Ever wonder who is the worst present giver in the universe?
Well ponder no longer! It is I, Jolie, the queen of the unoriginal, incomplete, too big, too small, entirely the wrong color and (one time) utterly inappropriate.
My ineptitude for gifting is off the charts and anyone who has ever gotten a present from me should know this but,
Apparently, they don’t…
2013 Rishel Family wish lists:
Son 3: Several toys that are no longer manufactured.
When I suggested these might be impossible for me get he laughed. “Duh Mom, just ask Santa.”
Son 2: Magic.
Not a box of trick cards, genuine magic. He wants to see a toy gecko turn into a toy bird family – the amphibian Phoenix. No small order.
“Relax,” he told me. “Christmas is all about magic.”
Son 1: a shaving razor.
Actually this is more of a need. It’s also a wish I should be able to easily grant except…
He is 12.
Here’s what I know: Upon return from his last business trip Mowgli would not let me unpack his bags. For a man who hasn’t done laundry since… ever, there are only two possible explanations for this. 1) He’s having an affair. 2) He got me something.
I haven’t gotten him anything.
Let’s hope it’s another woman.
So on the one hand, thank you family for your unwavering, though ill placed, faith in my ability to make Christmas special.
I’ve been doing a lot of lists lately, but hey isn’t that what November is all about? Grocery lists, packing lists, gift lists…
…and the never ending lists of thanks.
Since I’m sure the last thing you want to hear this Monday is how thankful I am for indoor plumbing (even though I am), I’ll keep this list short and little off center.
To my butcher for staffing his business with smiling young men whose knowledge of beef is inversely proportionate to their familiarity with political correctness. (Are there really women out there who prefer ‘ma’am’ to ‘beautiful’?) You’ve improved my self esteem as well as my cooking.
To my bank for knowing who I am and having endless patience for those who do not. No matter who the check is made out to (Joli, Julie, Jody, Joley, Jollie, or Joelee) you never fail to cash it.
To on-line stores that 1. Own a map of the United States and 2. Know how to read it. You make shopping painless and the other guy look really stupid.
To wood, spark and elbow grease for giving me the power to light and heat my home.
To the utility company for giving the same while keeping “laziness” on the table.
And finally to:
Dung beetles, house plants that thrive on neglect, people who drive faster than I do, and anyone who eats Brazil nuts.
Forget, for a moment, that October isn’t over, Thanksgiving is yet to be thought of, and the holiday tree accessorizing your living room this year is still happily married to the ground.
Now, let’s cut to the chase: What is Santa bringing?
Yes, I know nothing is more annoying than people who jump the holiday queue but… if you’re like me and plan on at least a partially handmade gifting season you MUST start now. There simply isn’t time otherwise. And, since step one if figuring out what to make, today I’m sharing my top three favorite handmade gift ideas.
1. Sewing projects that do not break the bank. Let’s face it, with the cost of fabric these days, sewing is no longer cheap. Mostly that is. Every once in a while, a good sale comes along and the savvy shopper can get a hefty bolt for a steal. After that, all you need to do is figure out what to make out of 20 yards of outdated, unwanted material.
Relax, I have some ideas. Besides table runners, pillows, and curtains, how about these?
2. Felt EVERYTHING. Oh felt, how do I love these? The ways are endless: Finger puppets, masks, costumes, play food, refrigerator magnets, story board, coasters, etc., etc. Felt is inexpensive, forgiving, and durable. You don’t even need to know how to sew. I LOVE felt. If felt would buy me wine, I would let it have its way with me.
3. Holiday baking that looks like you spent hours in the kitchen (when you didn’t). Enter no knead bread. You too can turn out a beautiful artisanal loaf with very little effort. The only thing this gift requires is planning. It takes about 20 hours to prepare. (Keep your pants on, more than 16 of those hours pass while your sleeping).
Usually we give this with homemade jam, but since we didn’t make any jam this year it’ll be with smoked salmon (Hey neighbors! Surprise!). Oh, and since we smoked the salmon last spring that means, technically, I started thinking about Christmas 8 months early 😉
I know many will be upset to hear it (KA and your entire family, sorry) but the fact remains:
I DON’T likeHalloween.
What’s to like, I ask you? It’s inconvenient, popping up in the middle of the week some years, demanding you stay up late but neglecting to follow up with a day of paid leave. It’s expensive, forcing people to shell out for treats they don’t get to eat and outfits they’ll only wear once. It’s orange (not one of my favorite colors) and it’s mascot is an inferior tasting vegetable masquerading as pop art.
The only part about Halloween that’s remotely agreeable is the candy and even that is not a given. Unlike every other feast day in the western world, if you want dessert on Halloween you must conceal your identity and threaten your neighbors to get it.
That’s not a holiday, that’s a mugging.
But the main reason I don’t like Halloween is because it’s scary. Really scary. Not just on the day either. Halloween ‘season’ can run as much as a month in advance. That’s 30 days where scheduled programming is preempted for serial killings, sitcoms turn dark and my favorite snack foods morph into tiny chocolate vampires. The entire population is encouraged, coerced, into scaring the crap out of each other. In some places spreading horror is regarded as a competitive sport!
Halloween isn’t fun, it’s sanctioned terror.
I know I’m the minority. Most find Halloween pleasant. Fake blood, haunted houses, appetizers shaped like body parts… they can’t get enough. There are those who will even swear on a stack of Ouija boards that they love having being frightened. That being terrified is enjoyable.
To them I say: Stockholm syndrome. Look it up. Get help.
Halloween is 11 days.
If I close my eyes, lock all the doors and pull the covers up to my ears, I just might make it…
Thank God for the Chinese. Between Christmas and Western New Year, December passes like a tornado. We’re dropped into January exhausted and blissfully unaware of the damage. A few weeks later, Blue Monday arrives. North America gets slapped in the face with reality. First, they are broke. Holiday spending has driven them to the poor house. Second, they are losers. Despite dreaming large, they’ve already blown every new year’s resolution they dared to make.
Then, just when all the penniless rabble thought they were doomed to another year of the same old same old, Eastern sensibility saves the day (365 of them). It’s Chinese new year! A New new year! A restart.
Do something new this week (that doesn’t require bank financing). Make a promise to yourself (that you know you will keep). Be with the people you love (and tell them you love them).
It’s probably silly, but I like to think that whatever you do on the start of Chinese New Year is not far from what you’ll be doing the rest of the year. Me, I went to a park with my family then watched the sun set together in a place we’ve never been to before. Maybe it won’t be like that all year, maybe it will. Nothing is better than for a moment to imagine it will be.
Like the Chinese, I celebrate new years with the first new moon. I’ve probably mentioned it before. I am sure I will mention it again. Don’t get me wrong, I will still party on the 31st and drink champagne and watch the clock and kiss Mowgli like it’s the last time, but I do that three or four times a week anyway. Tonight is nothing special.
The rigidity of an arbitrary calendar date doesn’t give me a warm a fuzzy. Though I’m sure the Romans had their reasons, the lack of imagination bores me into a coma. I need adventure.
Also, as a Cancer, I am a lunar child. Not celebrating the moon’s movement is an automatic Cancer out. I’ll be demoted to Leo or Virgo in a heartbeat. No offense to my Leo and Virgo friends. Consider yourselves blessed. It takes a special kind of dysfunction to be a Cancer. Squirrel!
But probably the most significant reason I cling to the lunar new year is that I’m never ready for the western one. Every year it falls off my radar. I know the last day of December is coming but it’s so buried and blurred by all the other winter holidays I don’t think about it. Then, when it arrives, it’s like discovering a skydiving hippo with a bad parachute ten feet over head. There is shock followed by a mad scramble then unavoidably ending in a monster headache.
Therefore, as far as this girl is concerned, real New Years, the one logially under the benign dictatorship of astral bodies, is still several weeks away. Phew
However, for all you crazy December 31st celebrators:
With happy thoughts for a healthy and prosperous 2013 to everyone.