Home > just me > a little something long, rambling, and perhaps a little sarcastic

a little something long, rambling, and perhaps a little sarcastic

December 27, 2005

It’s been a few days.

I have some general advice, first, and then I have some ruminations. I think the advice is probably relevant to any number of situations, but it’s particularly helpful at this time of year. I hope it’s helpful.


Christmas is a time for being with family and friends and loved ones. This is the primary function of Christmas–to get relatives who otherwise would not speak to one another in the same room, preferably with some wine or eggnog (see below), and get them speaking.

Of course, we all know that Christmas is also about giving and receiving. Gifts. Some families do a Secret Santa kind of thing, some establish a dollar amount, and some just take the gifts as they come. My family is the latter. Some siblings spend more, because they are doing well and want to spend the money, and some spend less because they are not doing well or do not want to spend the money. In general, this does not cause much hard feeling. There are mountains of other things for us to get upset about at Christmas; that the brother in college bought our gifts at a truck stop is nothing to get worked up over. Hey–he got everyone gifts, he made the effort.

You’re wondering now, hey, missy, where’s the advice??

If you’d only have some patience…

So here is my advice. Whether you are a Secret Santa family, a dollar limit family, or an everyone-fends-for-themselves family, remember that your gifts should be thoughtful.

I know. It sounds Obvious. It even sounds Logical. Perhaps, you are thinking, such gift-buying is even Practical.

If you are thinking this, you must have forgotten that we are talking about Christmas. We are talking about a confusing, illogical, completely impractical holiday. One with great merit, yes–without it, I would never see at least one of my brothers–but one without much inherent Sense.

What do I mean by “thoughtful,” though? Because do not mistake me, I am not simply saying that you should think, “Does my sister wear a size 4 or a size 14?” No, no. That is not it at all.

I mean that your gifts should actually be things your relative or friend or coworker might (a) actually want, (b) actually enjoy, and (c) actually be able to do something with.

Point (c) is my gripe this year. My Christmas list was full of things that are small, compact, light, and which I very much needed or wanted. My family loves me, for I got many of them. Unfortunately, many of my other gifts are things which I cannot do anything with–or, in other words, they are things I CANNOT TAKE HOME.

Mr. Angst and I already bought another bag. We already overstuffed the one suitcase which was not already overfull. And yet, and yet, we have things that cannot come home with us. Things we like! Things we want to cherish. Things that were bought thoughtfully, according, at least, to items (a) and (b), supra.

So I am full of sighing tonight.


For me, the holidays are always somewhat bittersweet. I never get to spend enough time with my relatives, I always end up rushing through my shopping, I eat too much and visit too little. When the twelfth day of Christmas rolls around each year, I am always tired and usually just a bit regretful.

Oddly, this year is different. I am tired, yes, and I am regretful, but in ways I have not been before. I am seeing the holiday in a new light, now that I am one of the relatives who doesn’t live close, who isn’t around much. For instance, we had a very quick trip to see my grandparents and, unfortunately, it was not a great day for my grandmother. Maybe she’d seen too many people, maybe she’d had too many visitors–I don’t know. She was not, however, much up for talking. She seemed to be devoting all of her energy to just getting through the day.

In any other year, this would not have been a big deal because I would know that I’d see her (and my grandfather) again soon. I cannot guarantee myself that anymore. And my short, unsatisfying, and frustrating time with them is all I get for the foreseeable future.

Being the absent relative is hard, then, for them and for me.

It’s also hard being the long-term houseguest. I brought my five favorite shirts with me and I’ve been living in them for ten days. My contact lenses are really starting to bother me, but I can’t throw them out and put in a new pair since I don’t have a new pair with me. Finding breakfast foods has become a greater ordeal than I ever imagined.

I’m ready to go home.

It’s funny to think of Our New City™ as home, but it is. We’ve grown to love it there and I am eager to get back. A small part of me twinges with nostalgia for the home we had made here, the friends and the family who are accessible here, and the ease of a life in familiar territory. Still, I did not doubt our choice when we moved away and I don’t doubt it now that we’ve come back for an extended visit. The holidays, though, have given me new ways to miss this place even while I am reassured that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing.

Happy holidays, all.

Categories: just me
  1. December 28, 2005 at 8:32 am

    Good gifting advice. I hope you guys can return home soon!

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