"Christmas Shopping Challenges are Often Self-inflicted"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Saturday, December 18, 2010

Common statements like, “I hate Christmas shopping, I don’t know what to get anyone, I can’t afford to shop, I hate the crowds and I can never find the advertised sale items, are repeated often this time of year.

It just seems Christmas shopping is a nerve-racking task. Add to that the fact the weather can be down right terrible to even go out in. As I see it, a shopping list made out just before the shopping spree also adds a lot of tension and it can contribute to an over-all unpleasant experience that continues right up to the last moments of Christmas Eve.

Well, the self-inflicted, unpleasant task I described can be avoided. Given a little extra time, instead of being in a big rush, you’ll find opportunities to do unique buying for those on your list. You can find gifts that are very special and suited to the recipients. Between Christmas and New Years this year, while trying to decide what to do with — and where to store your new gifts (that may well be re-gifted), think about how it could all be done differently.

About the time most Christmas shoppers are in full gear and stores are jammed with long lines of those hoping to get the special sale items (Black Friday came early remember?), we make our annual trek south and shopping is last on our list of things to do. We used to arrive at our winter home and race out to shop, wrap and ship by the deadline. We found we bought items not wanted or needed and had a hard time even deciding whom to give them to. Then time was wasted standing in line at the Post Office only to find out if we wanted the boxes there by Christmas we could spend more on shipping.

It became obvious we had to change our shopping habits or cancel our trips to Florida — an easy choice of course. I suggested we could just send a check because as grandkids get older their ideas of what they want become blurred. No longer could we choose a dolly or Lego set. Once they began driving, gas cards were a good choice and other useful gift cards worked well too.

We still wanted to get a few heartfelt gifts, ones that were special and told the recipient we were truly thinking of them. My wife, Pat, had a great idea this year; shop early and select special gifts just right for those on her list. She is a big fan of shopping locally and enjoys the small shops in our little town. On Saturdays all summer long she dropped into the Farmers Market in Port Austin to select gifts. We can’t share what they were because our kids read the column all over the country, but we can say they are all wonderful, hand crafted by true artisans. Some of the home-designed clothing, wood work, quilts, lamps and local area framed photos stretch the imagination. Many of the crafters would even make something to order, including knitted items or sketching. One of the items Pat chose for herself is a drying rack, made with PVC dowels the likes of which you would never find in a store.

This year, the Thumb Art Guild (TAG) presented another opportunity to do some special shopping. They sponsored a “Silver Bells Weekend” event in Port Austin where you could meet and greet the artist and buy or order a gift of your choice. The nice thing about shopping this way is you benefit local artists and are able to take the “rush” out of shopping.

I would like to add, you don’t have to break the piggy bank either, most items are reasonably priced. Another local opportunity to shop is at the Thumb Industries locations, where slightly used items can be bought for great bargains.

So — as you collapse after finishing your Christmas shopping, have a cup of hot cocoa and a homemade cookie (you did make some, right?). Light a fire in the fireplace and make plans for your family Christmas dinner get-togethers

Please try not to think of me here in the “sunny” south.

I would like to wish all my readers and the dedicated employees of the Huron Tribune, MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Correction: My column last week about MS Turanor PlanetSolar noted the weight of the lithium battery as 13 tons - the correct weight is 11 tons.

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