Just imagine how many feet have stepped over the threshold of this old house, back in the days when the front door was for receiving company and the side or back door for the family. This old house sits on the main street of a small New England village with the church and store just down the street, very picturesque. Now it seems we use the garage door for all traffic into the house, a front door seems almost a cosmetic after thought, a nod to a time when we had parlors, and hand towels and linens we kept “for best”. A better or worse way to live? It can be argued either way, I think it was just different. It certainly is nice to have the option to pick and choose what items we want to embellish our lives with, versus society telling us what the good host/hostess does in ironclad terms. If a highly decorated table appeals to you, I say go for it, if the thought of hand washing all that china and polishing the sterling flatware gives you anxiety, then use the everyday items. Life is way to short to fret over the finger bowls and proper forks if that isn’t your thing.
Live with your own sense of comfortable style and elegance.
I am actually at the tail end of Christmas preparations. Not because I shop all year long, tucking gifts away, or because I am part of the Black Friday et al madness. But because even the amount shown in the photo above feels like too much stuff for a family of 4. It all needs housing, dusting and maintaining if not regularly in use. Not to mention it costs time and money too. I do like to find a “perfect something” that I know will be used and enjoyed, but after years and years of gift giving it gets harder and harder. Everyone already has enough stuff. The stores do look lovely, and I enjoy all the displays and decorations, but I see little I want to give or get. I have a tv, why get a new one? Ditto for a cell phone, clothes, towels, dishes etc. And I really don’t feel a car with the attached loan is a good gift idea! I like the idea of time; breakfast with a friend, a movie or a hike as a gift. It feels saner to me.
If gifts must be given, giving food is a good option, no dusting and only temporary storage. I like to give to the local animal shelter too, though not everyone feels that a donation in name to a charity is a gift. I like the idea for the same dusting and storing reasons I just mentioned. This year I have really whittled it down to just a couple gifts for each teen daughter, a spouse gift, something for the neice and nephew, something to the inlaws and that covers it. My mom wanted nothing but our company for Thanksgiving, and I brought her a couple of books I knew she’d enjoy and some food to share. (She is also of the dust and store dislike mindset.) Plus, as she says “I don’t want more stuff.” I can relate, every year I pare down more and more, today I culled 20 books that will go to my library’s shelves or booksale. I have read each at least once and it is time to send them on their way. I’d rather be even less encumbered in 2013 than I was this year, and able to explore more of what is out there.
It bothers me how shopping seems to be listed as the route to happiness and prosperity in life. Buy this and you’ll get the right job, house or spouse. Buy this and you will be beloved by the recipient. Buy things to get the country back on track. “Spend like there’s no tomorrow” and “you can’t live without the item or your life will be an empty shell” seem to be the wrong message to take to heart. I could be wrong on this though, who knows. I just know for me, spending is not gaining me very much in the long run. Oh exceptit gives me more things to dust and store!