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The pressure to find the right gift, to give the huge parties, to be sure I had the latest brand of children's shoe is over.

It was a shock the first time I entered my favorite store and discovered that there was nothing there I wanted to buy. How could that be? I had been lovingly stockpiling everything from curtains to champagne goblets for years, to be used for my home or family. Each purchase seemed to guarantee that life would be better, more exciting, when something new came through the door. During the years when I traveled widely on business I shipped home handmade salad bowls from Vermont, goblets from posh New York stores and fabric in bags from Paris. I loved the search for the perfect thing, something that would hopefully elicit an "I LOVE this!" exclamation from the recipient, or be used with pride for our parties. Each purchase was an addition to my life, an opportunity to try something new or bring happiness to others.

As the years passed, we bought the latest baby stroller, then backpacks, athletic gear and tech toys to assure our family that they too, would fit in with their friends. Our homes filled. But suddenly, it seemed, it had ended. The people I had loved to buy gifts for, often starting a year before their birthday or the holidays, were no longer part of my life, either passed away or moved on. The ones who remained only wanted gift cards tucked into an envelope, not a special something that I had chosen just for them. There was no reason to spend hours combing through catalogs or stores. It was something of a relief, I realized, and certainly easier on the budget. But the objects remained. We continued to use our wine goblets and dessert bowls until the parties, too, stopped.

The boxes of goblets now sit in a closet and will never be used here at another large party. These days, getting together with friends is preferred one-on-one for a good talk over a latte, not the big annual celebrations we held for years. Children don't want the crystal dessert bowls nor the furniture made for a cozier time instead of the current minimalist one. That isn't surprising, since when we were young my generation was repelled by the bone china, silver teapots and embroidered pillowcases of our parents. We wanted dark "Mediterranean" furniture suites, heavy pottery (preferably from Pottery Barn) and shag carpets when we were starting our own homes, which then proudly and safely resembled one another. We needed to feel we were creating a new way of living, even if it was much like the old except for the change of objects around us. Each new generation feels the same, it seems.

This is now a time to release, to find freedom in letting go, however. The pressure to find the right gift, to give the huge parties, to be sure I had the latest brand of children's shoe is over. The days of creating a home and family and keeping everything running smoothly for all are in the past. In their place are interesting new people, places and a chance to learn about all the things there had never been time for. This doesn't call for "stuff" anymore, so I still buy the necessities at my favorite store but delight in pleasing myself, not stocking up to take care of the world.

Soon someone new can enjoy the wine goblets and crystal dessert dishes when they arrive in a new home, once more useful and enjoyed by those who will cherish them. I send them on their way with fond memories and appreciation for having had them be part of my life.

Peggy Keonjian is a member of the Jottings Group of the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.


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