(Note: I’m on the road, so the the picture above is only half secondhand. I’ll update the picture later, unless you like the current photo!)
Several years ago, when my son was born and I was unemployed, I heavily swallowed my pride and went shopping for baby clothes at the neighbourhood Goodwill store. As I walked up to the store, I took a deep breath, and put on my best nervous smile as I walked in. I confessedly admit that I was a little embarrassed being in the store and worried about being seen. After all, wasn’t this what “poor people” did? I didn’t belong in there. Being raised in a comfortable suburban existence my whole life, I had somehow elevated my perceived social status over the years.
Well, today I’m still shopping in thrift stores. Those times I went baby clothing shopping really struck a chord with me, and it made me realize a few things. Firstly, I noticed that most of the baby clothing was almost new. I then realized that, new or not, that my infant son would never notice the difference. Eventually, the same principle would apply to me. I soon found some surprisingly good items for myself at the thrift stores, and purchased a few things to try on.
Months later, one of my friends took notice that I wore one shirt very often, and I told him that it was because it looked great and was very comfortable. I then remembered that it was a secondhand shirt, and I had totally forgotten that it was used a long, long time ago – probably after the third time wearing it. Later, I would go on and brag to friends about how much and where I scored my snazzy designer shirt for.
Isn’t it funny how something can go from embarrassment to elation?
Well, in the spirit of the season of buying and getting, I thought I’d spend today enjoying what I have, which is clothing that used to belong to someone else. Here’s what I’m wearing:
- Banana Republic long sleeve top. I picked it up for $3 in a Goodwill store in Maui.
- No name blazer that fits me perfectly. $3 at Goodwill in Toronto.
- No name slacks that fit me perfectly. $6 at Value Village in Toronto
- Pony high top sneakers. Surprisingly almost new (the sole is good). $3.99 at Value Village in Toronto
With my clothing ensemble put together, I could probably go cavorting around cocktail parties and hobnob at black-tie affairs if I choose to, but instead, I’m spending my time dancing street dancing in the snow. I definitely don’t have to worry about damaging expensive clothing since what I’m wearing is pretty durable.
Last year, I wrote about reducing the stuff at this time of the year. Really, it’s all just carbon in different forms. If you actually have the courage, try going to a crowded mall or department store right now, taking a walk, and looking around. Take a look at the exercise machines, the kitchen gadgets, and novelty gifts and seeing how much of a burden it could be to have all of it. OK, maybe those things are easy not to have, but does a similar feeling arouse in you when you see a cute pair of “must-have” boots, a news lens for your SLR, or the latest iPhone or iPad?
Most of us are probably already going to spend less since the global economy isn’t so hot, so perhaps you’ve already looked for more creative means. However, reducing stuff doesn’t necessarily mean spending less. A nice dinner out, tickets to a musical, or a small trip can cost more than an average gift. This is fine, and I’m not discouraging spending. If you do need to buy a gadget, it’s okay if you know you’ll use it often and for a long time. However, I would recommend you don’t buy gadgets for other people, because there’s a good chance they won’t use it as much as you would like. Vice versa, make it known that it’s okay that your friends don’t give you anything beyond hugs and good company.
For this holiday season, I’m mostly passing on the stuff buying, but I will celebrate the holidays by having memorable times with friends and family. I’d also like to hear your thoughts on creative ways to enjoy your holidays, so please leave a comment if you have something to share!
Cheers and happy holidays!