans, cukes), rhubarb chutney and tomato salsa. Money is tight, but our garden was generous. And I think something delicious and homemade is almost always welcome...

  2. I am giving away hand crafted soap and I am planning on making some other things as well (haven't quite decided on what just yet).I love home made gifts,but I am usually the only one in my family who gives them as gifts-and I am the only one who has a full-time job and three kids at home!
    For one,I just can't afford to buy high-priced things, and two,it just goes against everything I believe in.
    When I read your post,it sounded like I had a twin.I also love antiques,second-hand anythings and making scarves,clothes,etc.
    I just stumbled onto your blog,and I really like it.
    Don't worry,you will reach your goal.These things just take time.

  3. countrygirl, welcome! i love the soap idea and wish i knew how to make it and had the tools and time. full time job makes that pretty difficult, i know. Thank you for the encouragement!