On Not Being a Grownup at Christmas – GUEST POST!

A big thank you to my little bitty sister for this great post! And look at those jazzy handmade stockings. Show off.
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Last week, while lamenting to my colleagues that I had no idea what to get my boyfriend for Christmas, we ended up having a long conversation about the family present exchange. That’s when I realized that, shockingly, I have some pretty strong opinions on the topic. So here is my Family Present Exchange Philosophy
(FPEP):
In our family, Christmas is about the presents. Once I explain, you’ll realize that that wasn’t the saddest sentence ever to grace this blog.
Our family – cousins, aunts, uncles, significant others – gets together all the time. We celebrate every little thing with a big family get-together, and for the most part, it’s great (tis the season to overlook the drama). American holidays, Indian holidays, Hindu holidays, Christian holidays: it’s all fair game. Next year there’s even talk of getting a menorah (we’re equal opportunity around here). And there’s always food, fun, and more food.
But there generally aren’t presents. Indians are all about the benjamins, which is practical and smart, just like we are. That’s why Christmas is so great (here comes my FPEP); to me, unlike gifts of cash, Christmas presents represent the time and thoughtfulness of the giver. I don’t really care if I’m getting another fondue pot or something from the Dollar Store. Cheesy at it sounds, it really is the thought that counts to me. This person went out of her way to think about what I might like, spent hard-earned money on it, and then wrapped it in pretty paper (Here my colleague, the globetrotting poet I share an office with, disagreed. She wished her big Irish Catholic family would just give her money, instead of the “crap I’ll never use” they usually give.)
But it’s not just the stuff. It’s the entire experience. I love opening presents. I love that we all move away from the TV and sit around the tree. I love the anticipation of finding out what’s under the wrapping, and heck, I love the wrapping too. I spend way too much time thinking about how I wrap my presents, and I like giving my family the presents I’ve spent my time making beautiful.
During this conversation at work, another colleague recommended that my boyfriend and I get something for our apartment – a shared gift. He and I had considered this option, but we decided it was far too grown up for us. We wanted the presents, however small and inexpensive, but full of thoughtfulness and love.
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It’s the most Amish time of the year

Every year, for the past 5 years, we’ve been invited by a favorite aunt to the middle of Amish Country for a Christmas get together.  It’s hokey, it’s cheesy, it’s exactly what you need to kick off the holiday season. It’s like a mini reunion in December – and it’s perfect. Here’s the cast of characters this year – as you can tell by our faces, a good time was had by all! Sometimes you laugh, sometimes you get laughed at – that’s what our family is all about!

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That’s our cousin Dennis over to the right, there will be a whole post about him and his amazing momma. Jazzy xmas sweater Den!

We also put our tree up – inspired by everyone else’s beautiful trees on Facebook. I know loads of people don’t like FB, they think it’s evil, and it might be. But where else can you see everyone’s Christmas tree? Or everyone’s turkey? Or everyone’s summer vacation pics? For a nosey rosie like me, it’s perfect.  What were talking about?

Christmas trees. They are all beautiful. Every single one. Fake, real, tall, short, it doesn’t matter.  And every ornament tells a little story (even if the story is that you walked into Pier One and got it for 60% off).  Here’s some ornaments from our tree and the stories that go with it.

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Almost 10 years ago, our very dear friends gave us this beautiful wooden angel that they picked up in Italy.  It’s one piece of wood, hand carved and I wish my pictures could do it justice.  I’m obsessed with the little feet, and the little toes. Don’t judge.

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This ornament was waiting in our mailbox when we moved into our very first home. It was the week after Christmas and we didn’t even have a tree that year, but we kept the ornament hanging in the kitchen until March.  It’s no coincidence that it’s from the same favorite aunt that organizes the get togethers every year.

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And ofcourse we have some handmade ornaments on the tree – this one was made by my burly husband when he was a little wee tot. I asked him where he made it and how and why and what was his most precious memory of this ornament but all I got was,” I have to run to Home Depot”.

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This little ornament breaks my heart every time we put it on the tree. I worked right down the road from the World Trade Centers, where they’d have a holiday fair every year, I’d go but never really buy anything – except this little ornament.

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Two years ago, my husband and I were in the living room watching TV (shocker!) and as if in slow motion, we saw our entire tree come crashing down. We both tried to save it, but it was too late.  It was like a an ornament crime scene. Broken glass and cracked ceramic everywhere.  Sad right? Thought you should know.

So here’s the tree in its glory. We still believe in Santa in this house so there aren’t any gifts under the tree until Christmas morning (which also gives me until Christmas Eve to run around like a lunatic and buy presents).

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Hope you are all getting into the spirit of whatever holiday you celebrate or don’t celebrate.

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