Childfreelife’s Weblog

{December 6, 2008}   Catch and Release

I like to shop with my brother at weird stores and we look at weird stuff. My brother does this without me and actually buys me some pretty interesting stuff. We both love the hunt of roaming a store packed seemingly with junk and then find the coolest weirdest thing in there. The difference between my brother and I is that he goes ahead and buys that super weird little gizmo as a gift to unload on a friend or to put in his room. I however, look at the thing, carry it around for a bit and put it back usually.

Why do this? Well part of the hobby and fun of shopping is looking at cool stuff. It is like going to a museum or a zoo. Another fun part of shopping is finding a treasure in the junk. However, sometimes actually having that object in your house and paying for it isn’t the funnest part. First off, then you have less money for even cooler stuff, or more important stuff. Secondly, you have to find a place for the new object in an already packed house. I like to find something in a store, carry it around and look at it. Perhaps a green pottery lion, or a bottle shaped like a Greek goddess caught my eye. I pick it up think about how cool it is, enjoy the object and then put it back.

I don’t really think of this as frugality, although it is. I am not sacrificing anything with this practice, because really my favorite part of shopping is doing it lazily with lots of time and looking at and touching unusual things. I already have lots of unusual things at home I can enjoy, so I don’t need more, because that would make it harder for me to spend time with the things I already have. Cleaning is also a past time I like to take lazy hours doing as I look at my stuff and do interesting things with it. I tend to make new artistic arrangements around my house. Another thing I do while cleaning is reorganize my shelves until I see a present a friend gave me and then I relive memories of the person who gave me a gift. The more things I have the longer that process can take. I don’t want cleaning to be overwhelming.

The point of this post, is to consider what you like about each of your hobbies, really get at the root of it, and figure out if you are getting the most out of the hobby for you–and if you have to spend more money to enjoy it.


{December 1, 2008}   Hard Candy Christmas

And its been a long December and there’s reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I cant remember all the times I tried to tell my myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass
– Counting Crows, A Long December

Trent at The Simple Dollar made an emotionally stunning post this morning on A Long December

Two things touched me about this post. I lost my job on Wednesday, before Thanksgiving this week. I am feeling this song and his post very personally. My husband has been out of work for 9 months now. We are quickly looking at even more ways to cut back. I am going to apply for unemployment and beat the pavement to find both he and I new jobs. I wrote up two applications this weekend. But I am tired. I was working a long commute with no car for the last 5 months at a job I wasn’t getting or fitting in at. But I do have reason to believe next year will be better.

And the second point that touched me was his recommendations for spending the holidays. I would like to share with you one of my holiday traditions.


Sit down with your family and friends and give them a special gift. Either learn a story about the season–there are some in various holy books, folklore, and even popular books from your childhood. I like Irish and Welsh folklore, for example King Arthur and Finn McCool stories are popular with my friends and family. I get really excited about learning the stories and retelling them in my own style.
Or you can make a story up that fits your family or friends. A special treasured story my mother loved was when I told her what magical gift I would make for her if I could: A magical book that could hold all her catalogs so she could always go back and look at what she wanted to buy without having to keep piles of catalogs by her couch and a magic door at the entrance to the garage that would prevent my father from taking the treasures she purchased from said catalogs into the attic. She laughed so hard and she really loved that story. My mother later asked me to type it up on colored paper so she could frame it.

This year money is truly so tight that the presents I give will have to be free or nearly free. I can give things from my own collections, I can make some food cooked with love and attention, and I can give time spent together with loved ones.

One of my favorite songs to sing at times like these is “Hard Candy Christmas” by Dolly Parton from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Singing together is another way to have some special times. And just so I don’t appear so stingy as to not give any physical gifts, perhaps I will give hard candy as a present to my loved ones and print this song on the tags:

“We’ll be find and dandy
Lord, it’s like a hard candy Christmas
We’re barely getting through tomorrow
But still we won’t let sorrow bring us way down.”

et cetera