Since my birthday and Christmas are both approaching next month, I find myself thinking on these things.
Because of the economy, my first Christmas impulse was to find out what intensely practical things -- although they might be quite inexpensive (Woolite for black clothes is an example) -- people wanted and give a Great Depression Christmas party. But I'll probably give gift certificates. I don't want to give any one anything they don't really need and want, so gift certificates or cash it is, it appears. What's the conventional wisdom? A "present" is something you have to give on an occasion and it's something YOU want to give that the recipient may or may not want. A "gift," however, is something the recipient wants and has already chosen and you just get it for them. In these hard economic times, it seems there's no need for presents. Gifts are what's needed.
One of my friends asked what I wanted for my birthday and that's not something that's easy to answer. I told her "services" -- meaning I'd rather have more dance classes paid for, pedicures, or massage. But it made me start to think about material possessions and what I have finally managed to acquire in my middle age. Most of the things I have that I wanted I had wanted since I was fourteen or so. And I've only finally had the means to get some of them over the last couple of years.
Some Things I Want or Wanted, A Checklist
1. A couch I chose myself, that didn't come from Goodwill. Check: at age 45.
2. A nice "Turkish" carpet. Check: at age 50 or so. And a very small one at that.
3. An antique armoire. Check: three of them at last count, in my 30's and the last one three years ago.
4. A Victrola. Check: at 40.
5. A good camera. Check: at 24, after a year of lay-away. And this year, a good digital camera.
6. Power tools. Check: a drill, a sander and a Dremel over the last decade.
7. A samovar. Check: at age 44.
8. An accordion. Check: at age 35, thanks to my second husband.
9. A bezel-set, diamond solitaire necklace in white gold. Check: this summer, thanks to me.
10. High quality pearl earrings and graduated pearl necklace, short length. No. Do not have $4K and have not won the lottery. And will not inherit them.
11. Missoni towels. Check: at 50.
12. A Waterman pen. Check: at 47, because of a small bequest when my grandmother died. Lapis blue.
13. Souleiado bedding. Check: at 53.
14. A Louis Vuitton wallet. Check: at 54. Still would like the vintage steamer trunk to match it, but that won't be happening in this lifetime. Hatbox for $2,500 is, I think, my only hope if I win the lottery.
15. A real Hermès scarf, purchased at the original Paris store. Check: last month. The others I ordered from them on-line, but all this year. Before that I bought (shh!) copies when I was in Europe.
16. Shalimar from the Guerlain Champs-Elysèes store. Check: when I was 45 the first time.
17. Kelly bag. No. And it won't happen in this lifetime. However, I do have a very nice alligator copy purchased when I was 40 that will just have to do. And even the copy is probably going to hold up the rest of my life!
18. Antique French opera glasses. Well, kind of. Purchased when I was 50 off e-bay. Mother-of-pearl. But the optics could be way better. Will have to try again. Cobalt blue enamel next time.
19. Duchampian French wine bottle drying rack. Check: this summer.
20. Jaeger-Lecoultre Reverso watch from the 1930's. Do not have $11K or more to spend on it. Will not happen in this lifetime.
21. Repetto Brigitte Bardot black calf ballet flats. Check: at 53.
22. Liberty of London Ianthe handkerchiefs, lingerie drawer fittings, etc. Check: in London at the flagship store when I was 50.
Bottom line: it looks like there's really nothing left I want in the entire world that doesn't cost upwards of 4 Grand. My desires are so simple, my needs are few. (Smile.)
Wait! If those nuns who sewed Rebecca de Winter's lingerie are still making it, maybe I want a teddy out of handkerchief linen or peach-colored charmeuse.
What an idle, ridiculous fantasy -- luxury goods -- to have when everyone's broke and the economy is in this sorry state. But it makes me feel better. Like watching a Fred and Ginger movie must have done back in those days.