Thursday, December 27, 2012

The perfect gift

This will sound grinchy: I generally don't like gifts. I don't like the attention of people watching me open presents. I hate the stress of getting something for someone if it's not the perfect gift. And, frankly, living in a studio means that when new things come in, old things need to go out.

And the shopping can be a pain in the ass. I find that going out on a mission to buy gifts is a sure recipe for not finding a damn thing. This was proved in a recent lazy Sunday shopping trip in Salem, MA, with my friend Noelle. 

The infamous book shop in downtown Salem. Fabulous if you have time and no hips. Every shopper could hear a book drop followed by me apologizing.

This chocolate shop was cute, and the treat with coconut and dark chocolate was lovely. But let's be serious. There was no way I would buy you chocolates and NOT eat them before Christmas.

 We didn't bother to enter this store:
Incidentally, this is one of the reasons why I love Salem.
Because here a little S&M and a crocodile head
seem like perfectly good window dressing.
And then there's this:
Jerry's is an institution in Salem. And in all my years of living there, I never walked in. And this is why:
A cloth calendar, like Nana used to have, from 1980, selling for $5.
If only I knew a couple named Tom and Jerry . . .
What the hell is going on here?
Just because we're in the Witch City doesn't mean you
can throw a pointy hat on anything and think it's clever.
Okay, so Christmas shopping in Salem was sort of a bust. Which is fine because I'd done most of my shopping up in Cape Breton this summer. But there was one gift I needed to buy here in the States . . . and that was for Festivus!

My friends don't celebrate Festivus in the proper manner. There isn't an aluminum pole, and I don't think you could argue that there are feats of strength. There's plenty of airing of grievances. But that's just how we role on any given day. But the annual Festivus party is a force to be reckoned with. With the saddest Yankee swap you've ever seen. The rules: $10 or less, and nothing serious. I was pretty happy with my contribution this year.
An inflatable unicorn hat for a cat and
Maybe You Touched Your Genitals hand sanitizer.
The party was fun as always, and I applaud the two gentlemen who were brave enough to attend. You, sirs, are a credit to your sex.

I won cereal. Is this guy important?
Noelle won a spinny thing with a dog face in the middle.
Melanie won an inflatable unicorn horn.
Wait. TWO inflatable unicorn horns at one party?! YES, party people. It's true.
Girl's gotta cut loose once in a while. Melanie and Kate have an, um, sword fight.
And then there are my friends who refuse to make asses of themselves.
Don't be fooled by these ladies.
Maureen and Gienna are trouble, I tell ya.

And just to prove that Melanie isn't always freaky, but sometimes just cute and demure by a Christmas tree:
But after Festivus come the weeks of REAL gift giving. My family is teeny tiny. I spend Christmas day with my folks, and we open gifts over video chat with little brother and his wife in Charlotte. I won't lie, it's a little awkward doing it all over the computer. Hard to hear each other, and there's a lag in communication. And to get my folks and me in the same frame, we would have to sit on each other's laps. Not happening.

So we had our Blair Witch Christmas with jittery camera and bad acoustics and video sometimes shot up my nose. We opened books (I received an embarrassing number of books), jewelry, clothes, scarves, scratch tickets, and more. And after the whirlwind was over, we all took a breath and smiled at each other.

My brother then piped up. "Mom, is everything opened? Are there any left on your end?" And my mom suddenly remembered something and ran to the other room. She returned with a ginormous but narrow box. And she handed it to me.

And while everyone stared at me, and I turned beet red from the attention, I slowly pulled the box open and saw what was inside.
This, my friends, is the original painting that I gushed over in my last blog post. It's a blue ribbon winner from the Deerfield Fair by the man on one can find online: Ted Nichols. When my brother was up a couple weeks ago, he found Mr. Nichols, went to his studio, and bought me this original canvas. It's perhaps the most touching thing anyone has done for me. And they were all in on it. The perfect gift.

And it turns out Mr. Nichols lives about 10 minutes down the road from me. He's a quiet carpenter who happens to also paint beautiful New England scenes that I've mentioned here, here, and here. So I'm going to take some time to get over my shyness and awe and call him and visit his studio. (Mental note: never, ever share this blog with him.) I'm coming for you, Ted. I'm coming for you.

Merry Christmas to you all. Hope you all got something fun and the love you deserve.