PORTAGE PARK — The arrival of New Year's Day means it's time for Melissa and Joe Basilone to kiss, cheer and breathe a huge sigh of relief.
Precisely a year ago, the Basilones — who own Thrift & Thrive, a resale shop on the far western edge of Portage Park, vowed not to buy anything new in 2013. And while most resolutions fizzle by the end of the first week in January, the business owners — and parents to 3-year-old Evan and 8-year-old Liam — kept their word.
"I'm so relieved it's over, and that we made it," Melissa Basilone said. "It was tough."
Spurred by a desire to inspire others to live more simply, the resolution included some exceptions for food and personal hygiene products. But the challenges it posed ranged from Melissa Basilone's love of name-brand tissues infused with lotion to the myriad birthday parties for the boys' friends, she said.
"Christmas was the biggest challenge," Melissa Basilone said, even though their resolution also included an exception for one new Christmas gift from Santa Claus. "It was a good exercise in being resourceful."
Melissa Basilone said she socked away Christmas presents as she found them in thrift shops all over Chicago, and kept a close eye on eBay listings for desired items — like Play-Doh, which can't be bought used.
"As we got closer to Christmas, we got worried we wouldn't have enough," Melissa Basilone said. "I was worried we were ripping our kids off."
But the boys were "super excited" on Christmas morning to see the piles of presents underneath the tree, which included a Wii video game for Liam and a volcano-making kit for Evan — both used.
"I'm impressed I pulled it off," Melissa Basilone said, adding that she got her husband a vintage western shirt and coffee cup for Christmas — for $8 total.
"We've definitely saved hundreds of dollars, if not thousands," Melissa Basilone said. "It definitely feels very good to accomplish this."
But when the Basilones couldn't find what they needed used, they did without — including their dishwasher, which broke just before Thanksgiving, Melissa Basilone said.
"Two kids go through a lot of dishes, not to mention Thanksgiving and our annual Christmas party," Melissa Basilone said, adding with a laugh that a new one will be purchased Thursday.
Melissa and Joe Basilone also are looking forward to buying some new jeans — their favorite pairs are threadbare, and several others have holes.
"You can't really find good jeans used," Melissa Basilone said. "I didn't know that a year ago."
And while the Basilones would make the resolution again — and are glad they did it — there aren't any big resolutions on tap for 2014.
"It is pretty insane how much materialism there is in our culture," Melissa Basilone said. "It was good to take a step away from all of that."