Of late I’ve morphed into the Christmas Lady at the MCC(Mennonite Central Committee) Thrift Store on Selkirk Avenue where I have been volunteering now for about five years. Inspired by the example of both my mother and mother-in-law who were volunteers in MCC stores in Steinbach, Manitoba and Leamington, Ontario for many years I decided to make that part of my retirement plan too. I started out working at the front counter of the store getting to know all the interesting people in the neighborhood who are regular visitors and the wonderful volunteers who operate the cash register and help clients find the items they are looking for. Then when the woman who took care of sorting and pricing books needed to take a leave of absence I replaced her for nearly a year. When she returned and my services were no longer needed as the ‘book lady’ I began working with a lively and interesting group of women from my church who volunteer at the Thrift Store once a week in the upstairs area, unpacking boxes and sorting and cleaning and pricing items. During my time with them I have become something of a Christmas specialist.
You simply would not believe the amount of Christmas stuff that arrives at the Thrift Store each week. I organize and sort it and clean it and price it. I usually fill up four boxes or so a week with wrapping paper and wreaths, tree lights and tablecloths, candles and creches and cookie cutters. Then the boxes are taken down into the basement of the Thrift Store to be stored till Christmas.
By summer that pile in the basement is HUGE! Many of the items donated to our store come from the homes of older folks who are downsizing because they are leaving their houses to move to personal care homes or assisted living facilities. It is incredible how much Christmas stuff one person or family can amass in a lifetime. It makes me determined not to add to my own Christmas cache even though many of the items I am sorting and pricing are so………. nice and I am tempted to buy them.
My experience at the Thrift Store has made me much more cautious and careful about buying anything new. It has taught me that we don’t need half the things we buy and most of the things we do need to buy can be purchased at a Thrift Store for less than half the price……….. including Christmas stuff.