Nov 13, 201209:10 AM
The Lighter Side
Exploring the humor and peculiarities of the Big Easy
Support Your Local Christmas Spirit
So Halloween is over and Christmas is here! What about Thanksgiving, you say? Well, we increasingly skip over that part. Who wants to be thankful for all that we have and enjoy the little things ("Zombieland" rule no. 32) when there's holiday shopping to be done!
I actually have this friend who every year says, "I'm really going to get in the Christmas spirit this year." And he's not 10, he's in his late twenties. And I usually kind of laugh because I've become such a cynical grinch the past few years, but he's right. It's fun to get into the Christmas spirit. To enjoy the little things. But you're not enjoying the little things when you're running up and down aisles trying to figure out what to get your mom at the last second because she's so hard to buy for (I usually end up getting her a blanket because that seems to be the only thing I buy her that she actually uses ... but the woman now has about 20 different soft blankets because my brother started copying off of me).
Seriously, the holiday grinchiness that seems to have taken ahold of me the past few seasons started up again just a few weeks ago, when it wasn't even Halloween yet. I went to Lowe's (never stop improving!) to look for some paint and stumbled upon their seasonal display. A little part of me jumped for joy and was like YAY CHRISTMASTIME, but upon further inspection realized that most of the garish crap they were selling was marked-up cheap plastic that was probably thrown together in five seconds in an overseas factory.
This should not be Christmas. I want my holiday decorations to mean something. I remember when I was a kid, my mom would paint beautiful Christmas cottages, angels, santas and reindeer in her ceramics classes. Our house would be filled with this stuff. Every ornament on our tree contained some kind of memory or some little doo-dad my brother or I made in school. We also had decorations that my grandmother had spent months sewing. It was like they actually paid attention to detail.
Well, why pay attention to detail anymore when you can just buy it for cheap in the seasonal aisle? Who cares if it crumbles or breaks ... you can just buy it all over again next year!
Well, not for me this year. I'm done with the sensory overload of department stores during the holidays. I'm done with the crowds and rushing around ... done with the feeling of "getting it all overwith".
I had a moment of clarity last week while attending the Mirliton Festival (where they had artisanal cotton candy, which was interesting ... and amazing) and while I was looking through all the arts & crafts tents and set-ups, I saw this cute ornament (pictured below) and thought, "I know some people who would LOVE this".
The artist can be found here.
I decided right then and there that this Christmas would be different this year. I was not going to go on a "Black Friday" spending spree or spend time in malls this holiday season. After Thanksgiving, I'm not going anywhere near a Walmart unless it's after 10 p.m. and I really need a diet-pop fix. I made a pact to not buy any Christmas gifts from "The Man".
Instead I'm going to either make presents myself or buy gifts from artists and craftspeople, (very) small businesses or "mom & pop" shops.
Supporting these people gives you the "Christmas spirit double whammy." First, you give something really cool and special to a loved one that they will cherish forever. And second, you're supporting an artist or small businessperson, giving them money directly, supporting the local economy and therefore increasing your good karma (probably) and reducing your carbon footprint by not buying things that are manufactured on the other side of the world. It's a win win!
And New Orleans is a perfect place for this. There are artists and craftspeople everywhere. There are cute little boutique shops everywhere. And there are also art fairs everywhere.
I've made a nice list of art fairs between now and Christmas, where I can just ride my bike, enjoy the day looking at some cool stuff, maybe have a drink and some awesome food to top it off. This makes Christmas shopping sound downright pleasant.
Frenchmen Art Market. Thursdays - Sundays. 7 p.m. - 1 a.m. This is a great night market with a wide variety of beautiful arts and crafts. It also happens to be on Frenchmen St, so grab a beer in a go-cup and have some fun exploring.
Arts Market of New Orleans (at Palmer Park). Last Saturday of every month. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. According to the website, next month's market happens Dec. 15 and 16.
New Orleans Fringe Festival Trunk Show. In addition to the amazing shows that will be happening all next weekend, there will also be a place for artists to sell their wares on Dauphine and Press streets on Saturday, Nov. 17, from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
The Freret Market. First Saturday of every month, and they're having a "festivus" market called Freretstivus. Ha! This is happening on Dec. 8. It sounds like a ton of fun.
Piety Street Market. This market is one of my favorites since I can just walk down the street. They'll be having one on Dec. 8 and 15 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
If I've missed any great art fairs happening around town between now and Christmas, please let me know in the comments, as well as any great small New Orleans business you think is worth checking out for holiday gifts. Thanks!