Friday, January 02, 2009

Again, it's almost noon, and I am still in PJs. It's the second of January, and time to start transitioning back to "real life." I have this very weird relationship with the Christmas season. It's a lot of work, and frequently makes me cranky and mean. Then in between and immediately after the holidays, I enter a state of extreme laziness involving staying in my pajamas and reading for hours. But it's still fun, and I love it, and wouldn't have it any other way. (Well, I would have fewer mean and cranky spells.)

Stuff I got for Christmas: My big surprise from my hubby was a new iPod Nano (pink!) to replace the one he got me two years ago, which I then misplaced or lost a year or so later while he was gone...then a bunch of stuff that was on my request list. I got new PJs, cuddly soft ones I'm wearing as I type, matching booty slippers, the novel The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb, the soundtrack from the film Cadillac Records (have not seen the film yet, but wanted the music), a ladies-who-lunch purse from my stepson and his wife (it's a summer purse, and I'm going to buy a Jackie Kennedy kind of sheath dress and two-tone pumps to match when the time comes to use it, for it is that kind of bag) and also a fancy bracelet/watch from them, Starbucks & retsaurant gift certificates from another stepson & wife, beautiful gold grosgrain ribbon/quilted pillows to match my bedroom that my stepdaughter made for my husband and me, and a bunch of other nice, fun, and/or useful stuff.

I love presents, both getting and giving them, and must constantly head off the forces that want to inappropriately (in my view) alter or eliminate this custom. Spending limits are fine, and even reducing the complexity and expense by name-drawing, etc. When you search for or make a present for someone, though, you have to think about them, what they're doing now, what they like, who they are at this point in their life, and that's why it feels bad when I discover I have given them the wrong thing. But when it's the right thing, and they appear delighted, there is no better feeling.

I have also observed that when the present exchanging falls off, so does the making a point of connecting during the holidays. In my family of origin, we have a post-Christmas get-together among siblings, nieces, nephews, etc. The exhanges are mostly modest ones, but still fondly anticipated. I think we all know most of the items are purchased at deep, post-Christmas discounts, and that's actually part of the fun.

Now, though, Ron has started putting away Christmas things, and I must get dressed and become involved in this because I like it done a certain way (until I get tired, and then it's just random).


Shanghai Laowai said...

Meng does not have much sense when it comes to shopping for any sort of gift. He has never impressed me with his gift giving skills, but he has also never complained about something I bought. He is more likely to get some something I want for no real reason.... like coming home with an ipod for me in the middle of May.
So this year, when we decided to do Thailand for Christmas, it seemed like a great way to escape the Christmas shopping that we do not really have time for (it is hard to do in the city, and harder to do in a foreign country, and frankly, I do not enjoy it as much as I do shopping in the US). So Thailand it was. We got Hudson a little something, but he still has not opened it. It will probably be mid-January when we get to it.
So it is the first year we did a vacation instead of a present. It was wonderful. As we were having these amazing experiences, i kept thinking what a great Christmas present.... and it does not take up any space. I do miss the gift giving. I miss the family gatherings. But I do think the trip will be something we do again for Christmas.... We are already talking about doing Camodia, Laos and Vietnam next year.

Mary said...

I think traveling to new places is the most wonderful gift you can give yourself and your children. I'm looking forward to reading/hearing about Thailand!

I can appreciate that observing the usual customs while living abroad can be very difficult. Ron had a birthday when he was in Russia, and I looked into sending him something, but it was unbelievably expensive. He agreed that an e-card would be fine, and for my birthday, he totally surprised me by sending flowers via one of the Web sites.

Presents for no reason (like iPods in May) are most excellent.