Rob with Stuff 1

Here’s my handsome fellow at a flea market last summer. He left the album and hat behind after our photo shoot, but I’m sure we walked away with other goodies purchased that day. I can’t recall what. Nor can I remember the gifts I received last Christmas although there was plenty under the tree for me. Do you remember what you got?

We’ve agreed that this is the year we will rein things. College bills are daunting, cars need new tires and it’s really time for us to buy a new bed. Besides, we’re all grown-ups now. If we want it, we can figure out how to buy it for ourselves. The point is, in our house, we do not need more “stuff”.

But it’s Christmas so that’s what we do. It seems, impossible to ignore tradition and not get a tree, not put presents under it, not get up in the morning and cover each other’s laps in wrapped goodies. Not quite yet. But Molly, now a worker-bee as well as a student, gets that it’s tough to both pay bills and buy stuff (or eat out) willy-nilly. She has also discovered the joys of thrift shopping. We’ve agreed this year, to only buy each other second-hand gifts.

I’ve already scored some real gems.

glovesI haven’t quite decided who will get these wooly gloves ($4) but I’m thinking my sister will appreciate them. (you can let me know, A)

Although I appreciate how Goodwill Stores sort clothing by color (easy to pass by those salmon colored slacks) the amount of stuff is just too overwhelming — a bit like going to Kohls. I prefer smaller, church thrift shops usually tucked into basement rooms and run by women whose average age is 75 who lovingly price and merchandise the fantastic goodies donated by surrounding communities. In this neck of the woods, often very wealthy residents – resulting in some great finds.

For $4 I bought these cool lights I’ll hopefully get around to hanging from the porch before January. I can be a crank about a lot of holiday-hoopla but love Christmas lights – brightening up the long winter nights. R suggested these look like meatballs but I think they’re funky.


In that same shop I also found this beautiful frame for $2 – a keeper. I turned it over to R who will fill it with just right (probably zany) photographs. Not bad, right?


Of course, I do work in a bookstore and receive a lovely, extra employee discount during the holiday season so I will be buying new books for presents. But books don’t count as ‘stuff’, do they? We can never have enough of them.

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Where will you be shopping this year?

14 thoughts on “Stuff”

  1. Flea markets, thrift shops — you are talking my language!!! I love your idea of giving second hand gifts, and I couldn’t agree more about giving books — I love giving AND getting them as gifts. BTW, love the “stuff” photo — would make a great ad for a flea market!

  2. My parents are foodies so I research to find all the best cheap places to eat where we live (Chicago) and give them “gift certificates” (cash in an envelope) to go eat at the various spots along with recommendations of what to order.

  3. Trisha, as you may have noticed, my present giving has morphed from “stuff” to victuals. Homemade or store bought, eat ’em up and you don’t have to find a place to store ’em. I also like recycled things, but already have too much and assume most of the people I know do too!
    Enjoy the holidays, Sheila

  4. Love your loot. (R is very handsome, indeed.) Your list of thrift store finds got me in a holiday mood — shopping this way seems more fun and more creative, not just less pricey. Cheers!

  5. I think the idea of giving “experiences” is a wonderful one — and eating is certainly one of the best.

  6. We have managed to cut down the fearful gluttony of the years when the kids were little, but you’re right, it’s hard to totally abandon the gift-giving thing. As my brother-in-law has said, it’s fun to have everyone together unwrapping presents…really, the boxes could be empty…it’s just fun to OPEN and be together.

    Also, fun to see a photo of your guy! Handsome!

    Great to see you Friday! Thank you so much for your help. Everyone loved the day – so fun and festive. XO

  7. Tricia,

    Food. We’ve morphed (at long last) to gifts you can eat. We left a lifetime of accumulations behind three years back. Then we left more behind when we came back from France. Five suitcases for four people was our starter American life last spring. I haven’t the heart to buy more stuff that I couldn’t leave behind again in an instant. Thrift for everyday life. And food for gifts.

    Handsome guy… what aisle of which thrift shop did you find him on? 😉


  8. There are still things my parents gave me and even my brother that are part of my home and that ground me in my memory of them, of my mother’s thoughtfulness at Christmas. My folks were awkward in their love but they knew how to give presents. It was their way of showing they loved us. Just things. Yes. But also sacraments that pointed to that love that bring comfort now that they’re gone.

    Pam Houston said she takes a hardcover book as hostess gifts so I’m taking “The Oldest Living Things” to our neighbors’ who invited us for Christmas. Something about this rural neighborhood has taken the bite out of the Christmas loneliness.

    Your guy is cute. Nice to see what he looks like.

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