Visions of Sugarplums, Gift Cards, and Checkmarks

Elizabeth Bluemle - December 24, 2014


Every year, Josie buys 40 lbs. of these delicious plum-flavored jelly candies (called “sugarplums”) from our friendly neighbor, The Shelburne Country Store. We keep a little plate of them–constantly refilled–for holiday shoppers to sample throughout the day all month long. Needless to say, this is a popular December feature at the store.

A few snapshots of the penultimate day before the holiday:
1) A grandmother comes in for her annual $100 gift card for her granddaughter, a child young enough to think of the card as her “credit card.” She comes in excitedly with her credit card all year long until the amount finally runs down and it’s time for a new one. Adorable.
2) A new customer asks to look through our supply of free bookmarks sent by publishers and authors to pick out several for her five-year-old grandson. He’s beginning to read, and is very serious about it. Whenever they pull out books to read together, he insists on getting his bookmark first so they can be sure to keep his place. Only, he calls it a “checkmark” instead of a bookmark. Again, adorable.
3) Not one, not three, not five, but eight kids who have grown up with the bookstore for the past 18 years have come in to say hello, chat, and find books for their family members. It’s hard to explain how charming it is to see these young adults come home from their far-flung new homes, and learn how their child selves have morphed into these beautiful, independent, grown people doing wildly varied, interesting things. What I love most is to see how they have, to paraphrase Kant, “become what they [already] are.”
4) After a long, busy day on the sales floor, I cap off my evening with a showing of It’s a Wonderful Life on the big screen at a local theater with friends. Retailers are often among the last people to have time to get into the swing of the holidays personally, because we are so focused on this month — 30 days that can account for 30% or more of our annual sales. So two hours in a theater filled with people who also get teary when the townspeople pour in to offer George their support is a terrific way to feel the spirit of family and friendship and holiday.
For those of you who have just finished Chanukah, and for those of you about to celebrate Christmas, and for those who celebrate any holiday or no holiday at all — I hope you are cozy, enjoying the glow of the people you love, and surrounded by brand-new books to see you through the winter nights.
What are the books you hope to get as gifts? Or have gotten and can’t wait to read?
Shelftalker and PW are on holiday for the next few days. We’ll see you next week.

1 thought on “Visions of Sugarplums, Gift Cards, and Checkmarks

  1. Ellie Miller

    Finding the RIGHT(!) book for hard-to-gift family members is always a problem, so I was thrilled to discover the latest Matthew Shardlake novel “Lamentation” by C.J. Sansom was actually available for order in the UK, even though it won’t see daylight here until 2015. It heads my own wish list, but this copy is destined for my nephew’s Christmas stocking. Another delightful discovery was “By the Book” which Pub Wkly tipped me to – the perfect choice for my NYT Book Review-loving brother. The books I want most right now won’t be out until early next year, but I’m looking forward to Sharon Lee’s “Carousel Seas” in January and the latest Susanna Kearsley novel in April. Now all I need is someone to gift me with a gift card I can use to acquire them.


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