One week until Christmas – and I’ll bet your tree is up AND decorated! Your gifts are probably tucked away inside the closet, attic, trunk of your car, or else they’re in route with guaranteed delivery. (Forgive me if I chuckle a bit over those dubious postal deadlines – it’s an old inside joke shared by the secret cult of online merchants).
Most likely, you have – this very evening – returned from the grocery store to stockpile your pantry with yams and cranberry sauce.
If you live in the Northeastern United States… that includes 10 gallons of milk, a case of sparkling kiwi-strawberry or peach flavored water, 12 loaves of sandwich bread, some deli meat, and enough toilet paper to keep you in comfort in case the snow buries your house up to its shingles.
And you’re forced to dig air holes in your chimney.
And naturally, I’ve done none of the above. As in years past, we’re keeping Christmas (and Mia’s birthday next Friday) relatively conservative and quiet.
No guest list, huge table spreads, or mountains of gifts. I’ll send the cats out in a sled team if we need anything.
But despite the fact that I didn’t quite reach my sales goals for this year, and wasn’t able to splurge on fancy toys and gadgets for the kids, I’m extremely satisfied and appreciative of the support we’ve received from my loyal fans and new customers. :)
Purchases made from my two shops (and Zazzle, too) are meaningful, because they directly contribute to my family’s welfare, in addition to the small percentage I’m donating to sponsor a cat from BestFriends.org… an animal sanctuary, which is akin to tithing to a church owned by cats.
You’ll hear this all the time, especially in recent years – that helping the small business owner is also helping the community … but it’s the simple truth.
Each sale is important because it puts food on our table and diapers on our children, and enables a stay-at-home mother to live above the poverty line and not seek help from government welfare.
And you know me, I’d rather cut off my hand than beg.
When I began writing this post, I was reminded of an interview I’d read, which was published back in the late 80’s. One of my favorite actors, Michael J. Fox, was talking about the importance of his fans, and he said,
“My attitude is that this one paid my rent, that one bought my car, and that one paid for the hockey tickets.”
Essentially recognizing each fan as having made a direct contribution to his quality of life, and acknowledging his gratefulness for them….
it sums up exactly how I feel right now.
Of course, most Hollywood big-shots will thank “the little people” out of obligation, but the wise ones understand the truth: We created those celebrities ourselves, and purchased the crystal palaces in which they live, by spending the money required to make their films and franchises a hit.
Although sales of Mr Darcy Cat aren’t paying my rent yet, I was able to help alleviate my husband’s monthly financial concerns …here and there, by paying a utility bill, keeping the car filled with gas, and making a trip to the grocery store without using our shared debit card. ;)
The last few weeks leading up to Christmas have been blessed with fresh attention and excitement over my artwork, and I have a few prospects lined up for the New Year, including venturing offline and into an actual gift shop. Shhhh… fingers and whiskers crossed.
Even more importantly, to me, is the shift in Joe’s attitude towards the time I spend online and upstairs in my studio.
My recent sales were steady enough to carry us through each week. He has been more appreciative and positive-minded, even going so far as to plan an expansion with new products. His lofty dreams involve chopping and sanding fallen logs…. which will, of course, have cats painted on them. ;)
I’m beginning to feel that encouraging sense of team camaraderie that has long been eluding me… and I have you, dear readers and fans, to thank for it!
Without you, I would be just another mom of half-feral, young children, who sits at her computer… blogging about pipe-dreams and doing nothing to fulfill them.
But this journal is more than just my mindless ranting. It is also an account of my beginning – the cold-hearted retail cocoon that I’ve emerged from, the obstacles and inner struggles I face as a growing artist (and mom), and the career roadmap that I’ve lightly sketched onto a ketchup-stained napkin.
I don’t exactly know where I’ll be 10 years from today, but I am determined to reach my ultimate goal of a self-employed, family run business.
It will be interesting, and probably amusing, to look back and read this first-person narrative of my progress over the years. And someday, you and I will be able to reminisce and say:
You’ll make some obscure reference, we’ll both laugh, and my future hardcore fans will shake their perplexed heads.
Because it is our little inside joke.
Should we create a secret club, with hand signals and passwords, too? ;)