For the eighth time in that many years, I tore into my house last week, removing everything from the walls, all the little and not-so-little stuff lying around, in an attempt to turn my house into a little shop for two days. I figure it is a good excuse to clean all those behind-the-scene places that need attention at least once a year.
I do this because a small group of artists display their wares at my house to kick off the Christmas season. We have pottery, jewelry, all sorts of wood items, notecards and books by local authors. We call our gig, which opens on Friday afternoon and early evening and runs through Saturday, Just in Time, and over the years we’ve developed a loyal following.
This year I came across a big bookcase with a free sign on it in the neighborhood, hauled it home, painted it and stacked it with books by a dozen or so local authors. I placed it near a comfy couch and wrote little notes about the books—my lame attempt at marketing. To my way of thinking, there’s no better Christmas gift than a book.
Half the fun of this event is hanging out in the kitchen with the artists, listening as they visit with each other and with the customers who grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and cookies or cheese and crackers as they shop. A timely skiff of snow showed on Friday afternoon which helped to set the mood.
I make homemade soup and bread for the artists and share it with the occasional customer who arrives hungry. It‘s the epitome of “shopping locally” and I think shoppers like the idea of buying from people they can chat with. Some of them hang around and talk for quite a long time before they even begin to shop.
It takes me a while to gut my house to make room for the art, but the process of turning it back to normal is accomplished in about an hour, with all hands carrying plants, photos and paintings, tables and chairs back to where they belong.
Before six p.m. I was ready for the final event of the day—an “athletes’ dinner.” A couple I know who are avid swimmers invited some amazing athletes to spend the evening together. I sat next Diane who has completed 17 Ironman triathlons and across the table from Sarah who just swam 80 miles across Lake Powell in 56 hours—with no wet suit. She’s young and cute and humble as can be and she’d never tell you that she holds the record for the longest continuous cold water swim ever, anywhere! She’s done the English Channel in 11 hours and said she felt good enough to swim back to the UK. I thought I was tired when I set out for the evening, but the crowd was so animated and fun that I perked right up.
A good way to start the holiday season!