The Unfettered Critic, December 2016/January 2017

“Pressure pushing down on me, pressing down on you…” ~Queen/David Bowie

Whew! Well, that’s over. We finally can relax, knowing that the incessant pressure exerted by an endless flow of shrill television commercials, flyers cluttering our mailboxes, competing yard adornments, and snarling voices has come to an end. Few of us felt in control during the vitriolic campaign. It just went on and on, ad nauseam. But now, after the semi-satisfying ka-thunks of our signed ballots landing in a counting box, the pressure is gone.

Except that it isn’t. Even before the seldom-sensical assault leading up to November 8th was waning, what to our wondering eyes should appear, but a vision of sugarplums frantically dancing down upon our psyches.

Yep—the holidays have materialized! And with their arrival, the pressure is born anew. The endless flow of shrill television commercials, flyers cluttering our mailboxes, competing yard adornments, and raised (this time in song) voices haven’t gone away: they’ve seamlessly morphed into the commercial chaos of holly and jolly.

But this time, dear readers, we know exactly how to relieve the mounting pressure from the hustle-bustle of the mall, the parking restrictions of big city downtowns, and the pawing through stacks of boring merchandise. The solution lays before you, smooth as a freshly fallen drift of snow.

For pressure-free holiday preparation, simply: Shop Local!

Yes, you’ve heard it from us before, but it’s as true as ever. Throughout Jacksonville’s historic core, merchants—friends and neighbors to most of us—have been engaged in carefully choosing exactly what you’ve been dreaming of to satisfy even the most difficult gifting needs.

But wait—there’s more! The local arts community, too, has anticipated your needs for the coming season. Take a walk over to the Art Presence Art Center—located on 5th Street in the old Children’s Museum (a.k.a. the old City Jail)—right next to our town’s recently refurbished “new” City Hall (a.k.a. the old Museum, a.k.a. the old Jackson County Courthouse). Inside you’ll find a wonderland of “Small Treasures”—handmade gifts created by friendly local artisans: framed watercolors, collages of fabric and folded paper, unique pincushions, tiny, hand-painted music boxes, a batch of the kookiest sock animals you’ve ever seen—and more. It’s worth a trip just to marvel at them all, not to mention acquainting yourself with the Art Center. This little gem of Jacksonville displays changing exhibits throughout the year, free to the public every weekend.

If that colorful visit awakens your desire to see more local art, you can head over to Pioneer Village for an exhibit of watercolor and mixed media paintings; to the Jacksonville Library for a presentation of abstract acrylic art; to the GoodBean Coffee Company, where you can enjoy a hot latte along with myriad interpretations of Angels rendered by Rogue Valley artists; and to South Stage Cellars with their regularly updated art and artist displays. And don’t forget to visit the recently opened Artist & Gardener, across the way on 3rd Street!

Interested in more hedonistic delights? Visit the tasting rooms of our local vineyards for a bottled gift with a smooth finish. Purchase a gift certificate from Angelica Day Spa, California Street Skin and Nail Studio, or a gift-wrapped sweet at the Jacksonville Kiwanis’ seasonal See’s Candies kiosk (across from Pony Espresso), where visions of their Toffee-ettes dance through our heads every year!

An old adage states: All politics are local. We prefer a different one: All shopping is local. Or at least it should be. Jacksonville remains the most pressure-free environment that we know of to fulfill anyone’s gifting needs, and that’s a gift to all of us.

Ahhhhhh! Happy Holidays.