Sunday, December 8, 2013

1) A hippopotamus 2) my two front teeth 3) you

...also, a yacht. Really, that's not a lot.

CC by Visit Cape May (Flickr)

I think Santa must be aware of this year's struggles in the battle between Naughty and Nice (just at this moment, I fear I have overdue fines on a handful of library books I've held onto for too long), but he's a pretty easy-going guy. And the season is treating me well so far. I mean, despite lacking space to put a Christmas tree in our apartment tonight, I was given the opportunity to decorate not one, but FIVE trees elsewhere -- all in 24 hours. Sweet.

My holiday shopping for others is proceeding nicely. Last night I attended a (post-)Hanukkah bash featuring latkes, kugel, and a White Elephant gift exchange. My wife and I wrapped a couple kitschy items we couldn't find room for in our apartment to regift. We carried home a potted trio of herbs (generically called "Planty" for now, but once separated into their own pots, they'll probably have triplet nicknames).
She wouldn't let go of it. Woe betide the partygoer who tried to "steal'" it by the rules!

I wrapped a stack of presents for the Homeless Children's Network -- this year I get to be Santa for a four-and-a-half-year-old girl who asked for art supplies and storybooks and whose favorite color is purple. (Right??) All the gifts our church group have provided will be collected and acknowledged tonight, and I always love seeing the big pile of cheery wrapping around the altar. (Most years there's a big-ticket item like a bicycle, too.)

Hasty cameraphone photo

In my extended family, the tradition among the adults is to draw a name on Thanksgiving Friday and then buy a present for that one person to be given on Xmas Eve. My cousin maintains a website that posts everyone's gift lists and keeps track of which gifts have been spoken for, to avoid duplication while maintaining the surprise for the recipient. It also sends handy reminder emails and notifications if, for example, someone removes from their list a gift you'd said you'd bring. (I got one this morning, so I'm hoping that my "name" added some new options to their list.)

Other than that one gift, I think we're well on our way to being done with holiday shopping. A few homemade gifts this year, but most were purchased online. I love me some I maintain a spreadsheet (of COURSE I do) and just about everything that needs to be has been purchased, and some have already been received. (Since Thanksgiving there has been a moratorium declared on the willy-nilly package-opening that usually happens at our place after a visit from UPS. Only open boxes addressed to you, please, and only in a room with a closed door.) There will be a flurry of wrapping (perhaps lots of practice will help my wife to set a straight line of Scotch tape) and some standing in line at the post office next week, to make sure the distant folks on our list get their presents in time. The rest of the presents will travel with us on Xmas Eve, and we'll figure out how to celebrate the next morning in my parents' new home. Like where to hang the stockings now that there's no mantel, and there IS a ravenous Rottweiler pup.

While we're adapting new traditions, I'm pretty sure these will remain:

  • dinner and opening presents with extended family on Xmas Eve (the kids go first, then the adults in order of age)
  • movie sleepover in the living room where I fall asleep first
  • stockings and more presents with immediate family on Xmas morning
  • sister-elves examining all the wrapped gifts under the tree and sorting them into piles by name
  • brunch made by the "kids" that does NOT involve "breakfast casserole" (the tradition started in protest 12? 14? years ago)
  • an afternoon movie outing (probably Saving Mr. Banks this year)
And what do I want for Xmas? Well, I have a master wishlist in the back of my head, which includes world peace, the obligatory hippopotamus, and a single-family dwelling with an appropriate price tag and proximity to public transit... but for the rest of the world I made a Pinterest board

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