The Jewish Guilt I felt shopping in Santa Fe - April 20

A few years ago, my mother & I took a Hawaiian cruise together.  We were just getting back onto good terms. She’d been saying she wants to travel, has no one to travel with and had always wanted to go to Hawaii.  Doing what I do, I went online and found a last minute cruise for us, on sale (which made her happy) & we went. Twelve days starting in San Diego & ending in Honolulu.  That’s a long time to share a room with your Jewish mother. Trust me!!


We are on this trip, walking around the little tourist street on Maui and I walked into one of the shops and saw a t-shirt I liked.  It was a tourist, t-shirt shop & not the $5 kind. It was a $28 t-shirt. I’d been snorkeling and this was when I had a terrible recession job.  I’m traveling with the poorest millionaire you’ll ever meet & she’s telling me how we can’t afford the souvenir t-shirt.

It’s not that the shirt wasn’t affordable.  It was how dare I want to spend $28 on a t-shirt.  A t-shirt should only cost $10. I don’t remember the store, the shirt, any of the details but I’ll never forget the disapproving look on my mother’s face or the way she shook her head with sadness, shock & disappointment.  At some point, my mother set prices for things in her head and because of the $0.99 Cents Store, she genuinely believes things don’t cost money. Everything only needs to cost $0.99.  That look she had in the store that day was this look she gave me anytime I’d see something, not extravagant but not on sale.  It’s an expression on her face that is burned into my memories because it never changed. In my opinion, that is a terrible way to live.  Not being frugal but only thinking that you deserve something if it is cheap or if it is on sale or if it only worth $0.99. My mother is a 77 year old Scrooge.  Tiny Tin would’ve died she had to pay full price for his health care. I don’t think a person should live like that. You need caviar & champagne every day but it’s okay to enjoy life.  I don’t think my mother enjoys life.

Anyways, I write this story because I live souvenir shopping. I go through phases when it comes to shopping in general but I’m stopping in cute shops & galleries in the towns I’m visiting and letting myself get the souvenirs.  This is a one-time moment. I’m driving across the United States to see & experience the country. There’s going to be a few new t-shirts and some other fun treats by the time it’s over. Yesterday, I shopped around downtown Santa Fe & paid tourist prices for the things I bought.  And I still feel like I have to justify the costs - to myself because of my mother’s residual voice (and guilt) in my head.

Yes, the tourist in my got art from a vending machine. 

Yes, the tourist in my got art from a vending machine. 

Staci Lichterman