Live Local, Live Small: ‘Tis the season to shop local and give gifts that benefit our community and state
Periodically, the encore editor lady reminds me that the Live Local column should talk about local shopping. “People are interested in where you shop,” she points out. Personally, I find that a little eerie. At the same time, I get the point that I have made the effort to learn how to shop local and need to spread that knowledge.
For a long time, part of the problem was that I was simply too broke to buy anything beyond immediate necessities. Much of this year has been devoted to paying down debt. (Though we did have two for us major investments: A ’65 Volkswagen Beetle and a ’67 Volkswagen Camper Bus.) Jock began a mild bit of teasing about a mid-life crisis on this topic but dropped it pretty quickly when I pointed out that the money spent on both of them combined wouldn’t even be a down payment on a Corvette. Not to mention: The investment in our relationship that VW restoration is proving to be is beyond a price tag (for me, at least). But the holiday season brings on an annual round of shopping for gifts, so this seemed like as good a time as any to review some Live Local shopping habits. Please, if you know anyone on the gift list, don’t ruin the surprise by telling them what they are getting.
Our 18-month-old niecelettes have learned the names and sounds of barnyard animals, plus dogs and cats. They seem to be fans of books and animals, so, though it is a little mature for them, Jock and I opted for “James Herriot’s Treasury fo Children.” Mom and Dad will have to read it aloud to them for a couple years,, but there are some beautiful pictures and the stories are some of our favorites ever written for animal lovers.
I wrestled for years with giving books as gifts, because I was afraid that since I own a book store people would think it was a copout. But it’s possibly the gift that I put the most thought into, because, for me, it is so personal.
We have a small person on our gift list, whose experience of Christmas morning is reported to be an avalanche of stuff. It’s kind of tough to compete with that. In addition, his parents are pretty much able to buy anything for themselves that they want, so it’s not like we could really get them anything special they couldn’t normally afford.
“Well, it’s a case of anything we do just has to be the thought that counts,” Jock remarked.
“Yes, but maybe we can come up with something they can do,” I mused. “What do you really want when you have small children? Time to do things?”
“A nap,” Jock responded. “You want a nap, and you want the kid to have a nap.”
We tabled that discussion for a little while. Then, I threw out a crazy idea: “What about a gift certificate for a day of boat rental at Greenfield Lake? That’s something they could all do as a family.”
“Do they do that?” Jock asked.
“They do boat rentals; Cape Fear River Watch runs it. Would you like me to call Kemp and see if we could get a gift certificate of some kind?” I offered.
“Yeah, I think that might be a good idea.”
As if our river keeper weren’t a busy enough man, I had to go and throw this idea at him. “Sure, I think that’s a great idea!” Cape Fear Riverkeeper Kemp Burdette responded (aside: Burdette was on “60 Minutes” on Sunday night to discuss the Duke coal ash spill). “We’ve never done it before, but I’m sure we can do it.”
“Wonderful! I’ll be by with a check this afternoon!”
Hilda, the most wonderful puppy on the planet, and I dropped by Cape Fear River Watch to find Kemp in the land of desktop publishing, putting together some gift certificates. It seemed the perfect solution: support the Cape Fear River Watch, an organization dedicated to protecting our drinking water, and get people out in nature for an unforgettable day.
“Actually, I think I need five more,” I told him.
I usually get the staff at the bookstore something from Tidal Creek Cooperative Food Market and gift certificates to Gravity Records. One year I got them gift certificates to Steven’s Hardware because we happened to have a lot of people who had moved that year, and new homes always need things from hardware stores. But this year, I think they are going to get some time on the water, courtesy of Cape Fear River Watch, and some goodies from The Scoop, my favorite ice-cream and hot-dog joint. Actually, we frequently get lunch from there. (One of the staff, Seth Parham, once commented, “It’s kind of weird eating a hot dog bought for you by a Jewish vegetarian.” But he seemed to make do.) Our furry children, Horace and Hilda Rumpole, will get squeaky toys from Steven’s Hardware (I swear: Steven’s sells everything!) and probably some goodies from Von Barkee’s.
The big question still remains: What do I get for Jock Brandis, the man who has everything and wants nothing? I shouldn’t say that; it’s just the things he wants— an end to world hunger, social justice, economic security for the billion poorest people on the planet—can’t be wrapped up in a box. He works toward these accomplishments daily. Jock and I have come to the conclusion that what we need together are memories and time. That’s part of the VW thing: It’s time we spend together and memories we make that are completely ours. I mean, hell, getting the transmission out of the bus is an epic tale that includes bending two pieces of angle iron past use, in an attempt to get the brake drums off. That’s the stuff that memories are made of and relationships are built upon, yes? So what could I possibly get for him?
After much hemming and hawing, it has been decided: We are going to go pet tigers. Don’t worry, he already knows this, because trying to get his schedule to synch with our plans took a lot of finagling. But we have managed to get a date, and we are going to tour The Carolina Tiger Rescue Center in Pittsboro, NC (faithful Live Local readers will remember that I have spent a lot of this year in and around Pittsboro). Carolina Tiger Rescue is a 55-acre park with 80-plus big cats. Jock has an incredible soft spot for animals, and though he goes to Africa pretty frequently, he’s only been on a photo safari once. (He’s there to work, not play.) This way we get to meet animals who are living in pretty great conditions and are rescued from not-so wonderful situations. And we get to do it in our home state.
Well, there’s a taste of what our Live Local Christmas is going to be: books, ice cream, squeaky toys, Cape Fear River Watch boating, and tigers. All money will be spent in the state, and aside from our trip to Pittsboro, all of it will be spent here in this community. As one gift-giver, I may not make that much of an impact, but as a small business owner, I can tell you it adds up. All the drops together can make a bucket of water. Please, join me in shopping local and supporting our community this holiday season. The job you save might be your own.