08 December 2008

the price of spirit

It has dropped down to minus 20 here in Montreal, and the steam from a big pot of chicken soup is condensing on our windows.

Today just happened to be a day off from both my french class and internship, so I have been hiding away from the cold all day, poring over christmas cards, job prospects, online sudoku games, banana bread, website planning and jewellery making. Not a bad way to spend a Monday!

In an effort to get ourselves into some kind of spirit, brian and I put our xmas lights around our windows, and decorated our beloved (hand-me-down) silk plant. A simple trip to the dollar store (12 glittery, golden pears and 6 gold hearts for a two dollars) was all it took to fill me with an uncanny sense of nostalgic comfort. I know this is supposed to be a frugal holiday season for all of us, with less of a focus on material objects, but I think a toonie for some sparkly paraphernalia is acceptable.

Without giving away too much, I am also making all my gifts this year. They involve beads, canvas and Fimo, and some other secret ingredients not to be mentioned at this point.

I also decided to send out some xmas cards this year, and saved money by making them myself. I took the best scribbles from my french notebook, transferred them onto white paper, and traced over them with a sharpie. Then I took my designs to the copy store (two card designs on each piece of paper) and had them copied onto red, green, or yellow card stock. For 50 cards, I spent about $7. I'm trying my best —both out of my own financial necessity and as an acknowledgement of the financial milieu we are in—to cut back as much as possible this year.

But that doesn't mean things won't be pretty and personalized. I love gift-giving, and I am going to uphold that tradition by giving out simple, homemade trinkets and treats. Hopefully no one will mind.

A while ago, I posed for a photo shoot at my internship that had a "recessionista chic" theme. In virtually every publication, I have seen photo spreads, fashion features and gift guides with a similar cheap chic/frugalista theme. I suppose it's great that "thrift is the new black," but I've been shopping in consignment stores since elementary school. Now I have to fight the ruthless, aggressive shoppers who once flooded the malls at my usually quieter used clothing haunts. I know, how bratty of me.

But, I am always a bit wary of fads and flash trends. But maybe this theme isn't comparable to life-long bibliophobes claiming they love reading after discovering The Da Vinci Code. Maybe this really is a movement of necessity, a significant cultural shift, and maybe some people (including myself) will learn to appreciate a more spendthrift lifestyle.

Or will we all resume flooding designer shoe stores and getting bottle service as soon as things start looking up?

How much will we cut back this year, and how deep into debt will we be willing to go to keep up the holiday status quo? Will the holidays this year be lacklustre due to our cutbacks, or will it be refreshing?


brian said...

what a great tree that is.

Eric said...

oooo, I love the da vinci code. it's almost as good as life of pi, which I know you found equally as compelling.