RESTORE-ing Christmas

I am going to admit this right now. Christmas shopping stresses me out. I feel pressure to find the right gift, and sometimes resort to just grabbing something to get it over with. I wish I could restore the Christmas spirit.

To add to the pressure I’m feeling, several years ago my siblings and sister-in-law de-cided we would only exchange handmade gifts. Handmade!

In the past, my brother, a vintner and beekeeper, has given me a bottle of his amazingly delicious wine. This year I might also get a jar of his honey. My youngest sister repurposes items found at resale shops with an alcohol ink process. She can transform the top of an old ta-ble into a work of art that makes one think of a glistening geode or a rushing mountain stream. I’m sure she’ll amaze me with her gift. My other sister likes to sew, quilt, and embroider. One year she made me a colorful cloth purse that could have come from a Vera Bradley store. My sister-in-law loves photography and once collected pictures of family members and made per-sonalized coasters. All very thoughtful gifts.

And here I sit.

I worry. I stress. I think. Then a statement from a friend, Judy, made a few days ago comes back. Judy is challenging herself to only purchase clothes through resale shops or places like St. Vincent’s de Paul or Goodwill. It not only saves her money, but it supports organi-zations that give back to the community. Profits from stores like St. Vinnie’s provide food, shel-ter, clothing, and more to those in need. But another huge factor in Judy’s decision is that it combats the waste of our resources, and she wants to help our planet.

I’ve thought about the benefits of stores such as Baraboo’s Habitat for Humanity Re-store, specializing in building materials, but I hadn’t thought about the need to recycle textiles. I did some research. According to the EPA, consignment stores helped to recycle 14 percent of

clothes and 17 percent of bedding in 2010, yet more than 80 percent is still ending up in the landfill.

I admire Judy’s goal and, keeping gift buying in mind, have a moment of inspiration. I’ll wander around the local St. Vinnie’s and look in their craft section. Maybe I’ll find glass and wooden beads that I can string on a wire to make personalized wine glass charms. I’m suddenly eager to shop.

I can extend this idea to other family members and to other resale stores. I don’t have the same talents as my siblings, but I know books. Reedsburg has that great used bookstore, Main Street Books with friendly, helpful staff, and Baraboo has the cozy Village Blacksmith that not only has rare books, but serves coffee and tea. Area libraries also often have used book sales. I bet I could find a book that will be perfect for my granddaughter who’s finishing a se-mester in Rome. Ideas keep popping in my head. My other granddaughter will be starting col-lege at UW-M so a book highlighting Milwaukee would be perfect. I can easily find reading ma-terial for my four grandsons. Oh, and I’ll grab that bag of books I just cleaned out of the book-case in case the bookstore or library can use them.

I feel my excitement growing as I find my car keys. That good Christmas feeling is re-stored.

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