make /māk/, v.

I love the holiday season, but let me set the record straight:

I hate the #PSL trend, and I can’t stand how marketing for it starts earlier and earlier each year (on the first day of fall, even when it’s still 80ºF outside in California?). I hate that everything turns into an artificial pumpkin flavor because legitimate pumpkin is better, and I hate that there’s almost always some argument over what Starbucks’ holiday cup looks like.

I am admittedly less antagonistic about the Christmas-themed products because they’re at least related to Christmas and other winter holidays that are culturally associated with giving more and spreading good cheer.

For me, this means by the time Halloween winds down, I’ve already written down a list of folks to purchase holiday presents for and begun limiting excess spending on myself to prepare to spend more on others for the holidays. This year, I got bested.

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Patchwork Show Oakland Maker’s Festival | Photo by Courtney Cheng

A friend and I went to the Patchwork Show Oakland Maker’s Festival in Jack London Square yesterday, and while she was busy thinking of what items she might be able to gift people on her shopping list, I was feeling somewhat overwhelmed because I just wanted to buy things for myself. (I will 100% own how selfish that makes me sound.)

All the vendors at the festival were makers. They’d made all of their products by hand themselves, whether it was creating jewelry, sculpting tableware, or designing prints. Each of their products was high quality, beautiful, and unique.

After my friend reminded me of the upcoming holiday season, I did begin to look at all the booths with an eye for purchasing for others, but I wasn’t able to find a particularly special gift for anyone on my hasty mental list. Everything there were things that wanted.

On principle, I try to avoid spending excessive amounts of money — particularly for material goods for myself — because I was raised not to be a spendthrift, and I learned from moving home after graduation that I already have too much stuff hoarded. I am the target audience of Marie Kondo’s book.

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Photo by Courtney Cheng

Yesterday, though, I decided to make an exception. I’d get the thing(s) I wanted for myself.

This might sound silly, but it wasn’t to just buy the thing(s). Every time I lingered in front of a booth, debating whether I wanted to purchase something, I held a very rapid negotiation with myself in my head while attempting to maintain small talk with the vendor, outside my head.

“I want this.” “But you don’t need it.” “But it’s so cute.” “But will you actually use it?” “Yeah.” “But it’s so expensive.” “But I’m supporting local artists.” And on and on.

Ultimately, my plain text self wore my italicized text self down. I did want to support local artists in the Bay Are; among my purchases was actually a gift for a friend (not myself); and getting these small, kitschy things that others had made, made me happy.

With the upcoming holiday season and the exponential increase in asks people, organizations, and companies will send you in hopes that you will support them — it’s crucial to not forget to care to yourself. Giving is important and healthy and a good thing to do, but only if you are actually able to do so without giving up yourself.

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