We are thick into birthday season in our family, a time in which summertime Scout will mourn as Pippin and Roo celebrate their Halloweeny birthdays, I fall around Thanksgiving, and J is fêted on Christmas Eve. And it’s got me thinking about buying for life.
It started, I think, with a wool blanket. I read about a mill in Prince Edward Island (where my Anne-girls at?) that makes wool blankets to last a lifetime, and, freezing through New England winters in grad school, I asked for one for my birthday.
I was in my mid-twenties and beginning to get boring. And when we finally started to make a real income, I got boringer still. After all, I can usually buy myself a pair of cheap rain boots or the new book I’ve been eyeing. So what I want as gifts are things that will last.
For me, those gifts mostly shake out into two categories: wool and shoes. There is nothing cozier than a sturdy wool sweater, and though it breaks my heart to spend $20 for a pair of wool socks, those socks are so astronomically superior to my usual fare that I try to get other people to buy them for me. (I’m in good company: “’One can never have enough socks,’ said Dumbledore. ‘Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.’”) And my feet are freakish, as we’ve discussed — even after three pregnancies, they’re still obstinately narrow. (For awhile this time I thought they might have expanded, but it turned out to be just a broken toe.) When I can find shoes that don’t look positively orthopedic, they’re usually pricey but going to last for years to come, so that’s something I spring for with birthday money, too.
As a reflexively cheap person, it can be hard to pull the trigger on purchases that will last but cost more upfront, but slowly, I think I’m getting better at it. When J recently announced we needed another bookcase (perpetual problem in these parts), I suggested we go with a real wood shelf, even if we have to finish it ourselves.
What sort of buy-it-for-life items are you eyeing this Christmas? Where are your priorities on quality? Or does it all seem like consumerist nonsense to you?