You guys. As completely expected, I am mucho into Christmas. Wedding crafting preemptively inspired all sorts of festive joy around this most darling of holidays. I went to Michael's about three weeks ago and came back with $50 of specialty papers, stamps, and punches. I am so happy! Last night was officially Round 1, complete with a Christmas station on Pandora, which continues to play behind this very post. You guys. They're so great. Each one is different. Also as completely expected, the first two are pretty lame, then I found my groove. Oops. A Yankee Candle kept me company. As I said, joy!
Also, my pants are all in a tizzy over presents. Due to a powerful suggestion from my better half, I'm (we're!) getting everyone close to me (us) a smallish present. This completely flies in the face of my family's heretofore unquestioned "Secret Santa" tradition. At once providing mystery and frugality, Secret Santa was fantastic before I realized otherwise. Drawing the names at Thanksgiving had always been super fun, once I was old enough to be included. Over the years, however, it has devolved into an email chain featuring everyone in the family stating a wishlist of three extremely specific things. Earrings, various books, knee-high socks; pens, more various books, an alma mater sweatshirt. No offense!, potentially reading family; I'm not blaming anyone. We all just got caught in this amazingly dry, uncreative rut. Certainly everyone wanted the things he asked for, and certainly we are all Very Busy People who lack the time (and energy?) to searching for that inspired present, but in reality, this Secret Santa game was little more than seeing who ended up funding the item you were about to buy for yourself anyway. Look, it had taken the excitement out of the whole thing! Perfectly enough, the one year that really stands out to me was the year that my cousin's wife bucked the trend and bought me something that was not only not on my wishlist, but I never would have considered altogether -- a simple travel mug and gift card to Starbucks! But more importantly, a travel mug! With a lid! It changed my life! I cannot imagine college without it; it was with me everywhere, every day,* from my daily 7:30 am job at the preschool to running subjects to studying at the Reg. Or, more likely, Harper.
Now. I am in no way advocating Christmas as a commercial endeavor where the point is that we all spend lots of money on everyone. I am, however, advocating Christmas as a time to step back, be joyful and excited, and give in such a way that reflects joy and excitement. And how much joy and excitement is there in creativity and surprise! So much! So, so much! There's an unfortunate pressure attached to gift-giving, involving the $ spent, the practicality versus the superfluity of the gift, and the relationship between giver and receiver and trying to find a gift that describes that relationship to the proverbial t. If we let go of, say, three of those pressures, look how unabashedly we'd give! Travel mugs for everyone!
True to form, we didn't register for our wedding, and we got all kinds of fantastic things we didn't even know we wanted. Vases! A cheese serving set! A red Japanese dinner plate set, complete with teapot! Of course, we got things we didn't especially want, but the point is that that is OKAY! We'll find something else to do with them and all will be well! No post on gifting would be complete without, arguably, my favorite (material) present of all time, and the least possible to ask for. It was a tablecloth, for my twelfth birthday, by my very crafty neighbor, a delightful and inspirational lady. All she did was take an enormous piece of white cloth and write "Happy Birthday Pam" and twelve candles, balloons, and swirls all over it in rainbow fabric paint pens. The edges aren't even finished, but I don't care! I understand that this present probably cost $4 to make, but I don't care! I have written her five or six thank-you notes over the years, reminding her how much I love it and that I put it out every year. Look! Simple, delicious gifts! Creative, out-on-a-limb, thinking-of-you! Little makes me happier. To give or receive.
All that to say. I am reclaiming Christmas. Presents. Handmade cards. An itty bitty something to say, you are wonderful.
*Until that fateful day that I left it after a big psych department meeting in G134, remembered later that day and thought, Oh, I am there all the time, I pretty much live there, surely my travel mug with its lid will be sitting on that counter waiting for me right where I left it I AM SO SORRY MARY :'(