Last Saturday, our family drove the one-hour jaunt up to Fredericksburg, one of the many little towns around here that we keep hearing we need to visit. There happened to be a Food and Wine Festival going on -- we didn't even know until we got there, but we didn't participate in that anyway.
We took a peek in an old, old Catholic church right by where we parked (I love looking inside old churches). We spent an hour or so at the Pioneer Museum -- well-kept, but similar to other such museums we've been to. Then we walked up and down main street seeing the sights . . . which were mainly people and shops.
Lots of shops. What's the word for the kind of shops I'm talking about? Maybe it's "specialty shops". Cute little stores packed to the ceiling with cute little things. There was a dog specialty shop we stopped at to see a million and one unnecessary and costly dog accessories. There was a Christmas shop where we saw five million and one beautiful and excessive Christmas decorations. Seven blocks or so of such places, lining both sides of the street. Plus all the German biergartens and chocolate shops.
It was a cute little town. I kept thinking how twenty years ago, I would have just eaten this up. I loved "specialty shops." I could have spent all day long looking at the items in these stores. I probably wouldn't have bought much, but I would have wanted to -- or I would have come away with ideas for things I wanted to try to make myself for cheaper.
Because I used to be a crafter, or at least fancy myself as one. I still have a stash of craft supplies in storage left over from those days, just in case I need something again. I loved the idea of making some cute little item to beautify my house with my personal touches. I often said I'd rather decorate my home with something I made that is of slightly lower quality but would have meaning to me, than with something fabulous that I just plunked down some money for.
There's probably a remnant of that sentiment still in me somewhere. But not much. Somewhere along the way, I lost the urge to make little things. Even more so, I lost the urge to HAVE little things sitting around my house looking pretty. As my mother was known to say, "It's just more to dust."
So, walking through these stores made me examine myself and my new set of values. I'd like to think there's something somewhat . . . I don't know . . . philosophical about this change in me. I looked at the stuff in there for sale and thought how astonishing these seven blocks would be to someone from a third world country. Or even to someone from this country a hundred and fifty years ago. My daughter is reading a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and looking through the Christmas store, I remembered the Christmases she described in her books -- getting one small toy item and a candy stick that they sucked a little bit every day for weeks to make it last. The Christmas feast that would hardly seem like a hearty meal for some of us. I don't remember her mentioning decorations at all.
Laura would have walked through this Christmas store with her jaw on her chest. The very idea that people could have as many Christmas decorations as they do and still walk through this place wanting even more.
When there are people not eating. When there are people dying of curable diseases. When there are children who can't read. I've just lost my appetite for more stuff in my life when there are so many uses for my money that could actually make an eternal difference in humanity.
But then again, maybe it's really only about not having more to dust.