Thursday, January 7, 2010

Further Incentive

When I first began to think about this project, I saw two clear advantages. Saving money, of course,was important, but tied closely was the opportunity to further reduce our environmental impact. Ever since the seventies, with the advent of Earth Day, the mantra "Reduce,Reuse, Recycle" has been pounded into our collective subconscious. But do we think about it between April twenty-seconds? Recycling is easy in communities that have procedures in place for collection and sorting. It makes us feel we do our part. Unfortunately, we have no such system in place here, so I combat garbage in other ways: I ALWAYS use my reusable bags when I shop- including at thrift stores- to help end the insanity of plastic bags. I compost all vegetable food and garden waste, and donate my aluminum to Habitat for Humanity where the recycling profits build a home a year for local families. I also spend part of Christmas morning re-rolling large sheets of wrapping paper and the wired ribbon from our presents for re-use. My daughter, especially, has a fondness for certain papers and ribbon patterns, and looks forward to their reappearance beneath the tree each year as much as she looks forward to any of our other Christmas traditions.

When my kids were small, the packaging left on the living room floor when all the gifts were open created a heap equal to or larger than the mountain the gifts themselves had formed around the tree. And sadly, the majority of that was hauled out to the dumpster and now lies still intact in a deep unmarked grave somewhere in the desert. All because some marketer somewhere thought that Barbie had to be positioned in just this way to appeal to my little consumer. Three layers of clear plastic, sixteen zip ties and four hundred wire twists later, Barbie would never assume that position again.

Or wear both of those shoes.

Today as I consider my local options for shopping, I recognize a third distinct advantage to my plan. Not only is "thrifting" thrifty and green, but money spent at many of the stores here in town will support very worthy causes. Besides our two Goodwill stores, we have two Salvation Army stores, a homeless mission resale store, a Hospice Thrift Shop, a Humane Society Resale, and a Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

I'd sooner give my money to any of them than pay for packaging!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Recipients of Goodwill

One of the best things about this plan is the time I have (right now, anyway-- ask me again in November) to accomplish my objectives. It would be easy if I were one of those people who can run out and buy a generic, one-size-fits-all present for the people on my list and be satisfied with that.

I'm not.

A present from me (and in some cases purchased by me and given by my family) must have meaning. It represents something about the person it is intended for and something about my/our relationship with that person. I set my gift-giving standards pretty high, and I suspect that is part of the reason the whole Christmas season has gotten so stressful for me the past four or five years.

So here are the people I must consider during the holiday season:

My husband. Sparky will be 50 this year, and his "annual bottle of Polo" is one of the factors that made me set my Goodwill gift goal at 50%. He is an armchair sports fan, antique radio afficionado, and up-and-coming foodie. He bikes to work every day, reads a lot, and never asks for anything. He has historically been one of the toughest giftees on my list.

Son, Snooze. Snooze will be 21 in April, and could easily have been internet-named Sasquatch. He is a typical college kid, living with two friends in a surprisingly non-vomit-inducing (unless you look too closely at the stair treads or around the edges of the bathrooms) apartment in Flagstaff. His desert existence prior to life on the mountain has uncovered a need for warm winter clothing, he enjoys cooking (when they can afford food) and the eclectic decor of the apartment itself provides many fun opportunities for improvisation. Snooze is grateful for anything and everything, but because he is the age he is and the size he is, and requires certain technological upgrades on a fairly regular basis, he was another 50% determiner.

Daughter Shriek. Shriek will be 15 this year. Not your typical frou-frou teen girl, her sense of style is delightful and sometimes unpredictable. She is a musician, avid reader, animal-lover, and photographer. Left to her own devices, she has a tendency to hang out in her down-filled bed and jammies all weekend rotating between Xbox, iPod, phone, and ANTM.

She cannot be left to her own devices very often.

These are the primaries and will receive the bulk of the thrifty booty. Additionally, over the next ten and a half months, I must find gifts for my two parents; my two in-laws; my sister, her husband, and their two boys- 16 and 11; my brother and his wife; and a couple of close friends. There are several situational-optionals as well: grown nieces and nephews receive if we are together for the holidays- which of course has not been determined this far out, and may provide a last-minute panic despite my best intentions.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Project Proposal

I am not a Scrooge.
Or a Grinch.
Or a Bumble.

What I am is a public schoolteacher/writer with a husband, two kids, and family on both sides for whom Christmas has historically involved major year-end expense.

My 2009 Christmas trees are still standing as I write this- the plural (there are 5) being further proof of my Grinchlessness. While they are still up, I am here to publically proclaim my Christmas 2010 intent:


We are antique collectors from way back, and to that end I have always been a thrifter. I love the thrill of the chase, and the rush I get from finding an amazing bargain. The past few Christmases have landed a few of my finds under the tree to various family members, and it never fails to amaze me that those things are received with enthusiasm equal to or greater than anything I spend retail on. This year my son the loved the disco ball ("Awesome" was his descriptor) I found for $14.99, my daughter was thrilled with her 95 cents-a-skein yarn, and my sister hasn't stopped raving about the Victorian porcelain hand I sent as a counterpoint addition to her collection.

I got it at a church yard sale for a dollar and a half.

So the plan is this: At least half of what I give to EVERYONE on my list will originate at second-hand stores or yard sales. I will post my purchases (with pictures if I can figure that part out) on this site on at least a weekly basis. All shopping will be completed, wrapped and mailed by December 1, 2010, and I will be recycling-- "greener" than ever while not feeling the stress of last-minute shopping or the Christmas Wallet Crunch.

Anybody want to join me?
Happy hunting!