Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Last trip to the mall~

Winter framed~

It’s that last minute crunch time before Christmas when I start worrying that I haven't bought the gifts that will make people happy--even though I know happiness has nothing to do with gifts. I mentioned to Bruce this morning that I was going to go out and look for some surprises, aka something "off list."

He got that look--the one where his eyebrows rise to his receding hairline. Apparently I have a reputation of last minute buying "with no purpose or plan." Moi?

So we did our own thing: Bruce went out with a purpose and a plan—and the paper list and a mental one. I went out without either kind of list... hoping for inspiration. Looking for surprises. Waiting for something to "strike me."

After battling traffic into the mall, I entered Best Buy and felt that sinking feeling. I wanted to go home to the comfort of my laptop, to a cup of tea with lemon and honey.

"Can I help you find something?" said a young salesman... shorter than me, and bald--the shaved head kind of bald.

I must have stared at him blankly because he rephrased. "What are you looking for?"

"Looking for?” I took a breath and tried to think how to explain my issues. “I'm not sure, really. I'm sort of... " I made some random motion with my hands.

"Hoping for inspiration? " he finished for me.

"Exactly." I said. "I’m going to wander a bit." Aimlessly, with no purpose or plan.

I realize I have a problem when it comes to shopping for others. I can't shop the way it's supposed to be done--with brave abandon, with confidence that my choices will bring smiles. I never hold up things and say, “Isn’t this adorable? Won’t she love this?”

Here's what happens. Every time I see something that might make a nice gift, I run through my list of practical questions until I've convinced myself that the item isn't worthy… and the end result is there is not a blooming thing that seems to be worth buying in the entire mall. And then I get into my “Christmas is too commercialized” mode, and this isn’t the meaning of Christmas mode… Then I stop at the Orange Julius stand before leaving the mall. Shopping makes me thirsty.

Today I came home empty handed.

Which is better than the year I came home with the infamous, soon to be returned, but never to be forgotten “tune belt,” a word that has become synonymous for my frantic last-minute shopping rampages.

David, my youngest, was barely into his teens and I guess I thought he might like to listen to his CDs while walking, or jogging, or any time he might need to listen “hands free.” What's better than to sport a fashionable “tune belt” around one’s waist? Especially at 14. Be the first on your block to have “tune belt.”


So to make a long story short, my husband has taken over the shopping, and I do the wrapping, a division of labor that works for both of us. When I get a little anxious, David tells me, "Mom, relax. Christmas isn't about presents."

So true. I was the one that taught him that. Sometimes I need to be reminded.

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. ~Burton Hillis

Sunday, December 20, 2009

How to spend a snowy day~

Let it!
The weather outside was frightful, and the woodstove so delightful, and since there’s no place [I wanted] to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

And it did.

My husband and I shoveled eighteen inches off the driveway and walks this morning, and then, having freed the cars for use, chose to stay home.

And I, who doesn’t much enjoy the daily grind of cooking--peel, chop, boil, broil, serve, clean up, repeat daily—spent the day cooking. I baked meat loaf and lasagne, and then tackled the carrots we had only recently pulled from the back yard garden. Root vegetables can stay in the ground until a freeze, so we left them until the weather said, “Pull now.”

Sleeping in the snow~

It seemed odd to peel and slice fresh garden produce while the snow swirled, and odder still to utterly enjoy it. Usually preparing veggies for canning or freezing is a late August chore. Standing over a pot of boiling beans, beets, tomatoes, or whatever in 90 degree weather isn’t all that much fun, just a necessary task.

But peeling, slicing, and preserving a taste of summer in the midst of a winter storm was pleasure. Shredding carrots for muffins that filled the house with cinnamon warmth was delightful. And of course eating a buttered muffin warm from the oven was worth staying home for.

Let it snow, again!

And yet, I was ever aware of those less fortunate, those on the streets, those whose stomachs grumble, roar even, with hunger, those with no shelter, cold and alone… The awareness tempers my pleasure, while making me ever more grateful for what I have.

The epitome of patience~
What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like. ~Saint Augustine