25 November 2011

Top Five Friday: How I Found Peace (or Avoiding the Crowds on Black Friday)

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.  I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. 
~ George Bernard Shaw

One of the blessings of being back in a relatively small town is the downtown area.  Historic Fredericksburg is one of my all time favorite places to be, and I’m not just saying that as one of its proud Southern daughters.

Today is Black Friday.  A day when manners, already almost completely forgotten on a normal day, are completely thrown out and insanity and incivility rule.  Just as I sat down to write this, I heard on the news about a woman in California who maced other shoppers just so she could get the last Xbox or some such nonsense.  I would like to think this is something that only happens somewhere else, but several years ago I witnessed two grown women, well into their 40s, having a screaming match ~ complete with hair pulling and punching ~ over some item, now long forgotten.  It was my first and last foray into the hell known as Black Friday.

This year, since I was home, I opted instead to support local shop owners and producers.  What a contrast to the big, noisy chain stores!  Shopping was actually pleasant and was an almost centering experience.  I talked and joked with each store owner, clerk, and customer that I met.  The gifts I bought were unique and special and chosen with care.  More importantly, I planted a seed of kindness and generosity at each store that I hope will grow into a life-long relationship and maybe, if we’re both lucky, friendship.

If you are ever in the area and would like to experience warm Southern hospitality while you shop, check out my top five favorite stores and boutiques and all the other great places in and around Historic Fredericksburg.

Vera Bradley.  Need I say more?  You will also love the almost two story Christmas tree decorated with beautiful ornaments, including some Christopher Radko.  Upstairs you’ll find some of the most luscious linens ever to grace your table ~ holiday or otherwise! 

Books. Books. And more books.  Can you tell I love books?  A couple of friends on my nice list are avid bibliophiles.  So shopping for them was a cinch here.  Especially since they especially like old, out of print, or rare books.  Riverby’s is a book lover’s haven, with three stories and couches in different nooks and crannies where you can settle down with your favorite Jane Austen or Walt Whitman.  Of note: check out the Art and Civil War sections.

This has always been my go-to shop for gifts for my home chef and foodie friends.  Which sometimes includes “Merry Christmas to me!”  Ah well.  Today I bought a few stocking stuffers for my close “Captivating” girlfriends, and also a metal food mold ~ think sushi shape, and a tiny silver spoon just for fun.  They also have ornaments, tablecloths and unique gifts in the home section.  Always artfully decorated at this most wonderful time of the year.

This home store was new to me and I fell in love with it.  It was like stepping into the parlour in an old French chateau.  The wall colour is a muted blue ~ almost a pale, pale Wedgewood. I ended up purchasing twelve adorable little pear candles to use a place holders for an elegant dinner.

Another new to me store.  I got to meet Tanya and her watercolours are beautiful.  I bought a couple of original pieces depicting fall scenes in Fredericksburg and the Shenandoah Valley.  With the right frame, it will be perfect for my friend who moved away from all her family and friends in Virginia ~ a little piece of home on her wall.

There are lots more stores I could tell you about, but this is Top Five Friday after all!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

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