Friday, December 10, 2010

The giving of gifts

I am not posting much here these days it seems. I am doing a lot of babysitting of my grandchildren right now. My daughter has gone back to work after her maternity leave and not all of her childcare arrangements are in place yet, so until the Christmas break I have one or both kids 5 days a week.Some days Ray is here to help, some days not. I am glad to be able to do it and really enjoy having them here.

Yesterday Ray took over the childcare duties and I met the STASH group for our annual Holiday lunch. For the past couple of years we have chosen someplace fun and different to go for lunch. Kind of a splurge. We decided this year to go to the Portland City Grill, a restaurant on the 30th floor of Portland's tallest building, the US Bank Tower, known as "Big Pink."   The famous view from the restaurant windows was totally white on our rainy, foggy day, but we had a grand time!

I have probably said this before, but I will say again how much I love this group of women. We have such a good time together. We have never, in the group, discussed giving of gifts within the group, but over the years certain customs have developed. When one of us travels, she often brings a little gift to everyone in the group. But only if we happen onto the perfect little gift. It isn't expected. It isn't mandatory. But boy is it fun. I have brought little zippered coin purses, made from handwoven textiles from Ecuador and tin ornaments from Mexico. Recently Beth brought us all tote bags with Bayeux tapestry images on them from her trip to France where she saw the tapestry. The holiday lunch has never officially been a gift-giving occasion, but in recent years gifts have appeared. Last year Linda managed to amaze and amuse us all with gifts of the P-Mate, a disposable, ummmmm, urinal for women. A hard act to follow, but no one is trying to outdo anyone. If we haven't run across something small and just right we come empty-handed and know that it's fine and we'll find something another time. It is really such a better idea than the obligatory kind of gifting that has you desperately buying 6 Starbucks cards just so you have something to give.

I was at Art Media awhile back and saw some beautiful little pocket-sized notepads with handmade paper covers from Nepal. Each was different. They had the exact number I needed for the group. Here is one of them.

Reva passed out tiny, heavy wrapped packets. Each contained a little cast iron frog or dragonfly.

This is just about exactly the same size as the real frogs I occasionally see in our yard.

Gale brought us beautiful frosted pine cones. She knows we all seem to have a thing for pine cones.

Beth brought tins of hot chocolate mix. She also knows what we like.

I felt so happy going home with my little treasures.

Last night I went to another Christmas party where we exchanged "white elephant" gifts. I got a "Bunco Babe" T-shirt just like this one. Not feeling the love so much. (I've never even played Bunco)

One of these days I am going to have to start Christmas shopping in earnest. The giving of gifts is such fun when you find, and can afford, just the right gift. I just hope I can find those right gifts, and I hope they are not at the mall, but some of them might be. —groan—  How's your shopping going?


  1. Not much shopping here and what I've done is books on Amazon for grandkids. I'm mostly sewing this year. Quilts for those I haven't made them for, three grands, shopping bags for my own two kids, get the idea. We decided not to exchange much with each other, we're so old we just buy what we want anyway. I gifted myself with a new camera.

    I'm taking your birdy class at the Quilt show in Feb. Can't wait to meet you in person.

  2. I'm groaning here too. I thought I'd give charitable donations in everyone's names, which works well for immediate family, but then I thought of a few friends far away who'd like a box of Hawaiian goodies. But then today is the last day to guarantee delivery before Xmas to places far away, and the boxes aren't very creative this year. I'd love to have a "handmade holiday" but I'm unfortunately our of ideas (with the exception of my niece and nephew and luckily I still have a week to get their gifts in the mail). Plus, for the first time, I have no idea what to give my kids. I feel Scroogy.

  3. I used to do full stockings, gifts etc and hated every minute of it. So I just stopped. My daughter loves buying gifts so she still does. My son sends something from California every five years or so. It's always a surprise. I buy what I what for myself and expect my husband to do the same for himself. We're getting a flat screen tv. I was sending the son and daughter something expensive from William Sonoma but they say they have everything they need.

    If I had grandkids I would be buying some of the really cute stuff I have seen in the catalogs. Wooden toys, doll furniture and good books.

  4. It’s relaxing to be Jewish at Christmas. ;-) That said, I feel Kristin’s pain. My ex-husband is Australian, and we had to get gifts for his family in the mail months in advance.

  5. I'm so glad to know about the P-Mate. I have gone to some great extremes not to embarrass myself, including my most recent on a bus in Thailand (with no bathroom).

    I love the idea of little gifts from people who are so much a part of your life. What a great group!

    I'm thinking of making crisp spiced nuts for the people who have been important in my life this past year.

  6. Yes, the older I become the more difficult gift giving has become. Perhaps I would feel different if I had children and grandchildren. I gave up "doing" Christmas six or seven years ago, but it is impossible to avoid giving gifts to the members of the groups I belong to. I rely on gift cards - Borders, Starbucks, Best Buy. Maybe things will change in the future and I will be gripped by the holidays again. I once enjoyed making gifts more than anything else - could happen again.

  7. My favorite gift to give was KIVA certificates so people could pick out someone in need and pass the money on to them. This year I am buying books for my new granddaughter and flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars for everyone else. I'm looking forward to having a child (well infant this year) at the holiday, I thnk it makes everything more fun

  8. The one good thing about moving away from southern CA is being able to Christmas shop without having to go to a mall where there is no parking and masses of shoppers!!

  9. I love handmade,but when I can't squeeze that in (like this year) I really enjoy giving fair trade gifts from nonprofit shops like 10,000 villages (have one by me, but they are also online). They buy directly from artisans providing a living wage to folks who need it, and the options are unique & affordable. Feels like giving twice!