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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cheap thrill


Being that it is only 36 days, 16 hours and 40-some minutes until Christmas, we are in the middle of what I can only (poorly) describe as "catalog heaven."

I run to the mailbox daily, hoping to reach in and pull out a pile of colorful, slick-paged, disposable books, each offering hundreds of items I don't need and likely won't buy, but also each offering 10 to 15 minutes of escape.

The pile of catalogs moves from the mailbox to the kitchen counter where I sort through them, tossing the ones that offer only clothing (I could care less -- which is probably quite evident in my wardrobe.) Of the ones that remain, on a rare occasion I might look at one or two right way, standing at the counter.

But more often than not, I stack them up and wait until I can settle into the comfy red chair in the family room, the leather ottoman under my feet. With a Diet Coke at my side, I take a deep breath and open the first one. This is the ultimate in couch potato window shopping.

I go through each catalog once at first, assigning them into piles of "toss" and "look at again." The REALLY good ones -- Hearthsong, Shaker Workshops, Metropolitan Museum of Art -- I might thumb through three or four times. The others in the "look at again" pile might get one more go-thru.

This totally flies in the face of the professional organizers' mantra "touch everything only once." Which might explain a lot about the current state of my home (anyone want to nominate me for Oprah's latest organizational intervention?).

But in the category of cheap thrills, my love affair with catalogs ranks high.

* I think about who in my life would like what product on the page -- Mike would love the $200 Lego Death Star from the Lego catalog. Not that he's going to get it.

* I envision being able to open the Hammacher Schlemmer book and order the $3,000 authentic Pac-Man arcade game.

* I dive into the FAO Schwarz catalog, forwarded annually by Mike's grandmother who feeds my catalog obsession by saving me all the cool ones she gets, and wonder who would spend $400 on the ZinoTek Foam Building Set, even if they could afford it.

* I make note of the titles of interesting books and check to see if I can get them cheaper at

* I take extra time with those catalogs that only arrive at this time of year -- What on Earth (totally cool and has nothing to do with being green!), MetKids, In the Company of Dogs (we don't even have a dog, but I love this one) -- and equally enjoy the old favorites -- Garnet Hill, Catholic Child, Current and Abbey Press.

It's my little ritual that I do once or twice a week from mid-October 'til Christmas. And then, on December 26th, the flood of catalogs in my mailbox slows to a trickle. I don't really miss it. I know that come the next October it will be back again and I'll be ready.


Eternal Lizdom said...

Ooooo! I love holiday catalogs, too!! We got our "Where On Earth" catalog last week and I love it!! I tend to make a pile on the bathroom counter... I love to flip through a catalog when I'm peeing, you know. LOL! Truth is, that is the only time I get to really peruse any kind of reading material!

Sharon said...

OK, so how much of your shopping is already done?

I think the catalog I like browsing the most is Pottery Barn. But 9.9 times out of 10, I wouldn't spend that much money on something.

Annie said...

I, too, love the catalogs! My favorite is also Pottery Barn. Lots of inspiration from that one, but I never order from them! :)

You have an award waiting for you!