When it comes to thrift shoppin’, Macklemore is a mere rookie compared to my mom.
Mom can spend hours in thrift shops. I’m not mocking her; in a well-stocked thrift shop, I can do the same thing. I’ve been the beneficiary of mom’s many trips to these places and, in turn, she, my sister and my brothers have unwrapped gifts I picked up, certain they’d love the items as much as I did when I spotted them.
As a child of the Depression, and dirt poor even after that, my mom developed a fine eye for the good deal and for seeing the treasure in trash. When my mom was a teenager, she and her girlfriends started a club called the Penny Pinchers. They sang a club song with these lyrics:
Penny Pinchers, pinch them all,
What do you think you’ll have next fall?
Twice as much as a penny or two,
So pinch your pennies like the Penny Pinchers do!
Personally, I’m relieved that mom’s favorite places to shop are second hand stores. Because my mom doesn’t drive, it’s up to my sister and me to take her shopping. I’m no fan of shopping in general and I loathe the mall. I dread trips to department stores or the hybrid grocery/everything else mega markets. Frankly, I try to avoid buying stuff from China, but it’s next-to-impossible at department stores.
But it’s not about me. If taking my mom to thrift shops makes her happy, I’m glad to oblige. She can’t easily spend that much money there. And it’s a treat to see what delights her at these places. We’ll wander off in different directions and then suddenly meet in an aisle, her cart filled with gew gaws, tchotchkes and paraphernalia. She’ll say, “Oh, good, I was hoping to find you. I want to ask your opinion of these items.”
And then, one by one, she’ll pick up each item and exclaim her pleasure in finding another long-sleeved white shirt for two dollars, a green glass bowl for a dollar and a half, another pair of scissors for ten cents, a colorful scarf, and several mysterious objects with no discernible use—for twenty-five cents. And a pretty box. My mom loves pretty boxes. She has an entire shelf in her bedroom filled with boxes, a lot of which held items that didn’t give her nearly as much delight as the box itself.
But finding clothes at a bargain is what thrills her the most. My mom is the perfect size for great deals on gorgeous clothes. Given that designers design for waifs and given that my mom weighs about 12 pounds, it’s inevitable that she’ll come away with couture that anyone would envy. It makes me jealous!
Yeah, Macklemore might have bagged himself a velour jumpsuit, some house slippers and a brown leather jacket, but my mom brings home these:
- Victor Costa black, waist length, dressy dinner jacket – $3.00
- Ann Taylor tweed, zip up jacket – $2.00
- Full-length fawn-colored cashmere coat – $1.50
- Puget Sound all weather coat – $.50 (yes, fifty cents)
And they’re all in perfect condition! Lucky her. I can’t squeeze my girth or beefy arms into any of her clothes. Bummer.
One of the things I like to do when I go thrift shopping is to find the most peculiar, the quirkiest or most hideous item in the store and then choose a friend that I can gift it to. At Christmas this year, I received one of the oddest, dearest gifts I’ve ever unwrapped. It wasn’t easy to wrap, either. Mom found this gift in a consignment shop. My sister was with her at the time and she tells me that mom went giddy multiplied by a factor of 10 when she saw this thing. She just had to buy it for me!
I get a laugh every time I look at it. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but this piece is going to find a comfortable, cherished spot in her newly remodeled bathroom. Yeah, it’s beyond kitsch, but it’s functional. And it symbolizes the joy that mom felt when she saw it.
Eat your heart out, Macklemore.