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Cheap Chic
January, 2010 - Issue #63
Now that holiday shopping has started in earnest, we're on a mission. We're like drug-sniffing dogs, an elite pack of bargain hunters who leave no store unturned on hot pursuit of red tags, slash marks, percentage signs and clearance sections.

Here's a tip from one bloodhound to another: Don't bother with the Sunday newspaper circulars unless you're looking for a really big TV.

This season, the best deals are on the best stuff. And the best of everything is rarely found in a store that sells both drop cloths and diamond-drop earrings.

Giving greatly doesn't mean giving exorbitantly. It does mean avoiding disposable, generic stuff that's landfill bound sooner rather than later. Give thoughtfully, practically and with an eye for what lasts.

Today, I am wearing my grandmother's sweater, circa 1970. My toddler is playing with wooden blocks older than I am. Grandma, decades later, could still recount where she acquired these now-heirloom items, and even - in the case of the sweater - who sold it to her.

A child of the Depression, she was always on the lookout for a deal. But, she'd remind anyone who'd listen, "It doesn't matter how cheap it is; if you'll have to buy a new one next year because it's fallen apart, forget about it."

Grandma's gone now, but her things are still here, still used, still treasured. I look around my home, in my closets, and - most prominently - under our Christmas tree. Most things I see were purchased in my home town of Santa Clarita. They are good things, many of them made here, in the country I love. Like Grandma, I can tell you the name of the neighbor who sold these great things to me.

Great things last and become part of your story. These are the shoes I wore when he proposed. That is the scarf my son wrapped around my pregnant tummy. This was my Mom's favorite serving dish.

The memories tied to these things are a gift in themselves. This season, I hope you give and receive greatly.
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