I have a confession: I love to shop

I know, right? What an awful thing to say, but I do. I don’t really enjoy going into stores and trying on clothes or shopping for myself, but shopping for others, specifically for Christmas presents … I love.

I love buying cute little things for others. For instance, I love to buy clothing for my daughter that I know she would look totally cute wearing.

I see art all the time that I am certain my sister April would fully appreciate and I just want to buy, buy, buy.

My sister-in-law Geri in New Jersey jumps to mind as I peruse locally made craft items and my old Army buddy Breda loves photography and everyone knows Quincy is simply loaded with amazing local artists.

Alas, but what can I do. These feelings have transcended into a sort of guilty pleasure that I try like heck to hold myself back from acting upon. Ever since I changed my own personal philosophy to, “If I can’t wear it, eat it, or read it, I don’t need it,” it has become extremely difficult to give unnecessary items to friends and loved ones.

I felt like a genius when I realized for myself that if I stopped buying things I wouldn’t need to work so many hours to pay for them. Wow. My brain-cloud lifted. I’m so smart.

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That was over a decade ago. True, I have seriously slowed my purchase of non-edible, wearable or readable things, but it has not squelched the pleasure I get from buying something for someone else.

Which is why I love Christmas so much. It’s like a license to misbehave. I suspect, judging by our economy and the availability of mainly decorative items, I am not the only one.

I still live with the dilemma that my friends who are on the same page, which for me technically is the definition of “friend,” would not appreciate a gift of some more “stuff.”

Maybe that’s because as I age I am trying desperately, like many of my peers, to let go of excess or unnecessary “stuff.”

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One might think this would be fine for my ongoing desire to play dress up with my baby girl, now age 30, but for the most part she won’t even try on my selections which then by definition turns my purchases into “stuff.”

Shopping for my friend Nancy does not present this dilemma because she loves earrings as I do, and of course earrings fit my philosophical theory because they are worn and too, admittedly, because they are generally quite small.

Gosh. Maybe there should be a shop that charges money to get in and just look at gorgeous things but not actually sell any. Oh yeah we have that, a museum. Perhaps memberships as gifts should be on my list.

I thought perhaps I just needed to increase the number of young people on my list who have not yet achieved maximum “stuff” overload? But alas, even my younger friends seem to be more evolved and see the wisdom of not collecting extra things to take care of or dust.

My young, less financially centered friends give me wonderful gifts such as homemade salsa or natural cleansers for my sink. I love the new generation; they are so cool.

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I went through years of giving Heifer International gifts of goats and bees to foreign villages in the names of my friends and family.

I tried to give animals whose worth was not in being eaten, but in the harvesting of their wares. I didn’t want my gifts to be a death sentence for some unsuspecting critter, but even that can get a little dicey with my vegan daughter’s population in Portland.

And truth be told, although the cards were indeed cute, with no wrapping paper or bows, they were not much fun to “open” on Christmas morning.

My sister sometimes sends proxy funds to National Wildlife Federation that included a heavy pewter ornament with the donation card. That was nice.

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But shopping these items online doesn’t really quench my desire to shop local art. I do love crafty stuff. I love looking at it, I love making it, I love buying it, but I don’t love giving it. My insecurities over the value of my gift in a person’s life can be quite troublesome.

Shopping in the UNICEF or National Geographic catalogs can be quite satisfying, but I am still buying unneeded items for people and to boot, I’m not buying local.

Perhaps I just need to redo my “craft” mind. Perhaps I could look around the house for gadgets I wish existed and figure out how to make them happen.

For instance, my friend Wayne Cartwright has this thing in his kitchen that looks like a wooden dandelion, sort of. I saw it years ago during a Puke rehearsal. Stop the images in your head; it was a ukulele practice, Plumas Ukulele Ensemble.

I don’t know if this was the original purpose for the item, but Wayne was using it to dry out washed plastic bags. It was fantastic and I wished I had one ever since. I probably think of it daily as I am big on washing and reusing plastic and bags hang on an assortment of antique colored bottles I purchased for which I have no other purpose.

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Perhaps I could make a wooden dandelion of my own for gift giving, and all my friends would love me forever.

Being an artist, I am drawn to beautiful things for beauty’s sake. Perhaps it’s just a human thing having nothing to do with being artistic. And yes, I have resisted for some time bringing new art into my home or sending it to yours, but there is certainly much to the phrase, “beauty in utility,” and a plastic bag dryer, now that would be something.

Happy holidays and happy gift giving to all the art-appreciative folk of Plumas.