Coy Crochet

comments: 93


I feel a lot better about everything after yesterday. I hit the ground running and . . . am almost completely done with all of my Christmas shopping.

I'll just give you a minute to picture yourself bopping me in the nose.

I know, I've grossed even myself out with this blatant display of organization, foresight, and self-satisfaction. But I can highly recommend it. The stores were so empty that at one point I had all three employees at P______'s cheerfully fussing over packaging my presents for me. Everyone was so friendly and helpful. I stuck to my budget. There were no lines and no hassles. Perhaps this is more a reflection of the state of our economy than it is on Christmas shopping on a Thursday afternoon in mid-November, but still: I like to think we were all genuinely having a good time out there!

Because I do love Christmas shopping. I always have. Every year on Christmas Eve day I'd go with my dad to North Riverside to SERVICE MERCHANDISE (anyone remember this awesome place? It just popped into my head and I haven't thought about it in years — my dad totally loved that store) or the Oak Park mall (which used to be a pedestrian mall but is now just downtown Oak Park). He'd buy his presents for my mom and a special present for each of us girls then. That's when there was still a Kroch's & Brentano's and a Marshall Fields downtown. We'd stop at Cozy Corner for lunch, which was like one of those traditional hamburger/club-sandwich/tuna-salad restaurants. Monte-cristo/coffee-in-a-scratched-white-mug/sixty-year-old waitress-in-a-half-apron restaurants. And then when we got home he'd send me upstairs to wrap everything, even my own present. (Classic.) But I miss buying presents for my dad. And I really miss getting presents from him, because shopping was something he only did on that one day a year, and I knew he looked forward to it, and there was something rare and special about getting something that he had picked out just for me. The green horse statue. The Lapis Lazuli necklace with the gold butterfly. The blue heart-shaped earring dish. The Pavlova perfume. I still have all of those things, given to me decades ago.

This year I am going to (coyly) make just a few special presents by hand. Not too many, though. That would not be in keeping with the New Non-psycho Alicia.


I'm quite envious of your organizational skills. Only one year did I manage to get all my gifts prior to Thanksgiving, but then i ended up not being able to help myself buy a few more things before Christmas, pushing me over the budget limit.

Still.... I've been working on the list already myself. Especially seeing as one gift is a custom desk for my daughter and needs to be ordered asap!

Now you're so organized and will have all this free time (jk) how about you put together a few more ornament kits for some late shoppers who missed the kits...... I know, I know, I'll wait until next year. Obviously patience isn't a virtue of mine either.

I'm impressed, and you've inspired me to do all my shopping next week. Not that I have that much shopping to do. I have only three people to do any shopping for. Not that I have any idea what I'm getting them. Hmm.

I know what you mean. I lost my Daddy a year and a half ago and I still want to go buy him suncatchers on Father's Day and some awe-inspiring cookbook for his birthday. It's hard, and I'll be praying for you when I have those hard holiday moments.

Good for you! I am going to sit down with my husband tonight and finalize the gift ideas, then get to town (literally, in some cases)! I am happy to be attempting some handmade gifts this year for the first time since my daughter was born (5 years ago), so I'm excited about that. I hope to get around to making your lovely felt ornaments....someday!

What wonderful memories you have of your Dad and your times together. Well done on getting all of your shopping done, my goal is to be all done with everything including crafting by Dec. 1st. so that I can enjoy the rest of the month without all the chaos.

I totally remember Service Merchandise and hadn't thought of it in years, either! I always thought it seemed so fancy to go around and look at stuff, write down the numbers of what you wanted to buy, and then they'd bring it out for you to pay for. Was yours like that, too?

Thanks for sharing such sweet memories of your Dad. It made me think of riding in the car with my Dad while he kept up a running commentary about cars. To this day, I can put any man to shame with my ability to identify make/model/year of antique cars!

Congrats on your shopping!

Aw...thank you for the memory! I met my husband at Service Merchandise. We just celebrated our 13th anniversary. That store has a special place in my heart too!

And yet another thanks for the memories. How I miss those days (I grew up in Chicago) - especially Brentano's, Carson Pirie Scott, and Field's. Bought my first grown-up purchase after I had a full-time job at Marshall Field's. I used to take the "L" downtown on Wednesday (our office was closed - worked late Thurs. and p/t Sat. - banking hours) and shopped.

Aww, it's nice to hear about what downtown Oak Park used to be like! I go there all the time, but mostly to Bar Louie and the Book Table. When I was a kid, my dad would take me to the mall and I would pick out some terribly tacky piece of Christmas jewelry for mom who doesn't even ear jewelry. Thanks for the reminder, now I must start my Christmas list!

We were a Gold Door family, but the rest of it is right on the money! I miss the Lake Theater the way it used to be and also Katie's Candy Store.

Thanks for mentioning all of these places I knew and loved!

My dad and I had a similar relationship. Christmas is always bittersweet without him.

Sevice Merchandise! Thank you, I was trying to remember the name of that store a couple of weeks ago.

I miss my grandmother most this time of year. A part of me keeps expecting to see her when I go home for the holidays.

we had one of those too. ahh the good old days ...

I want a non-psycho holiday too so I am actually going to make an effort to shop this weekend so I can enjoy December this year instead of freaking out like the rest of the miserable, last-minute shoppers.

I love Christmas shopping! Good to know that employees are so cheery at this time of year.
What is the pattern you're using in the picture? Super cute crochet.

Service Merchandise... forgot all about that place. Thanks too for the reminders of Christmas shopping in the Chicago area. I remember lots of little restaurants like Cozy Corner too. I just also had a Poppin' Fresh Pies memory... remember that place?

That's some beautiful crocheting...what is it?

I have to admit to being a bit jealous that you are not going psycho with the handmade. Because I am. I'm not crazed yet, but just wait until Thanksgiving.

I remember Service Merchandise.

And my dad makes us wrap our own presents too.

Jennifer O. says: November 13, 2009 at 01:58 PM

Service Merchandise! I associate it with a lot of waiting. And a big conveyer belt. But then I was a kid when it was around.

OH MY GOSH! Service Merchandise. My dad loved that place, too!

Oh, Poor Violet!! Her reign as cover girl was short. Hope she isn't too depressed. Loved that picture of her with the yarn. Every time I buy presents early, I find myself buying more at the last minute. I love shopping for just a couple of last minute things on Christmas Eve. Great crochet piece!

That is a beautiful crochet! Good luck with Christmas shopping!

Thanks for writing this. I lost my dad 2 years ago, and Christmas just hasn't been the same. Christmas was really my dad's holiday, and when he died the holiday spirit just went with him. I'm trying to get back into it, for the sake of my 4-year-old, but it's hard.

Do I remember Service Merchandise? It was basically the only store in my tiny home town, and it had this strange vibe--the shelves weren't stocked with packages of stuff, so it was like you were going to there to visit things rather than buy them--one hairdryer on display, one princess phone, one set of gold-rimmed china. I'm thinking now that SM might be the birth place of my inability to actually shop--I just go to stores to "see" things. Hmmm. Very interesting.

I remember SERVICE MERCHANDISE! I think I bought both my silver, and ceramic white tea sets there. Still have them! I loved your memories of your Dad, very sweet. It is so soothing to be able to see, touch, feel the love in those gifts he hand-picked out just for you years ago...:) Wooohooo! congrats on the Christmas shopping being done. Now you can really enjoy the Season without the worry of being in the midst of the last flurry of hectic shoppers!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


post a comment

About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at