RESTORE-ing Christmas

illustration of a green recycling symbol with a star and bucket, to look like a Christmas tree

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The Record Exchange

By Amy Laundrie

(50PlusWire) I am going to admit this right now. Christmas shopping stresses me out. I feel pressure to find the right gift and sometimes resort to just grabbing something to get it over with. I wish I could restore the Christmas spirit.

To add to the pressure I’m feeling, several years ago my siblings and sister-in-law decided we would only exchange handmade gifts. Handmade!

In the past, my brother, a vintner and beekeeper, has given me a bottle of his amazingly delicious wine. This year I might also get a jar of his honey.

My youngest sister repurposes items found at resale shops with an alcohol ink process. She can transform the top of an old table into a work of art that makes one think of a glistening geode or a rushing mountain stream. I’m sure she’ll amaze me with her gift.

My other sister likes to sew, quilt, and embroider. One year she made me a colorful cloth purse that could have come from a Vera Bradley store.

My sister-in-law loves photography and once collected pictures of family members and made personalized coasters. All very thoughtful gifts.

And here I sit.

I worry. I stress. I think. Then a statement my friend Judy made comes back to me. Judy is challenging herself to only purchase clothes through resale shops or places like St. Vincent de Paul or Goodwill. It not only saves her money, but it supports organizations that give back to the community.

Profits from stores like St. Vincent de Paul provide food, shelter, clothing, and more to individuals in need. But another huge factor in Judy’s decision is that it combats the waste of our resources, and she wants to help our planet.

I’ve thought about the benefits of stores such as Baraboo’s Habitat for Humanity Restore, specializing in building materials, but I hadn’t thought about the need to recycle textiles.

I admire Judy’s goal and, keeping gift buying in mind, have a moment of inspiration. I’ll wander around the local St. Vincent de Paul and look in their craft section. Maybe I’ll find glass and wooden beads that I can string on a wire to make personalized wine glass charms. I’m suddenly eager to shop.

I can extend this idea to other family members and other resale stores. I don’t have the same talents as my siblings, but I know books. I love to visit my local used bookstore with its friendly, helpful staff, and a cozy independent bookstore that not only has rare books, but serves coffee and tea. Area libraries also often have used book sales. I bet I could find a book that will be perfect for my granddaughter who’s finishing a semester in Rome.

Ideas keep popping in my head. My other granddaughter will be starting college, so a book highlighting her new town would be perfect. I can easily find reading material for my four grandsons. Oh, and I’ll donate those books I just cleaned out of a bookcase.

I feel my excitement growing as I find my car keys. That good Christmas feeling is restored. ISI


Amy Laundrie is a retired teacher and the author of 12 books. Her memoir, “Laugh, Cry, Reflect: Stories From a Joyful Heart” features columns about pets, nature, teaching, and family.

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