Tuesday, December 19, 2006

in which I come to grips with the holidays

As last we joined our errant Drunken Housewife, she was feeling unhappy and stressed, her nerves sadly frayed at the idea of buying gifts for family members, in large part due to a family crisis under which an infant was placed in foster care, and the overwhelming family reaction was to engage in a cover-up and pretend nothing had happened.

I would like to thank everyone who wrote kind words, and it was greatly appreciated. I thought about the situation more, and what I felt, very strongly, was that I did not want to spend any time, energy, thoughtfulness, or love right now for certain family members. At the same time, I didn't quite feel like cutting them all off or starting any kind of new family snits. So I simply ordered a gift basket from a local company, and unbelievably enough there was one for $19.95 with free shipping which was entirely adequate (surprisingly good for that value). Amount of time spent: about three minutes. Amount of effort expended: virtually none. Cash spent: $19.95 (almost nothing). Because I had spent so little on my sister's family, I gave some extra cash to a family which I think is pretty damn deserving (okay, I hate to even write about this, because it makes me feel like a spoiled bitch, but yes, I have a family which comes in twice a month to clean my house. Our lives have been so much improved by this, my husband's allergies are better, and we fight so much less. When we had The Horribly Traumatic Plumbing Disaster resulting in the husband taking a second job and me taking a temporary job, we didn't cut out our cleaning. We will work more jobs rather than live in the pathetic squalor which results when we are the only people who clean this house). They work hard and have a child the same age as my youngest daughter, and I gave them the money I would have spent on my family (and I got two really cute sweaters for their son as well).

I did also donate to needy families anonymously through a really fun program my older daughter's school does every year. They post little gift tags with the age and gender of a child and what is wanted (the parents can pick an item of clothing, a book, or a toy). So every year, Iris and I pick a couple of those, and this year we bought an item of clothing for an 11 year-old girl (Iris selected a black dress with sparkly trim from the Gap) and a toy for a two year-old boy (we picked a fun, colorful wooden dragon that can be pulled on a string). Last year, the charity added the ethnicity of the children, which was a little weird for me. I wanted to buy a beautiful pop-up Cinderella book, but as the recipient was an African-American girl, I had a weird, liberal white moment of feeling that perhaps I shouldn't buy a book with all white characters (it would have also felt weird and condescending to buy something very ethnically-oriented, like a doll wearing kente cloth). This year the tags left off ethnicity, which allowed us to pleasantly pretend we live in a world without race issues.

For my extended family I do love (and miss, as they live so very far away from me), I bought little boxes of Joseph Schmidt truffles (I live within walking distance of the Joseph Schmidt factory, and Joseph Schmidt chocolates are my very favorite). This is a holiday tradition, as most years (except the years I have been poor) I do this, and my extended family loves getting these, as much for the beautiful, handmade artisanal boxes as for the yummy chocolates within. (I stopped buying them for my mother after she dissed the truffles and said she only loves the boxes).

Iris and I made some beaded Christmas tree ornaments, and I was intending to put one in with each box of truffles. The problem is that I'm so much in love with the ornaments, which came out much better than I expected, that I just hate to give them away. I'm wanting to keep them all for our own collection. I haven't wrapped up the truffle boxes yet, because I haven't been able to make a definitive decision yet as to be overly generous and give the ornaments or keep them, on the theory that no one will appreciate them so much as their makers. Making a lot more so there will be enough to give away AND keep is not a good option, because Iris is sick of this crafts project and unwilling to bead any more. (My child labor is just not biddable enough).

For Christmas for myself, I asked Anton to buy me a beautiful new piece of jewelry for my nose piercing, which made him wince and cover his head in his hands. I also pointed out to him my handy book list (visible right on your left, if yer curious).

With seasonally appropriate good will for all, and a glass of Meridian Chardonnay in my sole remaining Christmas wineglass, from yer old Drunken Housewife


Anonymous said...

yay! you're back!

we all missed you even tho it was only 2 days.

you did good.

Anonymous said...

I did the angel tree this year too. It's not that I don't beleive in things like that, but I usually don't feel an especial need to do it. When I saw the tree this year I was drawn to it and felt really strongly that I should participate. It may be Caleb staying with us, or having a child of my own, but whatever it was it made me feel great. (And aren't the holidays about making ourselves feel great?)