Not having cut my teeth in the professional retail world, but rather coming to it later after my own patterns as a consumer were settled, it’s always been difficult for me to beat the drum of holiday consumerism for The Urban Grape. TJ and I have tried to strike a balance between acknowledging that a huge portion of our business takes place in November and December, and believing that the holiday season means so much more than purchasing. For example, we do a (almost) daily gift guide, but we completely ignore Black Friday, believing that the day after Thanksgiving is meant for sweatpants, leftovers and movies. We hope to bring to our customers, and to ourselves, a sense of balance through this frenetic season. The thing that brings us the most happiness is that the products we’re selling so much of in these months are mostly used to bring people together at festive dinners and parties, and through gift-giving.
I feel like we had struck a very good balance until last Friday when I went to post our latest gift idea – Nierpoort Colheita 1998 Vintage Tawny Port – on to Twitter. After only a few seconds on the site, scrolling through my Twitter roll, I read the news that has deeply affected our country – the shootings in Newtown. From that moment, and continuing to now, posting anything related to work is almost painful and irrelevant feeling. Who cares, who really cares, that we suggest Nierpoort for your stocking? Who can even bear to put their presents under the tree this year, knowing that 20 children will not be opening their presents? How do we move forward with hearts so broken and sad, in what is supposed to be the most magical time of the year?
All I’ve really been able to do this weekend is stare at our six year old and feel such overwhelming relief that he is here with us. Six is an awe-inspiring age. He is just starting to realize he has a future and choices in his life. The realization is empowering, and he’s becoming more independent every day. He’s feeling the jitters of his first crush, and the exhilaration of doing math problems in his head. He’s discovered drawing and he’s endlessly entertained by his own imagination.There are moments where he gives me a look, or when I catch him in deep contemplation, and I can see the man that he will be. Just as quickly, he is back to being six.
Even through this new-found independence, he’ll arrive some mornings, silently padding up the stairs in his footie pajamas and clutching his lovies, to crawl wordlessly into our bed. He’s told me that growing up is so hard, and that sometimes he wishes he could stay little so that he can still ask for cuddles whenever he wants them. He’s on the cusp of his whole life, but he still has his toes in babyhood. That’s all I can think of when I think of those twenty 6 and 7 year olds in Newtown.
So in this, the season of gifts, I can’t think of anything to put on the gift guide today except for hope. Hope for Newtown, hope for the children who survived, hope for the future of our two sons, and hope for all of our nation’s children. I hope that as we decorate our trees and wrap our presents, that we’ll remember that it’s not whether or not we’ve found the perfect gift, it’s whether or not we’ve told the person we’re giving it to that we love them. If you give someone a bottle of wine from The Urban Grape, I hope you’ll make a memory by staying to drink it with them. That’s what this season should really be about.