The Value of Foresight

Yes, it’s true. Guilty as charged. I dunnit. But I’d like to point out a few extenuating circumstances before you throw the book at me. Or even the banana box.

If you have not visited the A.C. (Admirable Collection) McClurg Bookstore in the lobby of the Newberry, you may not be aware that there are two small carts just outside with Book Fair selections on them. Yes, because some people ask, yes, they are for sale. They are not part of the 125 exhibit, proud as the place may be of the Book Fair. Things that might have immediate appeal to passersthrough (you wouldn’t just pass BY) or nice, shiny books that are too hard to sort wind up here with entirely reasonable prices on them.

And I have to confess that I have, indeed, started putting out the Christmas books,

I’ve heard all the arguments. Christmas lasts too long. We celebrate by buying and selling things, and that’s just wrong. We concentrate on the tawdry and shiny instead of concentrating on the values of the season.

And I have played my own part in putting around some of the responses. That business of Christmas being overly commercial is just a ploy someone thought up to make money. And those of us who like tawdry and shiny deserve a holiday as much as anybody else.

But this business of putting the books on the carts has nothing to do with that. I am, in fact, HELPING you look into your heart and prepare that warm family Christmas that haunts your inner child.

If you are planning to decorate the house with lovely Christmas atmosphere, you’ll need to buy those how-to books NOW. You know very well you’ve misplaced the glitter and the styrofoam snowballs since last year, and you are completely out of tracing paper to duplicate those patterns for the doorknob snowmen. You need to buy the patterns and read the list of bits and pieces you require, so you aren’t one of the crowd trying to buy red flannel and cotton to make those sock Santas on December 24. And if you’re looking at some of those vintage retro craft books, vintage retro being a new phrase meaning “obsolete”, you’ll need to start hunting a source for pipe cleaners and matchboxes.

Buy the Christmas carol books now so you can brush up on the tune and the lyrics. That way when you’re caroling for the sick, your High C won’t leave them feeling sicker. (Hey, Santa! Notice I didn’t make the joke about C-sick?) Buy your Dickens and your Clement C. Moore now, so you can remember what order the reindeer and the ghosts come in.

And cookbooks! Better buy them now, oatmeal puff. A Christmas Recipe which does not contain two ingredients you’ve never heard of and one piece of kitchen equipment you don’t own is not true to our heritage. If you buy the cookbook now, you can start stocking up on the cardamom and allspice or, better, start to sound out these recipes on their intended audience. Better to get an idea now than to collect the ingredients, go through the baking, and only then learn that your nearest and dearest are left cold by Eggplant Snickerdoodles.

All it takes is a little planning, as I always mutter to myself in Wal-Mart on Christmas Eve. If with our little carts we can make your days more merry and bright, we will have not put them there in vain. (As long as you pay for the books and don’t just copy out the recipes. There’s something in that commercialism, too.)

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