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Gifts made easy

November 30, 2012

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During the holidays, retailers sometimes remind us it’s important to keep gifts personal. (I don’t know about you, but I have never given anyone a Kotex Christmas gift).

I try to keep the holidays simple and personal, but in a different way.

Since I grew up during the heyday of excess, I still can feel the sneaky magnetic pull of consumerism. Working on ignoring all the consumer hype is similar to working out in the gym. You get stronger the more you work at it. I am finding myself stopping and questioning my options much more now, as opposed to thoughtlessly purchasing things and not thinking how it will affect my life in the future, and where the money has gone along with that.

Taking a step back from consuming, especially during the holidays takes some time and conscious effort in the beginning. I can feel the gripping feeling to buy stuff loosen, as I steer clear of stores and remind myself that these stores are designed to take my money. The people who own these stores where I used to shop frequently don’t care if I can afford it, nor will they admit that 80% of the stuff out there isn’t really needed by the average consumer. I am realizing I am not lacking for not owning these extra things, not inadequate, and not excluded from any social groups that I desire to be in, nor treated differently from the groups I currently belong to. I find this interesting because some of the people I know make bags and bags more money than I do, yet we all hang out together and I am treated like a peer.

People used to laugh at my small old-style television until a close friend bought me a huge flat screen one Christmas. (I actually missed my dinky TV for almost a year until I got used to the bigger one, but I still feel it takes up too much room in my place. I then gave the old dinky TV to a friend that needed it). I had a small 35mm film camera with a built in flash for the longest time until I needed to upload photos for work, and had to purchase a digital camera last year.

People (including a couple of friends) tried to poke fun of my old, outdated stuff but I didn’t care. Those things I owned came into my life with wonderful stories attached. A former boyfriend ended a relationship, and didn’t have the guts to pick up the dinky TV he left at my place. (I subsequently gave away all the really cool DVDs he left behind, including a Family Guy box set which I used to listen to in French and Spanish for fun as the discs had a language option). As for the camera with film? One of my clients purchased the 35 mm film camera for me for my birthday in 2001. It was a great surprise for me at the time, it meant a lot, and I needed a camera. My camera before that was given to me by my Uncle Nick as a kid and I couldn’t find places that sold flash cubes after a few years. Wow, time flies doesn’t it? Those things reminded me of those people. My new camera is just that. A new thing, no story attached. Just a boring new thing that works extremely well. Sometimes gifts are great because they were given by great people, not because the gift itself was mind-blowingly unique or personal.

One Valentine’s day I gave one of my boyfriends shit because he bought me a pizza cutter for Valentine’s day. I suggested we go out and get a pair of earrings to “romanticize” the occasion. He conceded, and we went out the next day and bought earrings. I don’t wear the earrings anymore, but guess what I still use to cut my pizza?

Exactly. The man was right after all.

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