Today, I watched my DVR recording of Oprah's Favorite Things show. All I can say is Oh. My. God. I know this show is supposed to whip me into a frenzy and prepare me for a hyooooge binge of shopping on Friday (aka "Black Friday" since retailers hope to turn a big profit -- get in the black, so to speak -- on that, the holy grail of shopping days), but it had quite the opposite effect on me. While the audience swooned, with women practically getting the vapors (they were in Macon, Georgia) as each new gadget, gizmo, treat, or bauble was delivered by Fed Ex "elves," all I could do was roll my eyes. Yes, friends, it was an hour long advertisement -- but then, it is every year.
Maybe it's because I finally reached a saturation point with stuff and have been working with a professional organizer to get rid of much of said stuff in my home. Maybe it's because I just don't have the amount of discretionary income I once did. Or. . . who knows? But all I could do was wonder who really needs to spend $59 for nine cupcakes and how is $150 for a big-ass fashion watch a bargain? And why, oh why does anyone really need a refrigerator with a built-in HDTV, DVD player, digital slide show, and video recipe book in the door? Okay, so the recipe book part is pretty cool, but come on. I really don't see the need to have my refrigerator be Internet-ready. Yes, I suppose it could be cool, but for almost $3,800, I could have a nice fridge full of food and still have a computer, a TV, and a DVD player in the same room. Heck, I can combine the TV/DVR/and computer into one device, get a hyoooge refrigerator, fill it with food, and have change left over!
Of course there are some things on the list that are very useful. I know this because I already own them. I have a KitchenAid mixer,albeit the lower-end model from the one on the list. I love it. A good friend gave it to me for Chrismas several years ago and I use it a lot. In fact, tomorrow I will be using it to knead bread dough for dinner rolls.
Another item I own, although only in boring white, is the set of Melamine mixing bowls. These bowls are seriously nice and at about $32 for a set of three bowls, they're a good deal, too. I've owned mine for at least ten years, probably more.
I love body butter, but don't ever see myself paying $55 for one container of it. Instead, I visit The Body Shop and pick up several of my favorite flavors for around $20 each. If you wait for a sale, you can sometimes get two for that price. Great stuff for dry skin and rough spots like elbows and heels. And The Body Shop is one of the most socially conscious companies around, which is a bonus.
I also own a copy of the Planet Earth series and Oprah's right, it's wonderful and everyone should see it. I found it on sale with a coupon from Slickdeals.net for around $42 a while back. You can also find it on NetFlix and at your local library. That way, you don't end up with more stuff in your house! :)
Of course books and music are always good, and so is Scrabble. I haven't read The Pillars of the Earth or heard Josh Groban's new CD. I do remember trying to listen to an audio version of Pillars quite a few years back. Never made it very far. For me, it's one of those books that you have to be in the mood for because it goes into a lot of historical detail and character development. I guess I just wasn't in the mood at the time. I'm sure if I started it at the right time I would enjoy it. After all I've read lots of Michener and Rutherford, which are in the same vein. And Josh Groban has a lovely voice, so I'm sure he does the standard Christmas carols proud.
Maybe I'm just getting old. But the massive consumerism that surrounds Christmas just makes me depressed. It gets worse every year. Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas. It's my favorite time of year. I love decorated houses and carolers and gatherings and people being nice to each other. I love the frosty weather with warm lights, bright colors, and glowing fireplaces inside. I even like the spirit of Santa Claus. But I don't like seeing people feel pressured to try and recreate Norman Rockwell paintings when their family is more like Sanford & Son or the Bundy's (pick the one that works for your generation). And I truly hate the scorecards some people seem to keep, pitting what they're giving against what they're getting as though it were a bidding war for affection. Oh, and retailers started displaying Christmas stuff before Halloween this year. UGH!
For me, it's not about quantity, it's about quality. Quality of time spent with people I love. That's the biggest gift of all. The other thing I really, really enjoy is making gifts for people. I've done that most of my life and the whole process is special to me. I like picking out materials and designs that I think will suit the individual. I enjoy thinking of the person as I choose colors and textures and supplies. And as I make the item, I think of the person and hope that they will like what I'm making. As for receiving, I'm grateful for anything I receive. But if I didn't receive anything but smiles and hugs, I'd be happy with that, too.
And just so this post isn't entirely without knitting content, here's a picture of a completed Koolhaas Hat from the 2007 Holiday Interweave Knits magazine. It's done in Cascade 220 black twead. The pciture doesn't show the stitch pattern very well. Trust me it's like the pattern, only black. :) I hope the recipient will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed knitting it.
Oh, and if you happen to be in the vicinity of Hillsboro, Oregon this weekend, let me know. I'm having a garage sale and some of my stuff could become yours! :)