My daughter Alea came up to me after RSVPing for a birthday celebration next week. The party is for her very best friend and she wanted to make plans about the gifting process. Anyone who knows Alea knows that she is a planner, takes most things into consideration and while she is at it, will help you to organize your life as well. This could be an annoying feature to her personality but somehow, she nails it in such a way that makes you want to follow her lead; it is, no matter how you look at it, the sensible thing to do. This time was no exception, however, she did pose me with a question that made me pause with furrowed brow.
She wanted to shop for said friend at the thrift store. Now a few facts would be helpful here as you ponder with me:
1. Alea loves to thrift shop. Most times she gets her own cart, peruses the isles with reckless abandon and finds herself some sweet (as she says) pieces. Joy emanates from her. And, getting a bargain makes it even sweeter. She totally gets that she can purchase way more, for way less. She is quite the shopper. She never fails to spot a "so me" item on the rack and insists that I give these things a try and truth be told she is never far off. Sometimes the sizes don't work or she picks something that doesn't suit my color scheme, but all in all, she is an asset in the shopping department.
2. OK, back to the birthday situation. Alea attends school and has many friends from New Albany (a suburb of Columbus). It is fair to say that my kids witness true wealth when they go to visit their friends from school. On the whole, they have not come home whining about what other kid's have and what we are lacking (Lord knows I am grateful for that). I also realize that wealth is a relative concept here. It is not my desire to stereotype here. I am only recognizing that there is most definitely a difference in economic class.
3. Alea would like nothing better than to share her joy of thrift shopping with her friend. She argued sensibly that her friend likes the very jeans she was donning and THEY were from the thrift store. I can follow her logic her after all, I purchase most of my clothes from the thrift store.
4. When Alea told her friend where she purchased these fine jeans she did not know what a thrift store was-- the concept was totally out of the realm of her experience.
So, I explained to Alea, under most circumstances, you don't give someone a birthday gift that is considered used, unless it is a special item from your own collection that you want to share, like a family heirloom......
In general, for a birthday celebration, you make a purchase from a traditional store or make something that is a gift from your heart.
I must admit, I have conflicting values here and a limited ability to explain this dilemma within. I would not have thought it would be hard for me to express the why behind here-- but in truth, I believe any gift given from the heart is of value-- no matter where it is purchased.
One year my sister DeeDee asked for clothing for her birthday since she was giving up her deaf interpreting gig (you mostly wear black or other plain dark colors). I asked her if she minded me shopping at the thrift store for her because I could do some real damage that way. She said she did not mind. It was so fun! I felt free to buy a few items that may be considered absolute finds or may be considered clunkers. I did not feel like I bought the farm. I know for a fact that I picked out some jeans that she wore until they became thread bare-- jeans that she probably would not have picked out for herself.
I suppose I am worried that a gift from the thrift store may appear cheap or may be unappreciated in the circles of New Albany or worse, us becoming labelled as the poor family, when really, the whole idea came from the joy of the hunt.
I did offer Alea the option to invite her friend on a shopping spree at the thrift store to share in the experience. Of course, I am about to work my last day, heading into the land of layoff, so calling it a spree may be a bit misleading. The girls may have to make selections, keep within a budget and make hard decisions about what to purchase and what to leave behind. But, even that is a wonderful lesson in life (may even make those items purchased feel more special).
Anyway, I am curious to how others may see this opportunity.