Saturday, December 25, 2010

What Do You Mean Your Apple Doesn't Have A Jacket?

My folks aren’t big on tradition. In the last few years, though, we’ve started a Christmas practice of drawing names and buying a gift (with a $30 limit) for that person. Part of the impetus for this system was to simplify the shopping . Also, we figured that the money we’d spend on the other gifts could go to charitable causes (we used to pool this but now everyone’s on their own).
The number of names in the drawing is small: my parents, brother, and me. The ceremony happens at the end of the summer, when we write names on slips of paper and choose our Christmas destiny. Often we have to draw more than once because someone will choose his or her own name (this is not a terrible destiny, but not in accordance with the rules).
Another Christmas surprise: a Wii! My
brother teaches our Nana how to work it.
I should clarify, too, that my grandmother Hazel and all pets and cousins’ kids are all fair game for presents and not in the drawing.
Although one year my brother forgot whose name he drew (three cheers for the all-purpose gift!), and one year I lamed out and just got my mom some face cream, 2010 proved that we’ve hit our gift-giving stride.
I drew my brother’s name for the first time and enjoyed picking out gifts under $30 that would be practical but also whimsical. The winner? An apple jacket and a water-bottle cozy shaped like a shark, of course. How has he made it through 2.5 years of college without them? What if your apple gets cold? How better to keep the contents of your bookbag from bruising its delicate flesh?
My dad had my name and bought me a Camelback running pack. I’ve had my eyes on these for years but have toughed it out with my dorky fanny pack/water bottle accessory.
Very late this Christmas morning I woke up with leaden sinuses. I was going to skip a run with my childhood friend Desiree, who was in town for the holidays. But I’m glad I popped a Sudafed and some Aleve and went for it. She, her fiancé, and I ran on a snowy path that was almost deserted. And then we sat at my parents’ kitchen table for nearly two hours, drinking coffee and eating chex mix and clementines. Much of my life I would classify, in the argot of Facebook, “it’s complicated.” But there’s a pleasure in falling back into step with a longtime friend (I’m careful not to say “old” because she and I are the same age). I’m grateful for my new friends waiting for me in Spokane. I’m also freshly aware of how there’s no substitute for knowing someone for decades.
(You’ll forgive me, dear reader, for my abstract thoughts. In the last 24 hours I’ve been introduced to Wii and watched Inception for the first time. It's been an expansive holiday!)

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