Sunday, December 28, 2008

My day of simple living

All weekend long the after-Christmas sales have been calling. My daughter kind of needs some pants to go with the seven shirts she got from the grandparents this Christmas. My son kind of needs an extra pair of waterproof gloves to replace the pair he bit a hole through. I kind of need some new clothes for the trip we've planned this winter. And, of course, we could kind of use some half-off wrapping paper and lights to store in the basement for a year.

I'm proud to say that I ignored the siren's call of the mall.

Well, I kind of ignored it. On Saturday, my mother-in-law, my daughter and I had our annual "girl's lunch" at The Cheesecake Factory and then we walked through the new American Girl store near the Natick Mall, er Collection. And despite all the headlines about the 2008 recession (no links; just google it and you'll get more than 24 million hits), these places were hopping. Standing room only at Cheesecake Factory, people knocking into each other at American Girl. Could there be two better icons of gluttony? I mean, a Cheesecake Factory menu now has more pages than most print newspapers. American Girl's least expensive dolls go for $90. And, when I didn't think I could be any more outraged, I found a line 12-deep at the American Girl Salon. Mind you, this was a line for the dolls to get their hair done! Yes, there were five "stylists" working fast and furiously to braid the fake hair of the fake dolls (and, since you asked, it's $10-$20 for the privilege).

This is gross excess at its best. In my little act of defiance or whatever, I scrambled out of the store. Okay, with the traffic, it was more of a crawl than a scramble, but still...

(On the bright side, my 4-year old daughter was great. As entralled as she was with the American Girl hair salon, she didn't ask for a thing. And she knows the dolls cost a hundred dollars because I've told her. )

So it was on Saturday I decided that we don't need anything else. I'm not sure that I'm ready to subscribe to one of the more than 100 blogs on living simply, but this one decision was incredibly liberating. Today, instead of heading to the mall on this unseasonably warm December Sunday, I went for a long walk. And on that walk, I encountered two deer standing on the lawn of a nearby house. Channeling my inner Dr. Doolittle, I talked to them. Out loud, but just to remind them not to go into the road. Later, my son and I went for a rip-roaring bike ride through the puddles the melted snow made. He said it was the best bike ride ever. Finally, after dark, the family piled into the minivan and drove to see the lights that our neighbors put up. To our delight, we encountered another family of deer who, no doubt, didn't care that if they meandered down the road a just a few miles, they could get a sweater 1/2 off at Macy's.

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