Friday, January 02, 2015

Holiday Giving ...

Pretty much everyone I know is in the process of shedding stuff. It is a delightful feeling, as I know from firsthand experience, having recently donated bags and bags and bags of books and an entire car and trunk full of stuff that, for years, I told myself I would sell at a garage sale.

After about 10 years of telling myself that story – and losing plenty of stuff to a flooded basement some years ago – I decided that it wasn't true. I could make it true, but not until spring, which, 'round these parts, doesn't often show up until June.

And I didn't want the clutter in the house any longer. I didn't want to walk past my guest bedroom and think, "I really have to deal with that."

So I dealt with it. Done.

Just in time for the arrival of the mac daddy of gift-giving holidays.

I already had a couple of gifts on hand that I knew were the right things but the balance of my list loomed.

On Thanksgiving, my father had announced that he had pored over all the sales papers and had found nothing he needed.

"The holidays aren't just about need," I reminded him. "Sometimes they're about want, too."

"Well, there's nothing I want, either."

All righty, then.

Dad got cookies and scratch-off lottery tickets. Seriously. He was delighted.

I talked with my oldest brother about gift ideas for the parents. He asked what I wanted. "Nothing," I said, and I meant it. "You pick up the tab all year when we go out for pizza and movies. That's more than enough. What would you like?"

"Nothing," he said. And I knew he meant it. He's spent the past couple years getting rid of stuff – the man is The craigslist Whisperer – and organizing the rest.

But I also know that he loves the white chocolate macadamia cookies at Subway, so I bought Ghirardelli white chips and half a pound of raw macadamia nuts, figuring I could do better than a fast-food chain.

He wrote the other day to let me know he had recovered from his cold and therefore could taste things again so he broke into the cookies at last. "They're great!" Take that, Subway!

Two of my nephews and my niece received afghans from their great-grandmother. I had two stashed in the guest-room closet, never used. They're navy and cream, rugby-stripe-ish, very graphic, rather nautical, and very cool. Each of the boys got one. And my niece received the afghan my grandmother had made for me when I was a baby. I included a pair of fluffy socks for her. The afghan is not big.

My grandmother was not a warm and fuzzy woman. But I was pleased to share her yarn talents with the kids. You can never have too many afghans.

I don't exchange gifts with their mom and dad, my brother and sister-in-law, other than stocking-stuffer treats. My brother always receives his favorite gummi bears from me. This year, my sister-in-law received a Toblerone. "I've never had one of these before," she said. "They're good!"

Of course they're good. A Toblerone played a supporting role in an episode of "Friends." It was cited in an episode of "Gilmore Girls." Toblerone rock.

My other nephew received a stash of cookies and a note that he shall begin receiving cookies as part of his college care packages.

It was a rather homemade Christmas, most of all for my mom.

She, too, got fluffy socks, which I did not make.

But her main gift was a wreath for her front door, which I did.

I was at their house one day, waiting for her to get home, lacking my keys for their house so I couldn't let myself in. I stood on the front porch considering the front door, knowing she was tired of the wreath she had, pondering what might work better instead, both based on her aesthetic and the style of the house.

My brain said, "Leather!"

Leather lacing would have been too fine though, the wrong scale, too busy.

"Old belts!" said my brain.

Yes, old belts!

And so I headed out to Goodwill a couple of days later to find old belts. Or new belts. Or any belts that would work with my vision.

And then I went to a second Goodwill store because I needed a larger stash.

And then I deconstructed the belts, removing most of the hardware. (I kept one belt intact to use at the top, as the "bow," as it were.)

And then I set out to find a wreath form.

Why in the hell are pieces of Styrofoam so expensive relative to what they are?!

That concern was moot, however, as the craft store I was in lacked the size I wanted. So I wandered the floral department. Surely something else would work. Maybe I could cannibalize a holiday wreath.

Or maybe I could use the straw wreath form staring me in the face.

Why, yes. Yes, I could.

I came home and wrapped that sucker in electrical tape to create a black base for any instances where the wreath form might peek through behind the belts.

And then I attempted to complete my project.

And then I attempted to complete my project.

And then, once again, I attempted to complete my project.

I finally finished on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, seriously just under the wire.

But I was pleased with the final result. Although, as I wrote to Angelo, who knew that this was in the works:

"DO NOT MAKE ONE OF THESE."

It was way more effort than I expected.

I shall not be getting into the bespoke leather-belt wreath business. One of these is all I feel the need to make in my lifetime and this is that one.

But we hung it up yesterday and Mom is very pleased.

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