Christmas Is: Shopping!

Don’t you love shopping for Christmas presents? Shopping is exciting as we prepare for the great day of sharing gifts with our loved ones.

Let’s be real. The most important question that must be answered as the “shopping days ‘til Christmas” wind down and anticipation continues to grow, is, “Where are we going to eat?” The choice of a place to eat while Christmas shopping can either enhance the experience or bring a cloud.

Christmas shopping at the Somerset Mall was always great fun. The decorations are beautiful, the stores are abundant, and they have The California Pizza Kitchen. The barbecue chicken pizza is amazing! I’m always ready to spend more after eating barbecue chicken pizza. Delicious!

Another place we loved shopping was The Village in Rochester. It was in Rochester while Christmas shopping that my five-year-old grandson said, “Papa, you’re going the wrong way.” I said, “No, I’m not.” He said, “Yes, you are. There’s the McDonald’s we just passed.” He was right. He didn’t get any Christmas presents from me. Just kidding.

The Village always has a beautiful Christmas display. Lights hanging over the walks and drives surround shoppers with a wonderful glow. It’s always fun to go to Pottery Barn at The Village. There is such a wide selection of stuff too expensive to buy, its fun imagining what it would be like to buy them. They usually have hot chocolate available for shoppers, but, obviously, since the pandemic changed everything, hot chocolate at the store is a thing of the past. Sad.

I love the smaller, locally owned, shops. Cottage Outfitters in Caseville, Michigan, is a wonderful place to go. Owner, Jonathan, always does an amazing job staging and decorating. There is always such a welcoming and warm atmosphere, shoppers want to slow down and stay a while.

I think the hallmark of any great store is its ability to create a desire to linger and shop slowly. During Christmas it’s easier for stores to do that, I think, but there are shops that have that natural ability to invite folks in and invite them to stay.

Another wonderful place is The Pineberry Shop in Brown City, Michigan. Loving Christmas and everything that goes with it is an open invitation to be pulled in and The Pineberry does it well. I love walking slowly through the store, taking in all the lights and decorations.

I would love both of these stores, even if my wife did not have a display of her “Up North Flannels” at each of them. For a couple of years now, my wife has been repurposing flannel shirts. She washes and irons them, then I sew on her “Up North” label near the left pocket. They are a wonderful way to be comfortable on those cold days, either outside when a coat is too much, or inside when you feel chilled. The shirts come in a wide variety of colors, all various types of plaid. We don’t have a website and we don’t sell the shirts online. You’ll have to visit Cottage Outfitters, or, The Pineberry Shop!

In my last post, I included many photos of the red truck with a Christmas tree in the back. Here are more! I found these all in one store!

If only I had realized how popular a red truck with a Christmas tree in the back would be, I can’t imagine where we would be right now. I might be sitting in a comfortable chair, surrounded by people I love, listening to wonderful Christmas music, enjoying the glow of a beautifully decorated Christmas tree. Wait. That’s where I am right now, and I didn’t imagine the red truck with a Christmas tree in the back. I guess we’re doing just fine.

Christmas shopping isn’t about stuff. It’s about lingering in the atmosphere of a desire to give and be with those you love. The smallest item can mean the world when it is given and received with love. Dollar amounts never made Christmas gifts more meaningful. To any mom, dad, or grandparent, it will be that little ornament made at school, covered with spots of white glue, that will last forever and mean the most.

Merry Christmas.

To others, Happy Hanukkah.

To others, Happy Kwanzaa.

To everyone, enjoy.

Christmas Is: Presents! Presents! And More Presents!

Several years ago it bothered me when the big box stores started stacking cheap buy-me-quick stuff almost to the ceiling long before Christmas. I know that Christmas is too commercial, as Linus says, but that’s just the way it is. No matter what, there is still something wonderful about Christmas that seems to catch almost everyone in its grip. Many many people, young and old, are touched by the desire to give. No matter how ornery we might be at other times, most of us still enjoy seeing the joy on someone’s face when they unwrap a gift from us.

The Bible says it is a bigger blessing to give than to receive. That really is true. Opening gifts is fun, but the joy of buying, or making, and giving gifts to loved ones brings a warmer feeling.

One Christmas when I had a particularly grievous streak of ornery, I told our boys to go find all the gifts we gave them the year before. What a stupid stunt. The previous Christmas we gave each of our boys a GI Joe with all the fixings that made them look tough. That might have also been the same year they each got a new bike. I don’t remember. Luckily, my wife was standing right there when I told the boys to go find their gifts and she objected. Strenuously. In fact, she told me I was acting like my dad. That did it. I told the boys to forget it.

I love getting gifts. But not as much now as I did when I was younger. I tease my young grandsons every year reminding them all the presents under the tree are for me but I promise they can help me open them. They think I’m crazy.

I don’t remember opening a gift on Christmas Eve every year as some people do. We always had to wait until Christmas morning, which just made it better. But one Christmas Eve we were allowed to open a gift of our choice. I had been begging for a pop gun and I was sure Santa had brought one early. When the time came, I picked up a present I decided was a pop gun that could be broken down into the size of a shoe box. I breathlessly opened the box and found a pair of slippers. Slippers wrapped in a shoe box. My wife’s family traditionally opened one gift on Christmas Eve, she said it was usually a new pair of pajamas.

I love Christmas and I love presents. I really love those big boxes of chocolates, even though we don’t ever buy them. I love those big goodie assortments all wrapped individually, like little cheese-cake bites, brownies, chocolate-covered pretzels, and M&Ms stuck together with chocolate. I remember nearly forty years ago we received a big flat gift-wrapped box in the mail. It was the biggest assortment of all kinds of great treats I had ever seen. It came from a cousin and I’ve never forgotten it.

Don’t you absolutely love these gift packages? They’re a candy-coffee-chocolate-cookie-pretzel lovers dream! They’re so pretty! They’re almost too great to open.

If you don’t care for the previous choices, here are some more. They’re everywhere! Some of them even have a mug to use when you brew the coffee to drink while you’re eating the chocolate.

If you prefer the brand name items, these could be for you. Starbucks is always a winner, and you can’t go wrong with the Peanuts Gang. Ever.

Here’s a question for you. Be honest, this is just between us. Don’t you wish you owned the copyright on the “Christmas tree in the red vintage truck”? Oh, my word, I do! They’re everywhere. We have one hanging on our front door in the middle of our wreath. There is another one in the cubby collection. Still another one sits on a shelf in the kitchen. We love them! But I wish I owned the idea and copyright, or whatever it is. Whoever came up with this is a genius.

Someone knew a Christmas tree in the back of a red truck would be irresistible. What a great idea! They don’t have to be exactly the same. If you change it just a little, there are several different renditions and you can get every one of them. In fact, you could do a search during Christmas and see how many different Christmas trees in the red truck you can find. I’m joking, but seriously, we do love the Christmas tree in the red truck. If I had more money than I knew what to do with, I would buy an antique red Ford truck and drive it around with a Christmas tree in the back.

The most fun present is the surprise present. You’re thinking, “Aren’t they all a surprise?” Of course not. Kids ask for what they want, and sometimes they get at least one or two things they asked for. Lots of parents surprise their kids with a gift that is entirely unexpected. As in the movie, “Christmas Vacation”, when Clark Griswold, after finally receiving his bonus from work, said, “With this bonus check, I’m putting in a swimming pool!” which brought screams of excitement from the family, and Clark said, “That’s it! That’s the big one!” The surprise gift.

However you choose to share gifts with your loved ones, anything from the heart is a good gift.

I hope your Christmas is filled with heart gifts.