Category Archives: Shopping

Family Jewels


Where it all began

Where it all began

I received some disappointing news last week.

In a few short months, a family-owned jewelry store in my hometown is scheduled to close after nearly seven decades in business. With roots in the “old neighborhood,” five generations of my family, from my grandparents to my great nieces, have worn sparkly things and watches purchased at Freeman Jewelers.

First Holy Communion crosses, add-a-bead necklaces, charm bracelets, rings from Dad, Christmas gifts hidden in tree branches, engagement rings, and custom designs and settings have marked Sacraments, life milestones and special occasions.


My Mother is no longer able to wear the jewelry she once enjoyed so much. As her dementia progressed, she began throwing her jewelry in the trash. Someday it will be worn and enjoyed again by another generation, but for now, it is safely tucked away.

Her jewelry was purchased from this family owned store. The value of this jewelry is not in the precious metals and stones, it is in the memories. The memory of helping Dad select just the right gift. A tiny, wrapped box hidden on a Christmas tree branch. The memory of Mom’s face when she found it, and the delight when she unwrapped it.

For our family, there has never been another place to purchase jewelry. Or get a new watch battery. The Freeman family has been a constant. They are genuine, friendly and ethical. Their merchandise is beautiful and unique. They catered to every budget. While I am happy for the 2nd generation, sibling owners who will now enjoy some well-deserved retirement relaxation and fun; selfishly, I am sad to see them go.

I feel like we have a shared history, and I will miss them and their store.

Where will we shop now?

I’m not interested in Jane Seymour’s Open Hearts Collection, and I definitely won’t ever say  “I went to Jared’s.”

Buying and receiving jewelry will never be the same.

Another family owned business, a lovely home furnishings and decor store also recently closed its doors after 30+ years in my hometown. Apparently,  the trend towards online purchasing, and folks furnishing their homes with cheaper decor, rather than investment pieces, had resulted in declining sales.

How sad.

I hate that this keeps happening, but I understand how it does.

In our pursuit of paying less, we have moved away from buying from the “little guys.”

We’ve been seduced by perceived savings at national chains, big box stores, and on-line retailers.

The falling prices at Walmart are enticing. Personally, I’ve never felt good walking into a Walmart. I find it rather depressing and avoid it. Now Target on the other hand….

We head to Target for household items. Instead of sticking to our list, we suddenly find $150 in “must-have” purchases.  Come on, who hasn’t looked at their bank statement or credit card bill and thought, What the heck did I buy at Target last month?

A 20% store coupon makes us antsy.  We must to get to the mall before our coupon expires.  We can’t miss the chance to  “save.”

I confess, I recently took a spin on the Old Navy merry-go-round.

They were having a sale.  I went shopping. I earned super cash. I spent the super cash. The next day, everything was 30% off. I shopped again. I earned rewards.

Yippee!!!  I was saving SO MUCH MONEY that my Gap Visa bill was……$500. Wait, What? How did THIS happen? I finally got off that ride.

We sit on the couch, shop online,  and with one click enjoy almost instant gratification. They tell us: folks who bought this, also bought….this. So, we toss that in our virtual shopping cart, too.  Amazon Prime. Free shipping. Brown boxes on the porch.

But, are we really saving anything?

Of course not. We’ve been tricked into buying way too much stuff.

Shame on us.

With all these big box bargains and online deals, we are losing more than just our own cash.

Locally owned businesses are the heart and soul of city. Community means people. These business people are more vested in their community than any big chain could ever be.

Losing the family owned businesses in our communities is also leading to the retail homogenization of America.

Every city and town has shopping centers with Kohls, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Target, Staples, Home Depot, etc. It  is revolving scenery, with only changes in landscape.

We can buy the same stuff in every city.

This is especially evident in department stores.

Macy’s and Bloomingdales INC line will soon have us all looking like these guys:

Some folks thought Star Trek..I think they all bought the INC line.

Some folks thought Star Trek..I think they all bought the INC line.

We are at risk of losing our individual style.

Even worse, communities are losing their individual personality.

What do we often love to stumble upon while traveling?

A charming downtown area. A walkable shopping district. Drinks or dinner followed by checking out the area, on foot. Whether it is a nostalgic or modern vibe, these areas give a destination its personality.

If we purchase a trinket, gadget, Christmas ornament, or article of clothing, it automatically has the memory of the shop where it was purchased and the trip we took, attached to it.

The same can’t be said for items randomly purchased at the mall, or a national chain. It’s just bland stuff.

I’ve had enough bland stuff. I’m hungry for local flavor. I want locally owned businesses to come back…STRONG.

Make a plan to celebrate Small Business Saturday on November 29th.

Stay away from the mall madness and the big chains.

Plot out some locally-owned shops to check out.

Support a hometown artisan and enjoy the added benefit of buying American made.

I bet you’ll find some unexpected treasures.

If shopping isn’t on your agenda, you can still participate.

Start your weekend by grabbing breakfast at a Mom & Pop coffee shop.

Visit your local hardware or paint store while working through your “honey-do” list.

Instead of watching the game at a chain sports bar, grab a beer at a locally-owned joint.

If dining out isn’t in the budget, hit the butcher shop and dine in.

Shop small on November 29th.

And then, make a habit of it.

Locally owned businesses are the precious gems in our community settings.

Let’s do what we can to make sure they continue to SHINE.

shop small











Well-heeled or healed?


DanskoA few years ago, I was in Chicago for an International Expo. It meant long days standing in an exhibit hall.

I had recently purchased a pair of black patent leather shoes by Dansko. They’re water resistant, non-slip, great for a healthy back and super comfortable.

The Chicago weather was cold and rainy, so my Danskos were the perfect thing to wear.

One of my stylish nieces lives in Chicago. When I walked into her apartment one evening, she stepped back and in the tone a daughter uses only with her mother (and Godmother) said,  “WHAT….are you WEARING?”

I realized she was looking at my shoes.

I tried to sell her on the benefits of Danskos.

She wasn’t buyin’ it.

“Those are…. AWFUL! ….just  TERRIBLE!”

Then she added, “They aren’t even….FEMININE!”

Hey, I was  already wearing black pants and a Land’s End blouse with a company logo, how much more utilitarian could a gal look?

I was comfortable. She was disgusted.

Two months later, I again traveled to the snowy Midwest for Christmas, wearing my Danskos in place of winter boots.

I was immediately scolded: “OK…NOW you’ve crossed over. You’re wearing them ALL the time, aren’t you?”

I had nothing to say for myself. It was true. I had been powerless; seduced by the comfort and practicality of my butchy shoes.

Cited by the entire family fashion police force, I was a victim of officer brutality. Shamed back into cute shoes, I vowed to wear my horrible Danskos only when required for work.

Months later, when warm weather arrived, I dug my Spring collection out of the back of the closet. I wore strappy heels every day for a couple of weeks.

Clearly, fashion sense trumped common sense.

Soon, the pain propelled me to a podiatrist.

The foot doc was passionate about healthy feet. I eyeballed her, and noticed she was sporting a pair of athletic shoes.

She quickly schooled me on the evils of flip flops, all thong-style shoes, ballet flats, and the pitfalls of so-called “comfort” shoes. I sat there mentally sorting the contents of the shoe cubbies in my closet. In my mind, all that remained was athletic shoes and those Danskos – which according to the Doc are great for healthy feet.

Panic set in. I told her about a family wedding just 4 weeks away, and wondered what shoes I would wear. She listened, and then handed me a framed photo of her family taken at a recent, and very fancy wedding.

Her dress was stunning. Her shoes were low in sensibility and high in fabulosity. This Doc possessed the style and elegance that seems to be innate to many Persian women. Perhaps she wasn’t all scrubs and running shoes.

She dispensed this girlfriend medical advice :  “You have to live! Go buy some fabulous shoes. Before you get dressed for the wedding, take 4 ibuprofen. When you arrive at the reception, have a cocktail or glass of wine. Then take 4 ibuprofen with dinner. The next day, put your athletic shoes on and let your feet recover.

I followed the doc’s treatment plan. While my foot made a complete recovery, my style prognosis is bleak.

For many women, buying shoes is an easy way to stay current. Despite figure flaws or shifting shapes, we can always count on finding something cute to fit our feet.

Then we hit middle age, and the sexy foot talk begins:  Bunions, arches, and arthritis. Neuromas and plantar fasciitis.

Suddenly, slipping into something more comfortable means putting in our custom orthotics.

Ironically, the most painful step is admitting you have a problem. Surrendering to rehab is difficult.

I know I’m not the only gal struggling to give their unhealthy addiction to cute shoes, the boot. I hear it from women frequently.

A few months ago,  The Laughing Mom grieved the loss of her life in cute shoes.

I was reminded of the conflict between the shoes we want vs. the shoes we need, when I saw the new Sarah Jessica Parker shoe collection at Nordstrom.

First of all, SJP had me at grossgrain ribbon. In a sweet homage to her mother, and the only hair accessories they could afford during SJP’s childhood, the shoes have grossgrain ribbon along the back of the heel.


The colors are fresh and the styles are elegant.

While the collection is lovely, I have an issue with it.

SJP is celebrating her 49th birthday next week, which means she is middle-aged!

Since she’s one of us, I’m applying some peer pressure: Not to change her style, but to help her sisters born in the 60’s, with ours.

We don’t need more Manolos, Jimmy Choos, or Louboutins for special occasions. The market is saturated.

We need an everyday shoe breakthrough!

Middle-aged gals want to be well-heeled daily, in gorgeous shoes that are healthy for their feet.

I’m tired of buying good-for-my-feet shoes simply because “Well, they aren’t too bad.”

Maybe SJP will step it up with her fall collection, and bring us some beautiful shoes from Italy, that are sensible enough to wear every day.

In the meantime, if you do splurge on a pair of SJP’s dangerously cute kicks for your Spring collection, they may empty your pocketbook a bit.

On the bright side, you’ll have room for that bottle of ibuprofen.*


* This is not intended as medical advice.  While I studied for my Web, M.D. via Google, I am not a licensed physician. 

Red Carpet Ready


Oscar Red Carpet

Photo credit: Hollywood Reporter

As the saying goes, “It is an honor just to be nominated.”

While I’ve been crossing off the days in anticipation of the Academy Awards on 3.02.14, I have received some exciting news of my own.

I learned that I have been nominated for a Liebster Award. This nomination came courtesy of  Jenn Lost In Chaos.

My excitement quickly turned to anxiety, when I realized:  I’m not at my goal weight, and I have to be red-carpet-ready for my big moment!

Oh no, what will I wear? I guess I’m going to have to depend on shape wear to save my fanny…among other things.

Luckily, I recently heard about a new line of shape wear sold via one of those mesmerizing late night infomercials.  I had to see it for myself, so I got my Google on. I wasn’t sure what search terms to use, so I started with “Spanx for arms.”

I was surprised to find more than one manufacturer of shape wear for arms. Is this a great time to be 50 years old, or what?  No need to worry about bingo arms or bat wings in our future!

Then I looked more closely. The “Armery”  appears to create sausage arms, especially in the nude shade. That’s it. I vow to pick up my hand weights and do the necessary reps and sets to avoid walking the red carpet with giant bockwurst swinging from my shoulders.

During this last Holiday season, I was staying with the hilarious sister. One evening, while she was getting dressed for a party, she called me into her bedroom. There she stood, wearing only her black bra and panties and a cleverly designed “torsette.” By the way, believe me when I tell you…..she looked exactly like this:


She handed me the tag she had just cut off her new shaper, and said, “Read this!”

I sat down and read:

“Invisibly smoothes, shapes and slims. Wonderful Edge® no ride, no lines…Shape your waist and smooth your back….Wonderful Panel® no ride, no lines with a seamless appearance…..stretches for a better fit and more comfort”

The hilarious sister said, “Now watch this.”

She sat down, and amazingly her torsette was instantly in motion. Very s-l-o-w-l-y, the hem at her hips began to roll, and like a motorized window shade in a Las Vegas hotel room, it steadily rose until it reach her bustline. In a matter of seconds, like a high roller on the Vegas strip, I was enjoying my own priceless view.

Naturally, I made her stand up, sit down and repeat this. Several times. It was hysterically funny, and we were in tears.

As she struggled to peel off the torsette, she said, “You know, it’s a good thing people can’t see what’s going on underneath your clothes.”

Amen sister.

Needless to say, that shape wear fail and it’s tag full of empty promises was returned for a full refund.

In addition to the torsette, options in shape wear now include: tummy trimmers, thigh slimmers, butt lifters, cellulite smoothers, back fat banishers. I’m all for proper undergarments, skirts and dresses that “hang” correctly,  and smooth lines…but this is getting ridiculous.

Now we find out that shape wear can cause health problems. Surely, this is a surprise only to men people who have never worn any. While there are gents who sport Spanx For Men, personally, I haven’t heard any fellas tellin’ tales. However, most women have had a painful shape wear experience at some point.

There is the shaping-camisole-caught-in-your-curlers-conundrum; the bruising sensation as a Spanx waistband traverses the knees to hips region; the fierce struggle to squeeze into an all-in-one shaper that results in dewy make-up and messed up hair. This brings suffering for beauty and fashion to another level.

I had to help a bride elope from her oppressive shapewear halfway through her wedding reception. She could barely breathe due to a bridal belly ache. The petite bride had tiny Spanx so I was able to discreetly hide her bridal shaper in my small evening bag. No one was the wiser. If I ever had the nerve to ditch my shape wear midway through an evening, I’m certain mine would require something more the size of a satchel.

My own painful shape wear incident happened during a long afternoon and evening of funeral home visitation for my Mom’s husband, Gene. I was sure I was going to need amputation…at the waist, due to strangulation by a shorts style shaper. The situation became excruciating after a carry-in dinner of Coney Dogs from our hometown favorite, in honor of Gene. Believe me, the absurdity of eating hot dogs with chili and onions at a funeral home while wearing a shaper, is not lost on me. Frankly, I’m surprised rocket combustion didn’t launch me into orbit.

Wait…..What’s that? The Leibster Awards doesn’t involve an actual ceremony, a red carpet or a statue? I can stay on the couch for this Award Ceremony, too? 

Darn! I had a spot cleared on the bookshelf for my statue.

Silver lining: I have the perfect thing to wear. Yoga pants. Sans shape wear.

I’m golden after all!

Many Thanks to Jenn. It is an honor just to be nominated.

Now go check her out and see what she is up to over at  Jenn Lost In Chaos.

In The Bag


The future came and went

The future came and went

A few months ago, our city joined a growing number of California cities and counties and introduced a ban on single-use plastic shopping bags. I understand the reason for the new law. This is a beach town, and the ban is a positive step towards keeping discarded bags off our beach and out of the ocean.

Shoppers here in Surf City now have three options:

  1. Bring their own reusable bags to the store
  2. Purchase reusable bags which vary in price from $.99 to $5.99
  3. Purchase a paper bag made from recycled paper for a .10 “pass through fee”

I’ve been in the habit of toting my reusable bags to the market for quite a few years, but the ban on plastic bags applies to ALL stores:  Groceries, Target, Home Depot, Lowes, drug stores, etc.

Overall, it has been a smooth transition, but we’ve had our rough spots. I’ve witnessed some tense confrontations between shoppers and cashiers and baggers. Unfortunately, none of cashiers or baggers are members of the city council, and therefore didn’t pass the ordinance.

I’ve heard shoppers demand to know what is being done with the revenue generated from paper bag sales. (Revenue stays with the store to cover the expense of providing the costlier paper bags.)

I live near a large retirement community. I’ve seen defiant Seniors wheel carts of loose groceries out of the store. Their purchases rattle and bounce across the pavement on the way to the car. Then they pile the loose groceries into the trunk of the car.

What happens next for these stand-your-ground-shoppers? How many trips does it take to get a trunkful of loose groceries into the house?

Seeing this, I wistfully recalled the days of the “lazy man load”:  looping the handles of at least (8) plastic bags over each outstretched arm in an effort to get all the groceries into the house in a single trip. We’ve all done it, but why? We’re not Sherpas ascending Mount Everest, we’re merely transporting the load from the car to the kitchen.

I quickly discovered that a full day of errand running requires several bags. This is where my dilemma began.

Maybe it’s just me, and my OCD…. but I feel I need to use store specific bags. I mean, is it acceptable to carry an Albertsons bag into Ralphs? I feel sorta hoity-toity carrying a Whole Foods bag into folksy ‘ole Sprouts. It seems downright gross to put my shiny new purchases from Target into a ratty Safeway bag.

This was getting complicated, so I decided to forgo the store-branded bags altogether – well, except for the freebies – I mean let’s be reasonable.

I went online. Since I hate visual clutter, I had the bright idea to buy bags to match my car. This way my cargo compartment would look mono-chromatic and orderly during a full day of errand running. Hey, you find your bliss, and I’ll find mine.

Then I began to wonder: Could the reusable bags technically be considered fashion accessories? Should they match my outfit? Maybe the should match my shoes? Unsure, I went ahead and bought a few in a bold, black and white toile print. Classic, with a twist.

Luckily, until we sort out the style guidelines, I’m confident a Trader Joe’s bag works as a solid neutral. Like nude patent leather, it goes with everything and you can carry it anywhere. It’s what my Mother would call “transitional.” It is widely accepted as the “go-to” bag. Thankfully, I own a several of these, and a few could be considered vintage gems.

Many of us germa-phobes sanitize our shopping carts with anti-bacterial wipes upon entry into the market. But concerns have been raised about the reusable bags presenting a more serious sanitation issue. Cross-contamination is inevitable. Bacteria and viruses can even be transferred from one shopper’s bag to the next shopper’s bag via the bagger.

Oh you think this sounds crazy? Did you hear about the reusable shopping bag that sickened an entire soccer team in Oregon?

Nope, no need to attend a Family Pa-flu-za or embark on the Explorer Of The Seas. Another modern convenience: you can pick up a case of Norovirus right at your local market.

Crap! I may need to just sack everything and start over, because now I need bags that are WASHABLE

For now, the collection of shopping bags in the back of my car continues to grow.


I’m not living in my car, but I am officially a bag lady.

Christmas Chicks


Christmas chicks list_Page_1 My girl Maria* is 13 years old. While I know nothing about her, and I will never meet her, I do know what is on her Christmas wish list.

For nearly 10 years, I have been lucky to be included in a group of women – a fabulous idea dreamed up by the kindness, and generous spirit of my friend Mary Ellen. She shared her spark of inspiration during an “I have an idea, whaddaya think?” moment on a morning beach walk.

She recognized that many of the tremendous Holiday donation programs focus on small children. Teenagers existing in the awkward space between childhood and adulthood, are often forgotten. She knew exactly which organization she wanted to work with.

A few  months later, Christmas Chicks were officially  hatched!  The flock includes approximately (85) women.

Every year, each of the Christmas Chicks  are  “paired with” a teenage girl who is a permanent resident of a group home.Girls in the care of this wonderful organization, have been removed from their  family because it was an unsafe situation for them.

Their abuser may have been a parent, a family member or perhaps their Mom’s boyfriend. While each girl’s situation is unique, they all have one thing in common: the adults in their life have failed them  through abuse, failure to protect them, and broken promises. Everyone in their life has let them down. Sadly, sometimes  Mom chooses the abuser over own her daughter.

During the holiday season, they become our girls. They are asked to make a wish list of (3) items.

Each year, shortly before Thanksgiving, each Christmas Chick receives her girl’s name and Christmas list, and then……she gets her  Santa on! She purchases the three items on the list…and only what is on the list.

This is possibly my favorite shopping to do during the Christmas season, because I know it has such an impact on the recipient.

Thankfully, my loved ones are blessed to have warm woolen mittens,  sparkly things, and techie gadgets that beep and tweet.The joy of shopping for them results from finding something unexpected that I know they will enjoy.

Kids in foster care or in the care of an agency often times don’t have many personal possessions. Our girls give careful and thoughtful consideration to writing  their list.

Over the years, I have purchased typical teenage girl things: pink hoodies, basketballs, Tinkerbell  and Betty Boop stuff, cameras, scrapbooking supplies, Victoria’s Secret body mist, Bath & Body Works products, and every year it seems: a blow dryer.

The unwrapped gifts are put into large Christmas gift bags.

On a Thursday evening in December, Mary Ellen hosts all the Christmas Chicks for a lovely and very lively evening of holiday cheer –  including in past years, a reindeer game…of dice. Nothin’ like dozens of women frantically rolling dice into pie tins,squealing for doubles,  and running to claim, or even better yet – steal a prize. It is a mad frenzy, because the stakes are high!  I mean, one year I scored an entire case of Costco toilet paper!

Due to the organization’s  policy of confidentiality, the Christmas Chicks never actually  meet their girls. The party also serves as a means for gift gathering, as Kimberly and her elves  efficiently wade through a sea of large Christmas gift bags and organize it all. The gifts are collected, so  the girls can receive them on Christmas morning.

I missed the fun of the Christmas Chicks party last night, but I know the Chicks were kickin’ up their heels and shakin’ their tail feathers on the dance floor!

While I didn’t make the party, I did get to enjoy shopping for Maria! The items on my Maria’s list were:

  1. Boom box with AM/FM and CD player
  2. Blow dryer (1875 watts please)
  3. Journal

I love this list, because the items on it are transformative for a teenage girl.

As a curly-haired girl who endured my teenage years before the advent of ionic blow dryers, styling products, and the heaven-sent Brazilian blowout, I know the importance of a good blow dryer. I hope the one Maria receives will allow  her to face her challenges with the self-confidence gained from feeling well-groomed.

We all know  how music can enrich our life, soothe our soul, touch our heart and motivate us to shake our groove thing. I hope the boom box Maria receives  provides a soundtrack for her teenage years:  background tunes for a study session, a comfort during heartbreak or disappointment, and a dance party when she’s celebrating with the girls.

I smiled when I saw that Maria wanted to  journal.Writing is therapeutic in many ways.  I know the clarity  that can be gained from making a list, and that writing is a powerful way to process emotion. I also know that, if you  never dream it…it will never be. I hope writing is a step towards healing Maria’s heart, and I hope she fills the journal with dreams. Really big dreams.

As the Director of these homes has expressed, the gifts mean more than Christmas morning presents and material possessions. To the girls, it means someone followed through. Someone made a promise,and kept it. Often for the first time in their life, they weren’t let down by an adult. Even though, it’s a person they will never meet, it gives them hope.

Sure, the Chicks follow the rules and put only three gifts in the bag, but somehow the bags overflow with two additional treasures to cherish: love and hope.

To me, that feels like a little bit of Christmas magic.


*Name has been changed

Thanksgiving Mourning


Where did it go?

The ONE holiday that was about two things, and two things only:  family feasting and giving thanks, seems to be disappearing. I would mourn the loss.

Thanksgiving doesn’t require midnight noisemakers, chocolate hearts, egg hunts, fireworks or gift exchanging. No diversions other than football in the yard or on the flat screen.

Thanksgiving Day doesn’t even require much of a schedule. It goes without saying  “We’ll eat at 1:00” really means at least 2:00. Who cares?  The family cooks are taste testing, and even the folks just hanging out in the kitchen sneak enough Q.A. nibbles to tide them over until Grace has been said.

No schedule means relaxation. It is our day to put everything on “pause.” Interrupting that relaxed vibe with the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping has to be the worst idea of 2012. Do we really need yet another day on which to be a greedy, grabbing, glutton in a retail store?  The idea of more, more, more material possessions, seems to me to be in direct conflict with the simple meaning of Thanksgiving. Can’t we commit for just one day with nothing on the agenda but giving thanks and spending time feasting with our favorite people?

Honestly, walking into a Wal-Mart any day of the year is sort of depressing to me. Finding myself in a stinky Wal-Mart (come on, they all have that icky, weird smell) on Thanksgiving Day might just get me picked up and locked up on a Code 5150.

When it comes to tradition, I am sentimental. Aren’t family traditions a part of the reason we enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner so much? Throughout the year, some of us count calories or Weight Watcher points. Almost everyone seems to be eating healthier: reducing their fat, sugar and salt intake; and focusing on eating more fiber, fruits and veggies. However, most of that goes out the window on Thanksgiving Day, as we use recipes from our Mothers and Grandmothers to prepare dinner. Most of these recipes are high in fat and heavy on sugar. They are delicious! It is an acceptable 1-day hall pass for dieters.

I’m not sure why these dishes taste so good. Is it because they are so indulgent after our varying degrees of gastronomic self-denial; or is it because they are being enjoyed in the company of our favorite people? Amid the celebration, these recipes provide a sense of continuity, even before we are aware of it. We can count on them, year after year. They connect us to our extended family when distance separates us. When loved ones have passed away and are missed more deeply during the Holidays, there is a certain comfort & joy to be found in trying to replicate their signature dish, dessert or cookie.

As families grow and change, traditions evolve. Each new member brings his or her own sense of tradition. Some of these traditions may be blended in, or the celebration location may change. An early morning Turkey Trot might be run, lactose-free or gluten-free items may be added to the menu, and the turkey might be deep fried instead of roasted. One year, the hilarious sister and I unwittingly turned Mother’s Classic Mashed Potatoes into Lavender-infused mashed potatoes, when she pumped the dish soap dispenser at the exact moment I was pouring a pot of boiling potatoes into a colander. Some recipes are best left unaltered.

Still, the focus of Thanksgiving remains feasting with family, and just being together. Oh, sure, the gathering may evolve throughout the day into two separate parties: a hen party inside, and the roosters and their cigars outside. That still counts as togetherness.

I think some traditions should remain unchanged,  so I offer the following suggestions:

  • For vanity’s sake, avoid the stores and their fluorescent lights.  You’ll look much better at home in the warm glow of the fire.
  • Instead of parking at the mall, and spending cash – Park your fanny and your full belly in a comfy chair and spend time  just hangin’ with your loved ones.
  • Skip the hunt for the bargains – hunting in the cupboard for Gladware and Ziploc Bags to transport leftovers is challenge enough.
  • Forego the battle stampede for the limited number of  “Door busters.” You won’t miss it.  Stay in and don your battle gear for an evening of Euchre, Poker, and Pictionary or better yet:  Mexican Train Dominoes.  Trust me, even your sweetest and most mild-mannered loved ones turn will into cutthroat competitors in this game. It will be way more exciting than scoring that TV on sale. That TV and many more will be on sale again in a week, anyway.

Wal-Mart and Best Buy hold no appeal for me, but Target is less than a mile from my house. Before a day of errands or shopping I enjoy making a list, and then throughout the day, I get a ridiculous amount of pleasure from crossing items off that list. So, this Thursday, I guarantee, I’ll definitely be making a list, but this one will only be to count my blessings.

The real truth is, after eating pie; my pants would be too tight to shop comfortably, anyway.

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving and a day full of blessings, however and wherever you are celebrating!

See you at the mall on Friday.