Every year it seems that the chain stores and the shopping malls decorate a little earlier. We now have become accustomed to Christmas decorations adorning the halls a couple of weeks before Halloween. The stores do so to promote the shoppers into becoming buyers of their goods and wares.
Here in our little part of the world, several groups start selling their goodies and specialty items a few weeks before the holiday season so that we have an opportunity to select that special something for that special someone, and get it wrapped and under the tree or shipped across the country or even around the world. Those groups are composed of handcrafters who are members of local churches in our area.
The women and men who provide us with these handmade items work most of the year as volunteers to create well-made items for their inventory. The annual Christmas Boutique season for 2015 continues this Saturday at Evergreen Conference Center in Oakhurst.
The ladies from Christ Church, Anglican have been busy with their sewing, knitting, painting, weaving and other crafty skills since February. They also use the talents of John vanDeursen, who creates wonderful treasures out of wood. He has wooden mangers, arks, tables, decorative display boxes that hold wine bottles or the little coffee plastic units that go into your countertop coffee machine. Area artist Phyllis McAdams adorns each box with an original painting. Her work was featured on the Sierra Telephone Company phonebook a couple of years ago. ECCO will be serving a warm lunch that always seems to be something we know as “comfort food.” The food is always excellent and the price is very affordable.
Last week we were able to visit the campus of Roman Catholic Church, Our Lady of the Sierras, and wander through the rows of tables lined up with vendors selling great stuff. I also look forward to getting my boxes of Sees Candies from those charming Catholic ladies - which saves my having to drive to Fresno and also gives the local church some much needed and appreciated revenue.
There will be church boutiques in North Fork, Coarsegold and YLP with several things in common. The handmade items are great quality gifts. When we give our special loved ones that handmade treasure, we know it will last for years and it isn’t going to be obsolete eight seconds after the box is opened.
We generally treasure handcrafted works because there is love sewn into each item or carved into each wooden item.
As you begin to look at your schedule for shopping, why not call a few friends and make a day of the adventure. Wandering from church to church, eating a meal with friends, buying a raffle ticket or two, getting several great items at rather inexpensive rates and helping the community because the sales help with the outreach programs of each church.
By the way, while you are out and about, be sure to carry cash or change for the bell ringers at our area supermarkets. The monies donated into those coffers stays here in the area to help our neighbors who have hit a tough spell. Remember to also buy a toy for a tot and drop off that unwrapped toy into any one of the Toys for Tots boxes so that the Marine Corps League can help Santa out this year.
I am looking forward to shopping at these various locations during the next few weeks, not because I have changed my usual opinion of shopping in general, but because I get to see neighbors from here shopping here and being happy in the search.
So I look forward to seeing many of you at the first of the boutiques, Martha’s Market this Saturday, Nov. 21, at ECCO and then at the other great craft fairs. I hope to be able to only give handmade items to those on my gift list.
Whew - quite a list of things to do. Gift for a tot, donations for Manna House bell ringing volunteers, set time to visit the boutiques, get Sees Candy, and one more - enjoy the spirit of the holiday with my friends, family and neighbors.
Now for the most famous four words outside of NASCAR, “Shoppers, start your shopping.”