Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Hope You Had a Nice Gift-Giving Holiday


Whichever one it is that you celebrated, that is. Keith and I used to go on a two week trip every year, starting the weekend before Christmas. We’d set up camp in a cheap hotel in San Francisco, NYC, or Chicago and shop and sightsee to our hearts content. It’s been a while since we’ve done that. We just haven’t had the money in recent years, plus we’ve kind of enjoyed spending Christmas in the house. We moved in Christmas Eve two years ago, and it’s our first house, so this is kind of a special anniversary time for both of us. I bake cookies and make fudge. We decorate a tree. It’s the kind of domesticity I never thought I would go in for, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

We’ve started going to midnight Mass at a local church that has a great choir. Neither of us is that overtly spiritual any more, but the ceremony is beautiful, the music is great, and it’s a nice part of the routine. We get home a little after one, light the tree, make tea, eat desert, and open gifts. My family opened on Xmas Eve, while his did it Xmas Day. Doing it after Mass is a great compromise. It’s still dark, so I can think of it as Eve, while it is technically the 25th. Cheesy I know, but it really does all seem to fit together into what has become “our” holiday ritual. And, in the end, that’s all that matters.

This year, I went “old fashioned” and made many of my gifts. I’ve always loved holiday baking and usually do make gift boxes of goodies for some people, but this year, I stepped it way up. Family members got several tins of stuff (many new recipes), while others got a nice mixed plate. Plus, I spent several weeks ripping music and burning CD compilations for folks. (Old-fashioned with a techno-twist) I made an instrumental set that I gave to most everyone at work. My boss (who has music tastes similar to mine) got a roots music set and my clerical support person got a modern rock set. My mom, brother, and several friends all got CD’s. Keith’s mother did too. And I made Keith a 3-CD set, complete with the obligatory pontificating liner notes booklet! I had a lot of fun with it, rediscovering my own music collection, and thinking of which songs people would like. I tried to put things on everyone’s CD that might be new to them. Hopefully everyone found a new artist to check out.

I actually bought a few gifts for some folks, but really felt cool about doing so much baking and burning. Might be something I’ll continue in the future.

Of course, Keith was one of the folks I bought things for, but I didn’t do so well. One item I mail ordered ended up being out of stock (I’m holding on to the idea to use at Valentine’s Day), one arrived several days late (despite being ordered around Thanksgiving) and one he already had. Sigh! I haven’t had that much bad luck with gifts in a long time.

He, on the other hand, hit the jackpot. He gave me the Emmylou Harris Spyboy DVD, which I had been wanting for a long time. (It’s excellent!) Todd Snider’s Hotel Rooms and Naked Truths CD (Also excellent!) Townes Van Zandt’s Texas Rain CD (Beyond excellent!) and Nanci Griffith’s book Other Voices: A Personal History of Folk Music. Part memoir, part personal musical journey, part recap of the recording of her two Other Voices CD’s, it’s a great book. And I opened the cover to discover that it’s autographed! Wow!

All of that would have been more than enough, but he went one better and completely floored me in the process. He collected a bunch of photos of us, the cats, the house, the concerts we’ve seen and more and had a web publisher put them in to a hardbound book titled Making A House A Home. I cannot think about it without tearing up again. It’s the sweetest, most wonderful gift I ever could have gotten. He’s a treasure, that man.

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