Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Gifts and Small Indulgences

“Let’s go to the movie show when the new James Bond film comes out,” Noel announced one evening.  “I really want to see it…it’s supposed to be the best of Daniel Craig’s movies and we still have those five dollar coupons my mom gave us.”  I chuckled at his comment for a couple of reasons.  I just love it when he says ‘movie show’.  It’s one of his endearing phrases that never fails to make me smile.  I also smiled because indeed we still do have some movie coupons given to us for Christmas by his mother.  She died five years ago which tells you how often we go to the ‘movie show.’  It probably really did cost five dollars back then.  But, we carefully marked the date of the opening weekend on the calendar and when the time came, to my surprise we actually went.

Well, if you haven’t seen Skyfall you should.  It’s highly entertaining and although I’m not a huge fan of James Bond, I was intrigued by the plot, the new and old characters and the settings spanning the globe.  The bad guy is so bad I found myself almost snarling at him at one point.  Interestingly though, one of the things that struck me was 007’s unfailing commitment to a few things that he truly loves.  This latest James Bond highlights most of the indulgences that he has become known for over the years.  I’m talking about the gin martini (shaken, not stirred), the impeccably tailored suits; the vintage Aston Martin DB5.  Yeah, I know…this sort of stuff is product placement and we’re supposed to all run out to our local Aston Martin dealer and buy one or two…preferably equipped with machine guns and eject seats.  But, honestly you have to admire a guy who is loyal to a few things that he likes.

And so I’ve been thinking lately about indulgences.   I try very hard to be thrifty.  I scour advertisements looking for good deals and then check out the internet to see if I can beat local prices by ordering.  I buy most of our groceries on sale and travel to at least two stores to get the bargains.  I make about a third of my clothes, I buy a third out-of-season at deep discounts and the remaining clothes come from the thrift store.  Heals of bread go into a bag in the freezer to be made into salad croutons and crumbs for breading meat and fish.  Aluminum foil is saved and re-used until it no longer can be flattened.  Sometimes I shake my head in wonder at these money-conscious habits, but I can’t help it…it’s the way I was raised.  “Waste not, want not” and all of that.  But, sometimes my thriftiness backfires.  The bargain sweater for twenty dollars is made of acrylic that fuzzes up with one season of wear and has to be replaced.  I end up buying and replacing in a never ending cycle and often pay far more than if I’d just made a high quality purchase.  You’d think I’d learn.

Besides that, every once in a while I think it’s good for the soul to splurge.  There’s a great satisfaction in using a finely honed tool, wearing a cashmere sweater or spending an hour being pampered by a massage.  When I do treat myself to a little luxury I find that I walk a little taller; breathe a little easier.  Small indulgences reaffirm that I care for myself and that I deserve to be treated right.  Now, I’m not saying that I bust my budget for these things.  That would be counter-productive because I’d just wind up feeling guilty.  What I am saying is that any little thing can be a luxury.  Many years ago when I was struggling though the university living far below the poverty level I remember talking to a fellow student.  She was just as poor as me, but she said, “You know, I just bought myself a new box of stationery.  I saved some money out of my grocery budget and bought the prettiest cards I could find.  Now I can go on with the drudgery.”  Sometimes that’s all it takes to carry on without feeling pressed upon or bitter.  And here’s a bonus:  if we treat ourselves right we end up treating others right also.

This is the season of giving.  We give of our time, our energy and our money.  We spend our days thinking about the perfect gift for Aunt Helen or how to give our children memories of gingerbread, Santa and magical lighted trees.  We give and we give and we give.  Isn’t it okay to think about filling up our own reservoir?  Can’t we indulge ourselves just a bit this season?  If you ask me (and nobody did) I say Yes!   Everyone I know is worthy of a small luxury to make the season brighter.  So, as I’ve been ticking off the items on my Christmas shopping list and making special gifts for others I’ve also reserved a bit of time to think about myself.  I just might find something spectacular that says, “I value myself.”  If that seems selfish, oh well.  I’ll think of it as filling up my well so I can spread more cheer in this season of goodwill.

And so I urge you to treat yourself this holiday season.  Make a concerted effort to find the perfect gift that feeds your deserving soul.  Or simply choose to make a cup of tea and indulge in an afternoon of reading.  Oh, what will you do for yourself?  A soft pair of leather gloves?  A finely made tool?  A box of pretty stationery? 

But, since this was my idea, I would like to make one small request.  If, for some reason your indulgence involves an Aston Martin, I’d sure love a ride…

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