The Austin Chronicle

We Have an Issue: The Gift Guide Issue

On supporting local businesses and surviving a challenging holiday season

By Kimberley Jones, December 4, 2020, Columns

Every year, the first issue of December is devoted to our gift guide. As much as is possible we try to shine the light on local retailers, artisans, and service organizations, and we're beating that drum with extra vigor this year, when so many small businesses and nonprofits are struggling to stay afloat.

Any way you slice it, the holidays are going to be a challenge. Maybe you're one of the nearly 4 million Texans who have filed for unemployment, and presents aren't in the budget this year. Or maybe you're far from family and would rather sit out the whole season than be reminded again and again the ways this year pales in comparison.

My father and I muddled through Thanksgiving, our first without Mom, who passed away in October after a brutal six months battling leukemia. We acknowledged the holiday only glancingly, which is more or less how I've been working through my grief. It is with me always, but I do not look at it for too long. I fear unboxing the Christmas tree and our family ornaments would be like staring straight at the sun, so I'm skipping that too.

What I am going to do is bake all the same breads my mother did – zucchini, cranberry, blueberry, and date – and drop them off with my friends, waving from a distance at everybody's shaggy hair and little ones sprouted up in the months since I've seen them. Inevitably, I will arrive at a point during baking when I can't unpuzzle my great-grandmother Irene's laissez-faire approach to recipe writing ("some" is not a helpful measurement). It's going to hurt like hell when I can't pick up the phone to call Mom for help. But I think it'll be worth it, to spend an afternoon keeping company, of a sort, with her.

Enjoy our gift guide issue. Try to be thoughtful with how you spend your money and your time. And – this wisdom is borrowed from my sweet ma – always, always write a thank you card.


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