I know I'm not alone when I say 2009 was like a bad movie with no early exit. So I know you are as glad as I am that it's behind us. I have one last sweet holiday story for you and then I'll never bring up "that" year again. Bear with me as I repeat the 2009 mantra of "shop local". I know I risk sounding self-serving, but my own little holiday shopping experience may resonate with you. Having spent most of the holiday season working hard to make christmas gifts to sell, I had little time and desire to shop for my own friends and family. That and truly being forced to shop local because my car was in the shop leading up to the big day. My son had his heart set on buying his father Rick a fine pair of pruning sheers for his garden passion but of course it was out of season and too late to order anything on line. I walked over to my favorite local landscape equipment supplier, Billings. in downtown Royal Oak and happily caught the owner Rick Johnson. He use to be my neighbor across the tracks and has helped me out so many times over the last 12 years that I don't say it lightly when I say he is my hero. He didn't have any pruners but he knew exactly the right kind and simply dialed the phone to his buddy over at Four Seasons in nearby Berkley who did have them . It mattered not that Four Seasons was closed until spring, a buddy of Rick Johnsons was happy to help out one of his friends and made a special appointment to meet me at his store. My neighbor John took me over there and not only did Four Seasons sell me the Felco pruner made in Switzerland of stainless steel, he gave me a 15% discount because I'm Rick Johnson's friend afterall. After that pleasant and stress-free transaction (two days before Christmas Eve), John and I celebrated by heading across the street to the Nip and Tuck, a local landmark diner for breakfast. It's just about the cutest diner, painted cherry red with big picture windows so that you can see all the customers at the counter. The owners were all there and everybody was in for good tidings and their regular breaksfast. It was then that I said, "this is a perfect Christmas moment." I learned over eggs and bacon that the current owner is actually the daughter of the original owner who bought the Nip and Tuck with his winnings from the Hazel Park Raceway. Seems the proceeds were enough to retire from his factory job and live out the rest of his days at the griddle. The name Nip and Tuck just happens to be the name of the horse he had bet his future hopes on.
The only other thing I had to buy on this short notice were some interesting garden books. I had braved the lines at Borders and Barnes and Noble trying to find a book Rick would find interesting, but just couldn't take the crowds. I finally headed to Bookbeat where I should have started and walked in to find people I actually knew behind the counter. Not only is this about the most interesting and intelligent group of folks, the place is packed with books they have curated. I mean it, they have a stunning collection of special collector's books, obscure art books and other odds and ends that have been hand-selected, you just don't find this in the big stores. Gabby headed me right over to a book she had just read and loved plus the garden books the Detroit schools were buying for their urban garden project. I also found a weird calendar on the Munter Museum that my friend Lisa loved, had some great conversations, laughed and was done with shopping inside of two hours. Standing in line at some big national chain and then heading to some cookie cutter corporate food outlet is what I so despise about shopping this time of year. It's experiences like this that make life beautiful. I hope your year ahead is full of beautiful in-town moments.