A Dream for the New Year

It’s New Year’s Eve. I feel compelled to write about it as I force myself to stay awake until midnight, so here’s something. I’m pretty sure I’m getting sick from spending too many nights out in the cold photographing the sky so if this post sounds a little muddled, that would be why.

Last night a party “blossomed” (as my mom explains it) for my last day at home—probably until next spring. We thought of inviting one friend over, then a family of friends, and then another and another. Last night we hurriedly cleaned the house and thought about what we’d serve. This morning, while we listened to Carol King and James Taylor my mom made a couple flavors of soup and I made apple fritters. Having those delicious snow-ball like fried batter balls with little bits of apple in them is a yearly tradition for our family but this year the treat was a little different: because I made them.

Okay, so I love to bake and cook and I can make many things pretty well but muffins are not my forte. I’ll probably end up having a family who always craves muffins. It’s too bad for them, then, because I just can’t make them. Guess what. Mixing up fritters is a lot like mixing up muffin batter so of course, my fritters would turn out dense and tough—and they were for company. Just wonderful. Hopefully I can try them again next year.

We had around 20 good friends in our house for lunch and several of them were able to stay for the afternoon. I played a long game of Monopoly, read storybooks to sweet kids and finished the party eating mint-chip ice cream and drinking a mugful of (decaf) coffee for supper. I don’t know what I’d do without coffee—I admit the sad addiction.

I’m really not into New Years’ resolutions but  I do have a bucket list . . . a long bucket list that I cross more off from each year. Here are ten I crossed out in 2011:

1. Color my hair (but you all knew that one already)
2. Milk a cow
3. Travel by train in another country
4. Have three jobs at once
5. Attend a ball
6. Rock climb
7. Drive a motorcycle (How did that go? Well, I’m good at crashing.)
8. Watch a Broadway play
9. Live by the mountains
10. See Machu Picchu

I don’t normally like telling what the goals/dreams are I haven’t crossed off yet but I’ll let you in on two of them tonight. The first is I hope to cross off “work in a bookstore, preferably a secondhand bookshop” this year.

I’m watching You’ve Got Mail at the moment so once again (and here’s the second secret) I’m reminded of how much I’d love to open a store like The Shop around the Corner. There’s something simply delightful about selling all your favorite books from childhood to children who are just discovering them, being a “storybook lady” each afternoon after the kids get out of school and hanging strings and strings of twinkling Christmas lights to decorate the store for the holidays.

Tacked on to this dream, due to my addiction to a good cup of coffee or hot chocolate with a decadent chocolate-chunk brownie while reading a good book, I’d like to have an attached coffee shop/bakery to this store. Maybe this will never happen, it’s not the most important or successful sounding dream, but I love to imagine it.

“Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life – well, valuable, but small – and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn’t it be the other way around? I don’t really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void.” —Kathleen Kelly from You’ve Got Mail

And happy New Year, dear void.

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8 responses to “A Dream for the New Year

  1. I totally have the same dream — down to the last detail. I went looking at retail spaces this past spring, but none of them jumped out at me, and God has yet to open the door to fulfilling it. My experience is more in selling coffee than books, but I always thought they went together, and have never seen it done with an independently owned shop.

    When I lived in St. Charles, MO, I managed a coffeehouse along the Missouri River on a historic, brick lain street. Unfortunately, my experience there ruined me for the average modern coffeehouse. It was called Picasso’s (our owner had a fixation with the artist), and our menu and walls carried a painter theme. In fact, our men’s bathroom was painted on each wall and ceiling to display Starry Night. I miss it, but look forward to having my own shop that feels like home someday.

    I can’t imagine a more important dream, and only you can define success for yourself. If it pleases you, and your humble service and resource to the world pleases God, why wouldn’t He place this desire on your heart?

    • That surprised me. It’s a nice dream; I hope you achieve it too.

      A brick street would be marvelous but Picasso is definitely one of those things where a little goes a long way.

      I say “success” just because if I had a business someday it would be hard not to compare it with my parents’ company. I’m trying to get those thoughts out of my head. They don’t expect me to be just like them and they are excited about my ideas but the thing is—I want to be so much like my dad.

      I could probably have a successful bookstore/coffeehouse but if it was a highly successful business I was after I’d choose another option. I guess it comes down to chasing money or chasing dreams. I’m more into chasing dreams. For my dad his company was/is his dream–but it isn’t mine. (And I should probably say this; his success didn’t come with his first try. He’s an entrepreneur and has tried many ventures before landing on what really works for him.)

      • I can understand that. It’s great that your parents have encouraged you to pursue your own dreams, even with their success.

        I’ve been a part of three different coffee/bakery startups, and so when I hear people say they want to enter the industry, I tell them to only do it if they can mentally prepare themselves to make nothing the first two years. Uneducated owners get flighty when business isn’t as good as initially expected, making matters worse by dumping profits into advertising. But independent retail is 95% word of mouth. Be liked by your neighbors, work the free social media, and keep realistic hours, and the clientele blooms in year 3. I guess it’s easier said than done, or everyone would be doing it. 🙂

        As long as you love your shop, others will too…it shows. Make yourself a place where there’s nowhere on earth you’d rather be, and the insane commitment will be a blessing!

        And as you’ve already mentioned, don’t do it for the money 🙂

        • What great opportunities you’ve had if you’d like to have your own business someday. So much can be learned from observing other people and their new companies, especially when you’re participating in the work.

          I agree that is a good mindset to have. It probably makes sense to have that mindset for almost any kind of new business; the first few years it’s like a baby demanding lots of attention and very helpless. I guess those are the most crucial years and if you can get through them then the business may take off and start working for you instead of vice versa.

          The hard thing I think is the start-up cost of a retail store is pretty substantial. Some businesses have no or practically no start-up cost so maybe to begin with a business like that and then move into a dream business which does need investment would be a good idea.

          Paying for advertising really is a waste of money until you can really afford it, and by then it’s just extra publicity. Word-of-mouth advertising is the best but it will spread equally whether it’s good or bad attention. When companies treat their customers exceptionally well and offer great products the talk going around will match the good service.

          Yep, I’m sure the love would show and it would be easy to work diligently on what I love and care about.

    • I was just promised a part-time job back in my hometown in a privately owned bookstore . . . along a brick street. I’ll be working in the used-book section as well as on their website, along with a couple other responsibilities. So that dream will be crossed off my bucket list as of this summer. I’m so excited!

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