Tidings of comfort

Just as Hansel and Gretel were lured to the woods only to be ensnared in the trappings of a well-played bait and switch, so are those of us enticed by the chocolate coated bombarded of advertising campaigns from big retailers this time of year.

As premature as July, I’ve noted the presence of Christmas items gracing the shelves of countless box stores - for no other reason than to drive us to surrender our hard-earned revenue to further pad the profit index of national retailers dampens my spirit.

Though my gift list has receded from previous years, still I have loved ones to procure presents for. So as I began my shopping, the sweltering truth became searingly evident … I no longer attain an inkling of satisfaction in shuffling elbow-to-elbow with other shoppers to simply satisfy my gifting requirements.

Disheartened, I took a jaunt around Oakhurst recently and reminded myself of the many options snuggled here and there through our sleepy little town. It’s not that I’m a stranger to shopping local, au contraire, mon frère ... rather I’m a diehard advocate. But still, this season I found myself shamefully tempted by the illusory promotional crumbs. Be it print ads, web popups, or the ever pugnacious television commercials, I had woefully caught the illusive profit oriented retail bug.

Gregariously searching for the perfect plethora of presents, I set out to rediscover each of our town’s treasured shops. Padding through the scrap booker’s paradise of The Cat’s Meow, my eyes feasted upon the endless possibilities. Delicate patterned papers, ribbons abound, boldly printed sheets, thousands of stamps along with a rainbow assortment of pen and ink and I knew cousin Lizzy would be in heaven.

My next stop took me on a global excursion through Artifacts gallery of responsibly sourced Fairtrade fine hand crafted jewelry, rare exotic rocks,handsomely uncommon ladies apparel, and intriguingly inspiring artwork perfect for the serious and novice collectors alike. Saying my farewell, I remembered the distinctive treasures of the Trading Post. Their distinguishing American Indian vibe drawing me back. With such a vast assortment of goods they’re guaranteed to please.

A stopover at Oakhurst Gift Works revealed an elegant spread of knick knacks, luxurious soaps, lending a wide array of charming gift options to choose from. Then there’s the award winning Purple Cow with its little bit of this and a dab of that. Perusing their frilly linens, plush bears, dolls, wood carvings, countless home accents, and festive seasonal accoutrements, complimentary cup of spiced cider and a homemade cookie in hand, and I simply lost track of time.

For my ever eclectic hard to buy for comrades, I excitedly acquired an array of one of a kind insanely inexpensive scores from Tokens; known affectionately by some as the vintage lovers version of heaven. Along with Cause for Paws, and the Wonderful Treasures vintage shop I discovered everything from Bakelite to cowboy boots, landing a munificent wallet friendly haul from each of these gracious merchants.

Branches Books beckons from its quaint corner slot in the Junction Plaza shopping center. Perusing the chock-full shelves, appreciating that could quite possibly have found the perfect present for one and all within these four walls, I discovered a snugly flannel for yours truly, (an early birthday present.) I simply couldn’t help myself.

I began once more to appreciate the genuine splendor in this altruistic tradition midst my meandering about the quaint shops of town. The thrill of the hunt is in the exploration; the personal attention given to selecting something exceptional for each individual, not the insanity of marketing ploys mainstream retailers shove down our throats.

For deep-seated adoration of the genuine reason behind the season, let us downshift, refocus, and rectify this ever mounting national issue only spurred on with the growing obsessive support of Black Friday. Take a deep breath, toss aside prejudiced views so many of us have toward the holiday shopping scene, and grab that shopping list. Together we can bring back the joy of giving … for Christmas’ sake.