Saturday, December 25, 2010

My Christmas Wish List

peas on earth - check, bags in freezer
love of friends and family - check, friends and family all over the world and now just a skype away
fulfillment - check, start new job working with special needs kids in January
extra cash - check, found a $20 CDN in a sweater pocket yesterday!
learn the slingshot cast-on - check(ish). lots of videos available, but it still escapes me.
jeggings - uncheck.  the perfect 'moto cycle' pair still eludes me.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Cards

I spent a few hours over the weekend and again Monday preparing my Christmas Cards.

What's happened to the tradition of sending cards?  Don't people like to get stuff in the mail anymore?  Or at least something slightly more personal than an offer of a credit card from Virgin America?

I have 321 friends on Facebook, 78 Twitter followers, 7 living aunts and uncles, 60 cousins and countless second and third cousins.  I also have former work acquaintances that I keep in touch with and various friends and neighbors.  I think I receive, on average, 10 Christmas cards each year.  I send over 100.

I know, I know - you don't invite people over for dinner so that they'll later invite you over.  You invite them over because you enjoy their company - you don't think in terms of reciprocity.   I don't with cards either, but you'd think that after years of receiving cards from me, at least a few more would manage to pop a card in the mail.

I have two sets of cards that I use.  Of course, being the Thrifty Thelma that I am, the cards are always purchased the year before at Boxing Day Sales.   I have a set of funny cards (this year it's Far Side Drunk Reindeers) and a more sedate set (Merry Christmas in various fonts/typefaces).    The funny cards get sent to immediate family and friends.  The serious cards get sent to anyone that isn't primarily an English speaker (they might not get how funny a drunk Rudolph is), or any business friends.

I've cut a few people off this year for various reasons.  First off, it ain't cheap to keep this tradition going.  If everyone used email, I could send a newsletter and be done with it, but my 80 year old aunt hasn't heard of the internet.  Stamps are also an expense, it's now up to 98 cents to send internationally.   That, and keeping track of everyone on the list takes a bit of organization.

Every single concern/complaint/headache is erased immediately when I open my first card.  This year (and most years), our first card came from Jay's Uncle Ernie and Aunt Toni.  I'm sure she doesn't wait until Boxing Day, she for sure is going to Hallmark each November and picking out boxes of beautiful cards, each with their own foil-lined envelope.   Toni handwrites and labels every card, and her penmanship is a delight.  She has always written against a straight-edged ruler, and she continues that to this day.  We see them maybe once every three years, never talk to them on the phone, but our card exchange is constant.

The second card is always a family photo and update letter from my friend Mark Quail.   He has a beautiful wife and two seemingly awesome kids.   The letter is always interesting, funny and never braggy. 

The next in line is from a quasi-cousin, Maria Antonia.   She also only uses high end cards, usually with sparkles or texture.  Another one with excellent handwriting.  I always take care when writing hers, I imagine her tsk-tsking my awful penmanship.

 Oh crap, I forgot the Bucci's!  Rachel and Michael are new friends (her picture is in one of my posts) and they sent out the cutest picture of their two boys.  I told Rachel that I cut out the picture part,  threw away the Christmas wishes, and put it up on my fridge.  I tell everyone that those two blond boys are my kids, but they are with my ex-husband today.

Baby, it's warm inside

So it's pretty cold outside, but it's toasty warm inside.  Husband is rehearsing for a concert on Sunday, dog is lying on his blanket, and a quiche is in the oven. As domestic a scene as ever happens in this house.

I am preparing for the holidays by making sugary treats for friends and neighbors, and as hostess gifts for the few parties we'll be going to.   I haven't bought a single gift this year, and I doubt that I will.  My family is far away, Jay's family is not that much further, and really - what can I possibly send anyone that they don't already have or can't get themselves?   If they were closer I'd walk over with a bottle of wine and a tin of homemade fudge and a good story.   Speaking of which, fudge is cooling on the counter, and the sugar cookie dough is resting on the counter.  I just realized that I don't have a single cookie cutter, so I'll have to use a champagne flute or something.    We are not without holiday spirit, I am realizing 'no gifts' sounds so grinchy.  We have a beautiful tree up, the piano is covered with festive decorations, and I'm wearing Santa underpants.

Once the baking is done (for today at least) it's time to put a brisket into the slow cooker for tomorrow's supper.   Gone are the days that I keep a meatless Friday - although it's so ingrained that I usually end up not eating meat on Friday anyhow. 

What are you doing to prepare for the holidays?