solstice celebration

We don’t have a Christmas tree this year. I’d like one, but buying a live one just seems like buying a really expensive dead plant. I keep meaning to buy a fake one, but I’ve pretty much decided at this point to wait until January and buy a fake tree during the post-holiday sales.
So instead, I’ve hung the boughs of (fake) holly, strung the (fake) garlands wrapped in holiday lights (they call them fairy lights in Britain, which is utterly adorable), hung the stockings, and decorated some little twigs and branches from the yard. There’s still a holiday vibe to the house, but no tree this year.
We’ve bought Kidling some gifts already, which I plan to wrap festively and pile beneath the stockings. John doesn’t really seem interested in gifts (as usual), which means that (as usual) I’ll be hunting up or making him something quirky and inexpensive to try and surprise him. As usual, I bet he won’t be surprised. It’s becoming a tradition. đŸ™‚
I’m not really expecting many gifts, either. I think it’s just part of being an adult, or maybe a parent? I don’t know. Every year, we spend all our money on gifts for Kidling and any extra on extended family, so we don’t get presents for each other, really. I generally assume we won’t be getting gifts, since  all our loved ones are subject to similar financial restraints during the holiday season (lots of siblings, in-laws, and kids). This assumption is actually a good one to have, because it means that any presents or cards John and I receive come as a surprise and a delight, and bring that much more warm cuddlies of expressed affection with them.
Last year, dad sent me a B&N card, and sent John a Starbucks card. Another year, he sent us a Red Lobster card. I love these gifts — sweet, a date night with my husband? Awesome! Sweet, an afternoon outing with a hot drink and a muffin? Awesome! And you have to know the person’s preferences to get them the right sort of gift card, too, so it’s really not like taking the easy way out. I mean, if I gave, say, my brother (who’s not a prolific reader) a B&N card, he probably wouldn’t be quite as excited as I would be. Now, if I gave him a Cabela’s gift card, he’d probably like that more, since he could use it on ammo and gun-related stuff. So every time someone rolls their eyes and says, “Gift cards are so unimaginative; talk about taking the easy way out,” I just smile and shake my head. Gift cards rock the hard core.
Kidling apparently made or bought some present for me this year, which he is hiding in his closest and I have restrained myself from peeking at. He’s super excited about it, and to be honest, I am, too. When I was a kid, I always felt like a jack-off giving my parents homemade gifts. As a parent, I’m surprised to find I have a completely different view. I adore them — the little alphabet-letter beaded keychain Kidling made for me, the painted plate, the hand-drawn and lettered calender — these things are treasures in my eyes. So I’m looking forward to whatever handmade craft he’s created this time. I’m actually excited the way I used to be as a kid; I keep wanting to peek and not peeking because I don’t want to ruin either the surprise or Kidling’s pleasure at my reaction.

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