I’m convinced that we have found the reset button this season. I could not ignore the swelling of the gift guide but more than just volume, the grassroots creativity and innovation appearing in almost every category of business, is staggering. I am afraid that I am over-using the word inspire, but honestly, I can’t help it. I have been taking notes on perfect presents for months now. How can I possibly be content with a gift card for my son when I know that he would absolutely be thrilled with an excuse for a shopping expedition to the craft brewery in Sawyer?
While I tend to shy away from novelty foods like fruit and candy flavored vodkas, I have recently fallen for specialty boutiques that sell gourmet olive oils and aged vinegar. I can remember when the best option for vinegar and oil was a friend who had relatives in Italy who would pack and send products. It only seems like a million years ago that the best method for getting good and fresh tasting salad dressing would be to blend oil, vinegar and a packet of powder from Good Seasons and shake vigorously. Last night I dressed fresh olives and sweet peppers with garlic mushroom olive oil and smokehouse balsamic vinegar, which made the dish taste kind of like grilled beef, without the indigestion.
I have given the gift of transportation often enough to be somewhat of an expert, but I especially appreciated the discounted plane ticket I found via airfarewatchdog.com at Kayak this year to give myself a two-way trip to New Orleans back in September, so I could spend a week visiting my daughter and picking up on the many good deals that only a resident would know about, like half-price oysters and drinks during happy hour at the John Besh restaurant in the financial district. This Thanksgiving we are going to try the gift of zipcar to move our out-of-town relatives around the area.
I have become enamored of graphic novels lately. I had forgotten all about R. Crumb and Art Spiegelman and I never knew about Alison Bechdel or Nicole J. Georges because I got busy reading other things. This is a moment when I got a gift, when it dawned on me what I have lost or missed by not browsing in stores, in this case used bookstores, but it applies to just about everything. While I will never miss standing in line (unless there is something really special at the end of it), or trying on clothes under any circumstances, I will rethink taking the time to search through a pile of bargain jewelry, stare at a wall of an art museum gift store or wander aimlessly through a night market in New Orleans.
My wish for 2014 is that everyone reclaim the sense of wonder that we may have lost temporarily in the noise, in the chaos, in the struggle to make everything better right away. Otherwise in the haste of reviewing what you’ve accomplished this year, you may not realize what you’ve missed.
Associate Publisher and Editor
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