"The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of family (and friends) all wrapped up in each other."
Now that the dust has settled on the Christmas Holiday and the New Years celebration is history I've had time to contemplate. I've come up with a few things that made this special time of year sweet indeed. Some are gifts or gift ideas that I have used or may use in the future and I'm thrilled to pass on. Others are activities or traditions that I would like to preserve and share. It's, of course, mostly about THE PEOPLE.
The wonderful book group that I have been fortunate to be a part of for over 20 years met at my home at the beginning of December. In this book group we talk about the books a very small portion of the time. More than once we have enjoyed the whole evening together and the book we read never came up. We use the term Book Group very loosely. Often a better name for us would be the "Eat, Drink and Be Merry Group". I must add, however, that fantastic books are chosen, most of us read most of the books but somehow when we get together with good wine, good food and good friends occassionally the book discussion goes out the window. Anyway...I chose Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris, knowing that it would go undiscussed and I really just wanted to give those of us who hadn't read it a little light reading during the Holidays, about the Holidays.
We started exchanging books a few years ago. Most of us choose something off our own shelves that we would like to share with one of our book buddies. It's great to witness the personalities of the women emerge in their book choices, wrapping and editorializing during the exchange process.
Kicking the Holidays off with my precious Book Group women is something I think I may want to continue (if they let me). The first week of December is a little overwhelming but even with the extra work of putting on Book Group it was worth it. I streamlined what is usually a sit down dinner to a buffet and served our family's holiday punch...Red Roosters. With the food, fire, tree and fantastic friends I think that perhaps a new Holiday Tradition was born.
The gifts I got the most enjoyment from giving were the ones I gave my three nieces....ages 4, 7 and 10. For the two youngest I have been gathering dress up clothes for the last several months and was able to put together some real beauties. The girls were ecstatic and put on an impromptu fashion show for the rest of the family. The clothing and accessories were gleaned from my own cast-offs, estate sales and thrift stores. I presented them in vintage suitcases decorated with giant bows. The cost was reasonable and the gifts memorable and fun for all of us.
For the oldest niece, who recently started sewing, I put together a sewing kit, again from items I picked up at estate, yard sales and thrift stores. I found a large plastic sewing box and put fabric scraps, embroidery patterns, thread, needles, pins, scissors and more into it. Everything the budding seamstress might need.
The best idea of the season came from a colleague's 28 year old son. The family had made the decision to not give one another gifts so they combined the money they all would've spent into a "Pot". They are a "Game Playing Family" so throughout the Holiday they kept track of the winners of each game. The games ranged from Monopoly and Risk to "Snow Croquet". At the end of their time together points were added up, a winner declared and the winner got to make the decision about where the $$$ would go. She chose three favorite charitable organizations. All agreed it was great fun, gave a purpose to their gaming and benefited the less fortunate. Love it!
PEACE TO ALL IN THE NEW YEAR!