Even though Halloween came on its regular day of the year, I wasn't prepared. As a result, I ended up "shopping my closet" to throw together a costume. I went the easy route: boot-cut jeans, a tie-dyed T-shirt, the basics for a hippie.

Then I pulled out a tote full of memorabilia that has survived multiple decades and moves. They say it's the accessories that make an outfit. Authentic period beads, a floral sash with handmade slide, a few pins with sayings or phrases, just a small touch of protest - voila! A costume!

It made me think. What exactly makes a gift become something a body will keep and carry for years? Those authentic period beads were hand-strung by a high school friend using my favorite colors. The floral scarf and slide were a gift from my older sister her first year of college. She saw them on campus and thought of me.

The gifts that are cherished and kept for years aren't necessarily very expensive. The gifts in my memorabilia tote are the ones that tell me someone thought about me, my personality, my likes and dislikes, my values. They're the ones that took some thought.

With Halloween over and done, we're rolling right on into the shopping season. I'd almost bet some of you have your Christmas shopping well under way.

There are gifts you will probably buy from a big box store because certain toys or electronics are at the top of a list. You probably are going to spend some time online ordering warm fleece or that specific pair of shoes your teen just has to have. But if you want to get the most bang for your gift-giving dollar, I challenge you to take the time and effort to find that "This is You" present. The best place to find those very special gifts is in Tahlequah's local shops and businesses.

Do you know someone who "needs" a pink flamingo umbrella? I do and can smile envisioning the reaction when they open that package. Maybe you know someone who cooks and has inherited Grandma's favorite cornbread stuffing recipe? They might cherish a cutting board with that recipe, in Grandma's handwriting, sitting on the kitchen counter. There's a new shop in town that can make that happen.

Does your special person likes jewelry? Not only does Tahlequah have very nice jewelry stores that can help you with birthstones or unusual designs, we have great artisans. Some time spent in our local stores will lead you to just the right piece in your special person's favorite style or colors. With the artists we have in town, you can find something beautiful with attitude and grace. Those aren't found online.

Ladies Night Out is coming up Nov. 21, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. If you can't make it downtown during regular store hours, this is your opportunity. The best presents aren't always the most expensive.

Sue Catron, former assistant vice president of Business and Finance at Northeastern State University, is mayor of Tahlequah.

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