I just made a thrilling discovery: Libraries lend out magazines.
If you already knew that, let me have my moment.
Because, as it turns out, it was only a moment.
Over the past three years, for a variety of reasons, I’ve let all the subscriptions to my favorite magazines, including the one I write for, expire. I’ve missed them desperately. The trite, easy-to-read lists. The tips for living a good life. Articles on subjects I never knew I needed to worry about.
So, with this discovery I went a little wild, checking out about a dozen magazines of all sorts, from Health, to O, to Real Simple, to Self, to Martha Stewart’s Living. I even snagged a copy of Runner’s with the post holiday rear sag in mind.
This being November, as I should have expected, nearly every article was about the upcoming holidays: holiday cooking, holiday decorating, holiday dressing, and holiday parties.
It was fun.
For about one minute.
Full color spread after full color spread were of tables covered with gorgeous red and orange linens and topped with fat, buttery turkeys made with ingredients I’ve never heard of. Crystal bowls were heaped, not with the humble mashed potato like they are on my holiday table, but with sides like Brussels sprouts sizzled with bacon and leeks, brown sugar-glazed carrots, and sausage stuffings. All of these used fancy ingredients I suspect I could neither find nor afford, even if I could summon the will to procure them.
Despite the publisher’s attempt to infuse me with ‘thankfulness,’ such picture-perfect menus,tables, and decorations did anything but.
Especially when I saw the clothing I was supposed to buy to be properly clad for upcoming festivities. The ‘budget’ skirt that was a mere $89. The darling outfit totaling a mere $600 once you added in the Sherpa boots and the ‘Range Rover of hosiery,’ Wolford tights, at a mere $57 per pair.
Four magazines into it, I felt myself getting as fussy as a ten-year-old girl drooling over the latest American Doll catalog. My home, my menu, my wardrobe, which prior to the magazine deluge had seemed adequate enough, made me feel like Ma Ingalls, trying to pull a holiday together with a skein of red yarn and three wagon wheels.
So, yesterday I took all those silly magazines back to the library for some other poor woman to feel bad over. After a good pout and a long night’s sleep I woke today to one of those brilliant indigo autumn skies God gives to Kansans to apologize for summer.
Overnight, my neighbor’s trees had turned into a masterpiece of Yukon golds, auburns, and fire engine reds. For once, there was no wind. My youngest begged to build a fire in the fireplace and, even though it was only nine in the a.m., it was too nippy to say no. We spent the day reading in our sweaters and made potato soup and pumpkin bread for dinner. We sat, the seven of us, at our long table lit by last year’s candles, with nary a place mat or French food in sight. And there we ate the labor of our hands to the tune, not of some ‘suggested holiday play list,’ but of giggles and requests to pass the salt. Sweet, unPhotoshopped faces of the ones I love best surrounded me, their outfits neither procured from the L.L. Bean catalog, nor, I suspect, recently washed.
That is what I’m thankful for.
So, call me provincial. Call me frumpy. Call me backwards or outdated or slackerly. But you can keep those silly tights, you ridiculous magazines. Keep your fig chuntneys and your gingered orange peels. Keep your faux-furred hats and your tulle jackets.
Because, this holiday season, I don’t want your issues.