This was a pretty nice Christmas, all told. We had a hard time falling asleep last night, then were woken super early by Kidling. This is the scene pre-gift unwrapping:

You like Kidling’s goofiness? Yeah, he’s adorable. Anyway, we unwrapped our gifts , then spent the morning alternating between napping and playing with Kidling’s Nano Hexbug Habitat.
Around 2 p.m., we went over to Missy, John’s sister’s place, to have Christmas dinner with his family and exchange gifts. It was pretty fun, very low-key and nice. John is still having a hard time chewing, so he couldn’t eat much (which frustrated him), but Kidling and I both ate our fill. There was turkey and stuffing and olives and cranberry sauce and a fresh fruit salad, plus home-made pies.
Then we exchanged gifts. Now, I have to admit — gifts are a weird psychological thing for me. I don’t really know how to explain it. I friggin love giving gifts — and receiving them (who doesn’t) — but I have this weird double-standard where I feel like I’m an awful person if I don’t attempt to give an expensive, extravagant gift. At every gift-giving occasion, John has to talk me down from buying ridiculously out-of-our league gifts — not just one or two, but for everyone. I keep wanting to get the people I love things like $100 gift cards or high-end electronic equipment. Hell, I keep wanting to buy presents for people who smile at me on the street. I really like giving gifts. but the socialized tendency for me to equate the financial worth of a gift that I buy someone with the amount of love I am expressing always completely stresses me out this time of year.
The double-standard part is that I’m hugely uncomfortable with receiving expensive gifts. I like thoughtful, homemade gifts, or inexpensive quirky gifts, but I’m really uncomfortable with receiving expensive gifts. For instance, this year John bought me a set of multi-colored coffee mugs. I actually let out a squeal of surprised delight when I unwrapped it, because I hadn’t realized he knew I wanted some. I guess he overheard me telling Tobiah about the sad state of mugs in our cupboard and that I needed new ones. Anyway, this is a perfect example of a low-key, practical, yet fun and thoughtful gift. So typical of my husband. 🙂
Gourmet Basics by Mikasa coffee mug set
So I always have to remind myself, when gift-shopping, that the type of people I associate with are similar to me in mindset, and they aren’t any more interested/ comfortable with receiving ridiculously expensive gifts than I am. That we all know the real wonder of the holiday season is found in relationships, friends, family, and good deeds. That none of us particularly care about the material goodies, but instead about what the giving of gifts expresses — love, affection, appreciation.
So this year, to counter my tendency to buy presents we can’t afford, I put John in charge of buying gifts for friends/ family. To my family, I sent cards and small home-made gifts, or just called and chatted. I did make some home-made peppermint bark for my in-laws, just because I love giving home-made treats to people. John and Kidling picked out some small, fun and/ or useful gifts for the family gift exchange — light up yo-yo’s, a bouncy ball, and some reading lights for his parent’s e-readers — and I helped wrap them. As usual, we still splurged on Kidling a bit, even when consciously trying to restrain ourselves, but overall I think we held ourselves in check fairly well.
After the gift exchange, my sister called. I found out, much to my chagrin, that two of my siblings were sick today. My older brother apparently was unable to attend the holiday celebrations at my sister’s place, due to illness, and my kid sister went to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy today. That really had me worried; not so much for her physical health, since we have a health care system well-equipped to deal with appendectomies, but for her psychological well-being.
I mean, it’s Christmas. Her roommate was out of town, and she was going to be spending it with our aunt and uncle, but instead she ends up in the hospital sick? This is a holiday we’ve traditionally celebrated surrounded by family, and it just made my heart hurt to think of her alone in the hospital. It’s bad enough to go to the hospital for surgery — major or minor — by yourself, but to have to go on a holiday? That just sucks. I couldn’t help thinking how miserable and lonely I’d feel in such a situation, and I wished I had some means of getting to her so I could sit by her bedside and tell her silly stories and hold her hand. Several hours later, I learned (much to my relief) that she wasn’t all alone — the bishop’s wife drove her to the hospital, and our aunt and uncle were there for her when she woke up. I should be able to talk to her tomorrow.
Then we went home and watched a Dr. Who Christmas Special and napped for a bit. We just woke up, and John has left to go squidding (this is apparently an activity best undertaken in the dark, and squidding season is in the winter). I really adore my husband — I love that he’s not only the smart, funny kind of guy who will discuss E.U. sanctions with me while cuddling, but that he’s also sexy, handy with engines and electronics, and totally into outdoorsy fun stuff like crabbing and hiking and riding motorcycle — but some of his outdoorsy enjoyments just boggle my mind. Then again, although I may not ever join him on a cold dock in mid-winter to dangle glowing lures in the hopes of catching squid, I have to admit that I love the culinary rewards of his efforts. I have another tab open and am browsing squid recipes right now. 🙂

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