I love yard sales but when the weather turns wet, some of us yard sailors go through a dry period that is refreshed only by the appearance of holiday bazaars in the middle of November. When my British friends read about the U.S. and our stupid, interminable election brouhahas, or when they hear a quote from politician celebrities of little brains and even less empathy, I want to trot out the bazaars as evidence that some of us over here are still identifiably human and not part of a psycho cartoon family.
When I was a girl holiday bazaars were the provenance of older women in the church who made jelly and knitted things like toilet paper roll covers. You can still get the jelly but the quality of items to be found at holiday bazaars nowadays far exceeds the Victorian beauties who sit on the toilet tank stuffed with the spare roll of TP.
I invited Gwen, my neighbor who knows something about everything, to take in a few bazaars with me. She went down the list and nixed the ones she considered too commercial.
“I like the ones where the turquoise and white hand crocheted tea cozies are next to the fresh made brownies next to the bird houses made out of old license plates and half-rotted fences,” she said.
I, too, prefer the sales where there’s a St. Agnes Guild running the show, where the church ladies wear aprons and seem unflappable in their energy and good cheer. Every effort has been made to make you feel so welcome, you think you have just walked into Christmas dinner. Unlike your own family, you don’t know ahead of time who the irritating people are, but at a bazaar you can walk away, so really it’s the best of all worlds.
The ones I walk away from are the vendors who go in for bludgeoning people with their sales pitch, who follow my eyes and try to sell me anything I look at. If I touch something, to feel if the texture is as revolting as it looks, they are already whipping out their receipt book.
And then there are the chatty ones: “Hello how are you today these pendants were made from leaf fronds gathered under a full moon in the Palouse last summer let me show you on this county map the exact square mile of our camp-site and then I have the funniest story to tell you about my sister-in-law.”
A woman selling a scarf/shawl/evening wrap with a dozen ways to drape and tie, was still demonstrating its versatility as I waved $35 in front of her.
“You know, I am already buying this. You can stop selling it to me.”
Ok, I am glad to have gotten all that out of my system. Thank you for reading this far.
Here’s what I love about the bazaars, besides the St Agnes Guild ladies, and the way the word bazaar sounds like both brassiere and bizarre and allows for sophomoric humor when I’m in the mood for that, which I’m not just now because I can’t wait to get to the fudge:
1. Fudge –made on the stove-top not killed in the micro-wave. I recommend getting to the bazaars first thing because the fudge goes quickly.
2. The Christmas cut-out cookies in garish food colors. I would have starved for a week to have had purple food coloring when I was a kid.
3. Jam, honey, salsa, spiced nuts, jars of legumes and seasonings, ready to toss in a pot for soup; dip mixes. I don’t buy the dip mixes because I think they are over-priced, but I usually spend some time sampling them on pretzel sticks while I muse about how I might make them myself.
4. The stuff the kids make: bags of marshmallows labeled “Snowman poop;” candy cane reindeer with pipe cleaner antlers and tiny googly eyes, handmade Christmas cards encrusted with Elmer’s glue and every other word mis-spelled. I especially love the ones where the first three letters of “Merry” take up a third of the card and “Christmas” gets squashed into an inch on the right and “Happy New Year” runs down the edge, turns over and goes around the corner. It’s like the finger technique of some of my piano students.
5. Knitted afghans, baby booties, mittens, caps, scarves; quilts, rice or lavender bags to heat or freeze, unusual cards made from plant rubbings or origami; planters, games, and furniture crafted in someone’s woodshop; enough hand crafted jewelry to decorate every Christmas tree in the city.
And now here’s the real point of this blog: The Dibble House Holiday Craft Sale, hosted by Sue Gregor, who has more energy than a room full of pre-schoolers. 7301 Dibble Ave NW. (Seattle, WA) Sat and Sun Nov 27-28 AND Dec 4-5, 10 AM-4 PM.
I am selling my watercolor cards. My homemade framboise will be nesting with my friend Anne’s handmade chocolate truffles. My friend, Mary, has made holiday aprons I can’t wait to see. And you must see the hilariously irreverent Christmas cards created by the mysterious Hilaire Squelette.
On Sunday, Dec 5, walk into another world at the Sakya Monastery (108 NW 83rd –just up the street from Fred Meyer if you appreciate the ironic and incongruent) annual sale of Himalayan handicrafts, 11-4.
A good reason to go to the Laurelhurst Holiday Art Sale (4554 NE 41st St) Fri, Dec 3, 1-8:30 PM and Sat, Dec 4 10- 3 PM is to meet Molly Hashimoto, my first painting teacher, and see her paintings, prints and Pomegranate holiday cards.
When you Christmas shop this year, think about buying handmade. You don’t have to get me anything: just read my blog and save me some fudge.