As yet another Christmas shopping season looms on the horizon, today I experienced a revelation. A moment of enlightenment so profound that it not only inspired but COMPELLED me to write my very first blog posting. Ever. Alas, my surrender to the digital age is now but complete. But, I digress; yes, today I realized:
I am the only person I know who enjoys Christmas shopping!
Yup, I already know what you are thinking; you don't have to say it! Those huddled, shivering masses who spend Thanksgiving day in the Best Buy parking lot - braving not only freezing temperatures but often felonious assault with a shopping cart - surely THEY enjoy Christmas shopping!? Who am I to question such dedication to...err, um, the Spirit of the Season? Well, call me old fashioned, but dare I say, there may be a way to enjoy Christmas shopping without the accompanying asphalt camping trip...
How, pray tell, could such a thing be possible?
Well, upon further contemplation, I finally realized that all the reasons I enjoy Christmas shopping were all the same reasons I opened a Made in American store! So, with a similar dual interest in mind (your rediscovery of Christmas shopping joy and the potentiality of doing it in my own Christmas-friendly retail establishment!) allow me to humbly suggest for you three golden rules which may forever change your holiday shopping experience!
1. Buy Heirloom Gifts.
Perhaps this is the simplest test of all. Any gift which would be worthy of saving for one's children - is a gift worth giving. Before you place that item in the cart - be it a virtual or metal one - ask yourself a simple question. Is it of a nature that your intended recipient would value it enough to pass it on to his children? Obviously, color TVs, Ninja Turtles backpacks, $20 bills, and "As seen on TV!" gizmos don't fall into this category. That's why they are still unopened, in a basement storage bin, or enjoying their first year of a long life of landfill biodegrading by the time next Christmas comes 'round. Inevitably, the appreciation of the recipient will not long outlast the requisite "thanks Uncle Billy..." and wrapping paper clean up drill. Having turned the gift choice into a check-in-the-box - your recipient's enjoyment factor will follow suit.
Now, consider if you had spent just a bit more thought and research before selecting that gift. What if you spent the same $30 you did on that cheap, plastic overly-commercialized backpack on something of real value? What if you bought, say, $30 worth of ancient Roman coins? Or, a fine hand-painted toy soldier? Or, did some searching on EBay and found an unopened Lionel Trains boxcar from the 1980s (before they moved manufacturing to China)? If you put the true effort into the search to find something of real value - something of quality and worthy of safekeeping by the recipient - the reward will be twofold. First, the recipient will see and appreciate the obvious effort you put into your finding your special gift. If you've ever given a meaningful present, you know it's difficult to hide your excitement about giving it. This will show through on Christmas morning, too. Seeing that you valued the gift search, they will value the gift. ...And if you really did your homework, so will their kids and grandkids! Second, rest assured you will enjoy the hunt for that perfect gift - perusing through antique shops, Ebay sales or unique retail establishments far more than the cold big box store parking lot. It will, however, be the appreciation Christmas morning on that recipient's face which will truly give weight to the old adage that "it's better to give than receive!"
...to be continued!