Tis The Season…

By Celia Hayes

To consider the 153,000th way in which I do not resemble Martha Stewart. Today, I am running a medium-warm iron over sheets of tissue paper, to take out the wrinkles and fold marks. Yes, indeedy, I reuse Christmas tissue paper, which was only slightly crushed and added to the top of a gift bag which we received last year. It’s only slightly used! It’s perfectly good.

I also re-use the heavy paper gift bags, as is our family custom. Some particularly sturdy ones have been circulating for a decade or so, and there are cardboard cartons and a large bag of Styrofoam popcorn in the garage. With a little forethought a sensible person with sufficient storage space need never be caught short of packing materials. Have you seen how much they charge for packing materials at the post office, the Container Store, or your friendly neighborhood accommodation address/UPS Drop/ Kinko-Klone? Why pay for things that your spendthrift friends and retail outlets are sending you, gratis? Most people will never notice, and those that do and hold it against you, those are people whom you are best off without. If you are related to them by marriage or economic bonds, my sympathies; unfortunately, I do not think Amazon.com offers “A Life” as a mail-order gift option, but at the rate things are going, this may be possible in the near future.

Number 1 or 2 in the ways in which I do resemble Martha Stewart? I am organized, and do my Christmas shopping early and all during the year; ever since I bought a Japanese porcelain tea set for my sister and stashed it under my bed in the barracks in Japan for six months until it came time in October to mail it home. This became a habit which sustains me yet.

We all know that gifts are obligatory for those we are bound to by ties of affection or duty. We know we will have to buy gifts; why not be sensible and organized, and purchase suitable somethings throughout the year, as we see them by chance and opportunity. Why be bludgeoned into buying any old thing at the last minute, or even… gasp (the last resort of a person who has no clue at all) dashing off a check dated December 25th. Even a gift certificate is better than for, in that it shows a grasp of which retail outlets the giftee prefers. It’s Christmas, which comes every year about this time; not like it’s a big surprise. But if you enjoy being packed into a mall or big-box store, jammed in cheek-by-jowl with a million other shoppers, attended by exhausted retail associates … whatever floats your boat. I shall think of you as I leisurely wrap my own Christmas presents in slightly used tissue paper.

You probably don’t want to hear about how the thrift store is the best place for baskets and picture frames… or that Half Price Books is the best place for books to build pretty Christmas baskets around. (Buy a basket at the local thrift store, and a cook book at an off-price outlet. Mark a nice recipe, and fill the basket with all the ingredients to make it. Package and ornament as your budget allows. When all else fails, buy people on your list something to eat. This does not fail. Number 3 in the way that I do resemble Martha Stewart.)

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to All!