Posted tagged ‘Christmas shopping’

“I feel the end approaching. Quick, bring me my dessert, coffee and liqueur.”

November 10, 2016

Yesterday I actually went through all the Christmas gifts I’ve bought and made a list. I haven’t yet checked it twice, but I do have an idea what I need. It was quite a surprise to find out I have finished six people. The stuff I bought in Ghana put me over the top, but I still have to get the guys and the little ones small surprises. Everyone gets a small bag of surprises and a big gift from me. Finding surprises for the guys is never easy. I’m thinking I need to peruse the aisles at the hardware store.

The weather is chilly today. The breeze is enough to drop more leaves and needles. I figure they are like the myth of Sisyphus broadly interpreted.

The fall days seem to meld together. When I wake up, my first thought sometimes is wondering what day it is. Usually I try remembering the yesterdays which gives me the hints I need. The date is on my computer or I’d never figure that out. Before I retired, days had an identity. Now they are just lumped together. I can do what I want when I want. No more worrying about school nights or waking up at ungodly hours.

I’m going out to dinner tonight to Karoo’s, a South African restaurant. The meats, the spices and the sauces are quite different from Ghanaian food. My favorites are the curried meat loaf served with rice and chutney and peri peri chicken served in a sauce of tomato, chilies, onions and ginger. A pomegranate cosmopolitan is usually the best start to the meal. I think no dessert but then can’t resist ordering Melkert, a custard tart, which is so light it makes ordering dessert defensible as if it ever needed a defense.

“Tradition is a fine thing. Nothing comes out of the blue, except perhaps thunderbolts and they are not really very useful things.”

November 6, 2016

Today is dark and rainy. The street is now covered with wet leaves and pine needles. They’ll dry then be blown away. My lawn too is covered in brown pine needles and has mostly disappeared. Every small breeze drops yellow oak leaves to the deck. I can watch them fall from the window. My den light is lit giving the room a cozy feel. Gracie and Maddie are asleep. I love mornings like this.

This week I have a meeting on Tuesday, and that is the only entry on my dance card. The rest of the week is wide open. I have some stuff I could do like go through the Christmas presents piled on a guest room bed and catalogue them by person so I can know what I still need to buy. I love to find just the right gifts for people, and it takes a bit of shopping to do that, and Christmas isn’t really all that far away. I did some Christmas shopping in Ghana, and I’m glad for that as the gifts will be unique. I bought yards and yards of traditional Ghanaian GTP cloth to be used to make presents. Now I wish I’d even bought more.

Some gifts have become part of the Christmas tradition. I give everyone a bag filled with smaller gifts including a new ornament with some sort of a personal touch like a fish for my brother-in-law the fly fisherman. The kids also get Christmas books. I give all the women earrings or some sort of jewelry. This year the jewelry is from Ghana. I buy soap for every bag like lobsters or starfish. I also try to find fun gifts. I bought an old fishing drop line for my nephew, a gift of memory for him. There are bigger gifts for the kids. The younger boys get Hess trucks. They are on the way. My only grandniece is getting a doll and a dress from Ghana. My nieces and nephews get gift certificates stuffed into their gift bags, something I started doing when they got into their 20’s and finding just the right gift got too difficult. They love the small gifts and opening the bags is always done on Christmas Eve. It is the tradition, and my family is big on Christmas tradition.

“Even as an adult I find it difficult to sleep on Christmas Eve. Yuletide excitement is as potent as caffeine, no matter your age.”

December 11, 2015

The middle of December shouldn’t be this warm. Yesterday set a new record high and today is already in the 50’s. I have yet to see my breath this winter. Santa will probably arrive wearing a Hawaiian shirt and Bermudas.

Yesterday was my most industrious day. The to do was completed. All the presents got wrapped and were put in boxes ready to mail. They’ll go out tomorrow. Gracie and I went to the dump, to Agway and finally to a grocery store so I could buy dinner. Last night I was totally exhausted from all the up and down the stairs and the hauling of boxes and presents.

My mother didn’t drive when I was a kid so I can’t imagine how she got all her shopping done. I don’t remember her ever being missing on a day when my dad was home to drive her. Maybe my mother did mail order shopping as our reference book for Christmas presents was the Sears catalog. My brother and I would look through the toy section time and time again and we’d circle what we wanted. The gifts probably arrived when we were in school. I know she hid them everywhere: the attic, the ironing board closet, the next door neighbor’s and the trunk of my dad’s car. We’d sometimes come across them but not because we looked.

I always did my shopping up town at Woolworth’s, Grant’s or the drug stores. The biggest drug store, the Middlesex Drug, sat on one side of the square. It had a soda fountain which had stools and a marble counter. They made the coke the old way by putting in the syrup then the fizzy water as we used to call it. In the middle of the store was always a display at Christmas. It was filled with perfumes and powders in festive boxes. I always checked them all out, but they were too expensive. I usually only had only a dollar or two, too poor for the drug store but rich enough for Woolworth’s.

Giving presents to all my family was really a big thing to me. I spent so much time walking up and down the aisles looking for something special for each of them. My sisters sometimes got baby bottles for their dolls. I remember the nipples were always pink. My brother was happy with his balsam plane. My mother made a big deal over the perfume I’d bought despite how inexpensive it was. My dad welcomed new handkerchiefs. He always carried one with him. I remember him pulling one out and blowing his nose with a great deal of noise.

I’d wrap my own presents and put them under the tree right in front. I was so proud of them.

“No decision should be made on an empty shopping bag.”

November 22, 2015

It was rain I first heard when I woke up. The drops were falling from the roof to the overhang, and their rhythmic sound lulled me right back to sleep for another hour. When I woke up the second time, the rain had stopped so I went out and got the papers and yesterday’s mail. Since then the rain has come and gone a few times. When I hear the drips, I know.

Gracie and I shopped yesterday. It was the perfect day to be around and about. We went down 6A, one of the prettiest of all routes to take. I stopped at the Brewster Book Store. It hasn’t ever disappointed me. I bought books for the grand-niece and nephews for Christmas and a few neat little things for their Christmas bags from me including head lamps, rubber duckies, small wooden trucks and a doll. I was tempted to buy myself a book, and I did look, but I have a rule about not buying myself stuff around Christmas so I dragged myself backed to the car. Our next stop was a small bakery. I bought dessert for tonight, game night, chocolate peanut butter brownies, and a lemon square for me to eat as we went along. It was so good I almost went back for another. I still wish I had. Gracie and I stopped at a couple of my favorite shops where I bought a few more small things for stockings, and that was it.

When my parents shopped for Christmas, they hid the toys in a variety of places where we seldom ventured. One was the attic. A small staircase came down so you get up in it, but the attic wasn’t finished. It was just beams from one end to the other with insulation in between. I remember one year I woke up when they were taking things down from there. It was a musical toy I heard. I was beyond Santa by then so I wasn’t shocked, but I was curious. They made a couple of trips back and forth to the living room then they turned off the hall light so I knew they were done. I sneaked downstairs to watch. I never got caught. Another hiding spot was the closet across from the cellar door. My mother kept her ironing board, iron and cleaning supplies there. I happened upon a few Christmas presents hidden there one year. I was never one to hunt for them. I preferred the surprise, but this find was serendipitous. Three of them were books for me. I sneaked and read one of them but pretended surprise when I saw them Christmas morning.

I keep all the gifts I have out in the open except for Gracie’s. She found hers on the spare room bed one year and ate all the treats. Now I hide them.

“I like these cold, gray winter days. Days like these let you savor a bad mood.”

November 29, 2014

When I woke up, it was cloudy and dark. Now the sky is blue and the sun has returned for the first time in days, but it is mostly light and a bit of show. The early morning, even with the sun, was so cold my car windshield had frost for the first time this year.

Last night was the coldest night since March. Gracie got under the spread and stayed there all night which is unusual. Most times she starts to pant from the warmth and uncovers herself again. Right now she is napping, exhausted from barking outside at nothing and from playing fetch down the hall. She is finally back to her chipper self. I was a bit worried.

Today we’re going to the dump then we’ll Christmas shop along 6A. Gracie will be my co-pilot. Once the cold weather arrives, she gets to wait in the car, not something we can do in summer. She always keeps an eye out the closest window for my return.

One of the guest room beds is filled with boxes and bags, all Christmas presents. When something arrives, I just put it upstairs without marking anything down so I need to check and make a list of what I have for whom. Naughty or nice doesn’t count. I do love to Christmas shop, to find just the perfect gift. I never last-minute shop. All year-long I put gifts into my Christmas box. Over time I have learned to buy it when I see a perfect gift no matter the time of year as it might not be there the next time.

The gold finches have taken root at the feeders. They stayed around last winter, and it looks as if they’ll be here again. I did notice a few other sorts of birds in and out, but most take a seed and fly to a branch to eat it. The finches just hang around. A woodpecker stopped at the suet feeder. It stayed a while. I noticed the thistle feeders need to be filled, but I’ill wait for a warmer day.

“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot a person by the way he or she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas lights.”

November 25, 2014

I am getting use to these warm days, a mistake. Winter is the slyest of seasons. One warm day can be followed by frost and even snow. Today is dark. Rain is coming and tomorrow will be an ugly day.

For the last few days a box or two has been delivered. Inside is a Christmas present or some stocking stuffers. I have been computer shopping. It is not as much fun as wandering through stores, but it is less expensive. I find all sorts of sales and free shipping. One item was close to $30.00. With free shipping and a coupon I found on-line it was only $19.00. Next I’ll make a list of what I still need and with list in hand do some shopping on small business Saturday. I’ll wander on 6A and see what I can find. One stop will be for me. In Orleans is a henna shop, and I was thinking my hands could use some decorating for the holidays. They’ve been painted twice before with henna: once in Morocco and once at a fair. They looked exotic and I loved the patterns.

Traditions are important to my family especially at the holidays. Certain dishes have to be on the table to make the meal complete. We get to open one door a day on our Advent calendars. My sister gets a Life Safer book just as she did in her stocking every year. I give my niece and nephews small bags with a few gifts including a new ornament, toothbrushes and fun soaps. That started when each of them turned three and I sent a filled piñata for Christmas Eve fun. They are now filling piñatas for their nephews. I love that I started a tradition.

Some of my neighbors have already put up and lit their Christmas lights. I don’t think it’s too soon. Darkness comes early, and the lights makes us almost forget we have a long winter ahead of us.

“November always seemed to me the Norway of the year.”

November 10, 2014

Today is a lovely fall day with a slight breeze, mottled light shining through the backyard branches and birds at all the feeders. It is a quiet day. I don’t even hear cars. I do hear the snoring, especially Gracie’s. She seems herself. The next test for her is Saturday.

I have to buy cat food and litter today so Gracie and I will be out and about later. I also need some cold cuts so I can keep hiding the horse-sized pill she takes each morning.

I have started my Christmas shopping. Everything I’ve bought is on one of the guest room beds so I have to start checking what’s there and making a list of what I need. My sister in Colorado never helps. I ask and she says she’ll have to think about it. That drives me crazy. My other sister usually has one big item in mind and always asks if it is too expensive. It never is. The best part of Christmas presents is getting something you really want. I may drive my sister crazy this year as I have nothing in mind. I’ll just let her surprise me.

The three boys are getting Hess trucks for one of their gifts. They get one every year. The baby will only be 5 months by Christmas, but I figured I’d start his collection. Both babies got hand-knit stockings already, and I have ordered each of them a wooden box containing three handmade ornaments including Baby’s First Christmas. Kids are easy. Adults seldom are. To some I give magazine subscriptions including Afar, Smithsonian, Bon Appetit and Yankee. They are always a big hit as gifts. I’ll also do some hunting in local stores as I love to find different and off-beat gifts, and there are a few stores I can always count on for something special.

Well, my back is horrific today. I did too much yesterday. That’s always the way with me. It happens all the time. I am a slow learner.

“Every gift which is given, even though is be small, is in reality great, if it is given with affection.”

December 16, 2013

Today is sunny, windy and cold. The sun is muted, almost hazy. The pine branches sway a bit in the breeze. The day will keep getting colder so tonight will be a down comforter, stay warm night. It is a winter day at its best.

My back is better: less painful, mostly stiff. The lazy day I had yesterday was the perfect elixir. I have a few things to do today but nothing strenuous. I really need to decorate those trees. They are small so they won’t take too long. That will be my afternoon project.

My uptown had both a Grants and a Woolworths when I was a kid. Grant’s seemed to draw old ladies who spent time in the notions and cloth departments. The Woolworth’s Five and Dime was my favorite and the best of all stores. It had a bit of magic about it because you could find almost anything. It was where I Christmas shopped every year around this time. I needed five presents which had to total a dollar, a huge amount of money in those days. I walked up and down the aisles looking for those perfect gifts. My father was first as he was always the easiest: white handkerchiefs. He used them all the time, and I gave him new ones every Christmas the whole of his life. He was never a Kleenex guy. I sometimes bought my mother perfume in small decorated glass spray bottles, the ones with that little pump ball you pressed to make the spray work. Other times I’d buy a small sewing kit which had a few buttons just in case. Once in a while I’d buy her a pocketbook to read. I’d be drawn by the cover. Once I’d finished with my parents, it was on to my sisters and brother. They were really easy. Woolworth’s had a great toy section. The counter had wooden divides, and the toys, at eye level, were inexpensive. A balsa wood plane was for my brother. We all knew from experience that they flew best outside. If you flew them in the house, the tail section usually broke when the plane hit something. I remember how the wing slid into the plane’s body, and that had to be done gently. For my sisters, I had so many choices. There were plastic baby bottles for dolls. They had pretend milk which seemed to disappear as you feed your doll. Small plastic dolls were another choice. Their drawback was they dented, especially the faces, and once dented, they stayed that way. There were plastic balls, jacks and jewelry, mostly bracelets. I always got my sisters the same thing. It made it easier that way.

When I got home with my treasures, I’d wrap them behind the closed-door of my room. I think back then I used miles of scotch tape, but I always thought the gifts looked beautiful. I’d finish then go downstairs and ceremoniously place them under the tree. I’d move them about until the scene was perfect to my eye. I was always so proud of those gifts.

“A flower blossoms for its own joy.”

November 21, 2013

I am fine. Yesterday I even had my car serviced and then treated myself to a stop at William-Sonoma. I figured I deserved it. Had I not been tired and hungry, I’d have made a few more stops. ‘Tis the season for Christmas shopping.

The nights are cold now, snuggle into the down comforter cold, and the days aren’t much warmer. I was out filling the bird feeders this morning and my hands got cold, but I was rewarded when the birds descended en masse. The red spawn appeared a while later. I saw him from the kitchen window, and I swear he checked the back door before he decided to stay on the deck rail. I ran out, and he got caught on the deck and was running back and forth. Gracie joined in the chase. Finally the spawn leapt onto a branch, a far away branch, and went from branch to branch into my neighbor’s yard. That is the only spawn which can get at the squirrel buster feeder because it is so small and lightweight. He jumps up, grabs a seed then sits on the deck to eat it then does that over and over. He keeps the birds away. My other nemesis, the grey spawns, haven’t been around. I see them racing in the yard and on trees but not the deck.

When I was outside this morning, I could hear the birds and I could hear the tapping of my downy woodpecker. He comes often to my suet feeder. I like watching him eat as he does so with such enthusiasm.

I watered the upstairs plants this morning and was rewarded by finding my Christmas cactus in bloom. Last week it was close to blooming, but I forgot about it, all the better for today’s surprise. The cactus has both red and white flowers, and they cascade from the green stems and hang over the table. I sat on the bed for a bit just looking at that plant. It is so beautiful. I always think of a Christmas cactus as a gift from the season. It is winter’s only flower.