Because Your Gift, Your Gift is on My List

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and I would imagine that panic has started to set in for some, while for others, maybe not so much.  No matter where you look there are trees beautifully decorated, extravagant displays fill store windows and Santa’s waving his way through street parades.  All constant reminders that we need to start to think about crossing people off that list of ours because time is getting short.  Each day that goes by the bargains start to dwindle and merchandise will be soon become scarce, I urge you to get out there now and start shopping, no seriously go.

One tool in any disciplined shopper’s arsenal to beat the holiday anxiety would be to create a Christmas shopping list.  A Christmas list can reduce a lot of stress this time of year because once complete you can then start a strategic plan of attack, just getting it down on paper would definitely make you feel a little better at least.  These lists help us prioritize the given with the maybe, the easy to shop for with the not so easy to shop for.  Your list will grow and so will the anxiety, those names with blanks spaces by them will probably make you stress out but keep moving forward because each year your gift creativity might be challenged, but it’s Christmas so challenge accepted, right?

I’m sure you have made little notes of subtle hints and clues left by friends and family over the past few weeks and months.  These hints I hope have not fell on deaf ears with you around, the best gift-giver in the world as you rush to the list and scratch down as many ideas as you can hoping to find that perfect something and lock it in.  It’s no easy task playing Santa every holiday season, well, Santa’s helper that is, there’s a lot of thought that goes into creating a Christmas of ooo’s and ah’s.  Finding that perfect gift brings a huge sense of satisfaction, it’s a huge weight off your shoulders especially when it’s a rare find or that item that everybody seems to want this year, you even rush to wrap it right away.  Nothing like leaving the store beaming knowing that all your hard work had paid off, you did it, you found that perfect something and it only took you three hours standing in line and a few elbows to the face to do it.

Christmas lists are ever-changing with people getting added, some not making the cut this year and those who will never leave your list no matter what and is starting to become too difficult to shop for by the way.  BIG gifts, small gifts, joke gifts and the special gifts, they all started with some sort of list, a collective inventory of who gets what and why.  Whether it was a mental note you made or you went elf level and Microsoft Excel’d that sh*t, either way they likely started with a “list”.  When do you make your list?  When do you start to write down names alongside the ideas, some ideas with circles around them, some might have underlines and some may go as far as having a circle with an underline. We constantly jot down and scratch out little notes to ourselves as the holidays draw near,  all of us moving toward the same goal, surviving Christmas.  We scramble to get stuff done with our crumpled paper in hand and after losing two pens already we trudge along thumbing our lists.   So many list categories of which include fundraiser gifts, the boss gift, and of course the “Secret Santa” gift, all with their own micro budgets and all with their own degree of difficulty.  One thing to remember though, is no matter what, the lists are all scared, no peeking or you will ruin the surprise.  There’s a code of silence and an agreed upon mystique about what is asked for and what is given.

It would be sacrilege to make a post about lists and not include children.  Let’s face it, if it weren’t for the children and their handwritten pleas to Santa to reward a year of being good there would be no need for lists.  There is nothing better for the soul then reading a letter from a child caught up in the wonders of the holiday season.  The happiness of seeing your kids opening their gifts on Christmas morning is what captures the essence of gift giving and the smiles on their faces is what makes Christmas all worth it. 

There are a lot of emotions surrounding the holidays and some of those emotions might be of sadness, we may have lost loved ones or moved away to another part of the world.  Christmas can and will bring some of that, but why not use Christmas to help others in need, take a second and maybe add someone new to your list that are struggling or going through a real tough time.  Make them a part of your own holiday tradition, they might need a little joy to turn everything all around.  It’s easy to get all caught up in what we need or want but remember there are those who are less fortunate, those who struggle everyday let alone Christmas.  If you do have the ability to pay it forward then write that on the top of your things to do.

It’s December 7th, 2016 and it’s full on Christmas, people are freaking out and some are thinking about doing some baking this weekend because their done, all their lists are behind them (insert bitterness here).  If you are like me you might be somewhere in the middle, knocked out a few but there is still a way to go.  The count downs have begun but it’s still no need to go full on panic attack that you left everything to the last minute, there’s still time.  I have had the occasion where on one Christmas Eve I passed a man with no more that 20 minutes left to shop say to a friend of his in passing that he had nothing done, crazy…or in my opinion selfish.  Leaving your shopping to the last-minute will only bring on bad appliances, way too expensive jewelry and another bad sweater that dad seems to never wear, a gift should come from the heart and with a lot more thought.

Questions like “how’s your shopping going? or “Are you all done?” are usually the second or third thing that is mentioned when I talk to people these days and with that comes that internal dialog of what’s left on my lists.  No doubt that Christmas has a way of creeping up on us, we sometimes show shades of our inner Grinch and resent the holidays but if you think about it, it only comes once a year so we should embrace it.  Enjoy the time with your family, have that drink with your colleague because we only get one day a year to “Christmas and chill”.  There’s bound to be some obstacles and moments of stress but that’s where we need to help each other make it the best Christmas yet both giving and receiving.  So if you have a list or need to make one then go ahead because your gift, your gift is on my list, of the best things in life.

I know, bad Hall & Oates tie-in with the closing…

😉

 

 

“Hold Me Clothes and Never Let Go”

I’m not sure why but the other day I thought about this jacket that I use to wear all the time when I was in my twenties, it was brown leather with a seventies style to it, very Donnie Brascoish.  I swear it felt like it was made specifically just for me, I loved it and only got rid of it a couple of years ago.  A brief history about this coat, back in the day my best friend Danny and I would visit the local thrift store on a weekly basis, it was a part of our roommate routine.  We’d both spend hours combing through old vintage clothing hoping to score some new digs, well…new to us at least.  Sifting through racks upon racks meticulously choosing what we liked, there were some hits and even more misses, the harder we looked the more gems we’d find.   One day we were both determined to score what we thought was the pinnacle of all university student thrift shopping and that was the “vintage jacket”.  It was our main objective and it wasn’t going to be easy because at the time retro jackets were a trend (we totally started it by the way).  After trying on what seemed to be every jacket they had for sale and on the verge of giving up there it was, in perfect condition, not a blemish on it and even had all the buttons still intact.  I quickly called dibs and as soon as I put the coat on I knew it was mine, fit like a glove in a very jackety way, best find ever.

(Crazy fact about the coat is that in the inside pocket there was a movie ticket stub that was issued in 1977, the same year as I was born and only 10 days off my birthday.)

Like I mentioned it was just a couple of years ago that I had to say goodbye to the old potential heirloom for it could not just hang there anymore serving no purpose.  Finally the jacket had run its course for any need that I had for it,…it was a very sad day, I said goodbye to an old friend.   I relinquished it back to the realm of thrift store purgatory where someday it might catch the eye of another retro jacket connoisseur and give someone else as much use as it did me.  That coat saw me through some of the best years of my life and when I think about it, it brings back a slew of memories.  I held on to it for as long as I could, I’d try to convince myself over and over that someday I would wear it again, someday, no seriously it still fit.  Who was I kidding?   The jacket made me look like a baby in a two sizes too small sleeper, I was clearly in denial, after a few moments alone with the coat I said a few words and placed the jacket in the goodwill bag then ran to my room crying.  No I didn’t cry, well maybe a little, it was dusty in the room.  No I was actually very happy that I donated the jacket back to where I had gotten it from some years ago, it had gone full circle and who knows where it might turn up next.

I bet as you’re reading this you too can recall some item of clothing that you held on to maybe a smidge too long and well past its closet expiry date.  I remember pairs of sneakers where my pinky toe holes gave away the colour of my socks and ball caps having sweat stain rings but it didn’t matter because of the perfect curved peek.  Looking back at my jacket, that cap and those shoes, it kind of, in a way acts like a synthetic journal quickly flashing up thoughts and memories which are forever attached to them.  There are chapters of my life that can be chronologically profiled with the help of some of my wardrobe, stages of my life that can be cat-walked down a ramp as my voice narrates in the background.  If you were to look through your closet now, is there anything that you just can’t throw away?  Are there items that have stood the test of time because you couldn’t bare parting ways with it or maybe the emotional attachment that it may hold?

Clothing can carry sentimental value for some of us, I still have to this day a dress shirt, t-shirt and suspenders combo that my grandfather use to wear.  It hangs in my closet and from time to time when I’m digging out something on a daily basis to wear I pass it on the hanger and instantly start to think about him.  My grandfather must have had twenty of the same combination of that dress shirt, t-shirt, and suspenders trifecta.  He certainly loved to rock the flannel, and  when I pass by it at the end of my shirt rack each morning I’m glad in this case I held on to the past.  I kept my grandfather’s ensemble because when I look at it, it makes me happy and when I think of him that’s how I picture him and he’s rocking the flannel as only he could.  We get these emotional attachments to the clothes that we wear because quite frankly and as funny as it may seem the clothes has been there with us the whole way.  That one suit we had straight out of college that helped us make it to interview after interview, that dress that has seen itself go from maid of honour duties to a night on the town, how something as simple as what we wore on a certain day can have so many emotions attached to it.

Emotions are one thing but people also care about their identity when we decide to put something on.  Clothing can also become synonymous with who we are, I knew a guy in high school who always wore a ball cap and he just became known for the cap, then there was the parachute pants girl, turtleneck guy…the list goes on.   I’m sure most of you can remember someone based solely on some item of clothing that they wore all the time or maybe there’s someone who you know now.  I was briefly known in political science class as the guy in the green puffy vest, yes I said “puffy”…moment of silence for the  90’s puffy vests .  Ok let’s forget the puffy green vest but my point is that certain clothing can define who we are or who we were.  I grew up playing sports and every time I put on a jersey as a kid it felt like something I would be doing for the rest of my life.   That phase came and went just as many did after, but when I see a jersey now or even get to try one on it takes me right back to the good ol’ high school days where sports consumed my life.  If you take a look at who you are today as compared to whom you were there may be similarities and I’m positive a lot of differences.  How has you’re style changed?  Has it changed at all?  Were you once a t-shirt and jeans guy and now it’s nothing only suits or maybe you’re a girl who wore nothing but black in college but now anything else is the new black.

I hope I was able to make you think a little bit with this post, sometimes when I think about something stuff just pours out.  The jacket meant a lot to me sure, but realistically it was more like a time capsule that took me right back to then and there.  So trust me, go through that closet or clean out your dressers, there may be some stories waiting for you to recreate all over again.  That coat that I bought and the day we spent at the thrift store was a day I will never forget, and a memory like that will always be worth more than the clothes on my back.