Mary Beth Writes

12/3/2021

One of my favorite lines this year: “Our family does Christmas cards at 20 paces.” (I apologize that I don’t remember the author.)

Are you done buying or making presents? Is this easy for you or is it a craziness in your life? I think for most of us, obtaining presents isn’t too hard except one or two people will stump and stymie. Make sure that if that person is not your favorite person under ordinary circumstances, try to not devote too much more time or money to them than you do to the folks you love full and easy. Christmas isn’t a contest to win. It’s simply a season to share ourselves and our resources more obviously.

What are thoughtful and helpful things we can give to each other this year? Assuming we would like, as much as possible, to avoid plastic (which will never decompose), or strapping ourselves financially, while attempting to do a little to make the world more just?

Here are a very few ideas.

There are many companies who will try to say they are Fair Trade. Look for Fair Trade Federation. They have the best track record.

Have you ever assembled a dead weeds bouquet? Go for a walk with a kid or a friend. Bring scissors and a basket. Cut weeds in alleys or along roads where no one cares what you do. The beautiful shades and graceful shapes of dried grasses, weeds, and pickers can be as beautiful as the memory of the walk. If you have cats this bouquet might only last a day, but if you don’t like comedy, you probably don’t have a cat.

When I was a teenager my sister gave me a very cool Scandinavian-design hand mirror. Mirrors are simple tools we seldom think to give to each other. I still use that mirror every day.

One year I spent quality time at the library picking gorgeous coffee table books on subjects Len is interested in. Wrapped them up and gave them to him Christmas morning. He spent weeks perusing them - and then I returned them. I would probably only ever do this for Len, but it was fun.

If one can afford it, it is always powerful to give a kid a bike. And a helmet.

When our kids were getting ready to go to college, we gave them boxes with handy tools in them. Hammers, nails and screws, florist wire, duct tape, screw driver set, Allen wrenches, pliers. Our son has turned his set into his garage filled with tools; our daughters still have their boxes and when we help them move, they haul them out.

When the kids were in elementary my mom gave them sewing boxes with various threads and simple sewing equipment. As they grew older they jettisoned the fancy boxes (I still have them, sigh, they were from my mom) but each kid knows how to use a needle and thread if they need to.

Good jams and cheeses. Perugino or other fancy chocolate bars or other candy. The trick to sweets seems to be that if the gift is for a kid, go for quantity. If it is for an adult, choose quality. Nuts and seeds. Fancy dried fruit. Medjool dates. Did you know camel drivers carried figs and dates because one only has to eat a few to garner most of the vitamins, minerals, and calories a person needs to exist? Efficient if you are going to ride a camel across a desert for a couple weeks.

If you know the person well, choose the weird things they love to eat. Our kids give Len anchovies and upscale sardines. The cats come into the kitchen to lick the cans when he’s done.

A good pillow is a fine luxury.

For our anniversary our kids gave us a digital picture frame which revolves photos of people and pets in our family. I walk by it frequently in a day; seeing the faces of my family makes me smile. It works via email, so they frequently send new photos. It’s a great (and expensive) gift for families who don’t live close to each other. A friend and her siblings bought one for their mom in an assisted living residence.

Kites - with a promise to fly it with your giftee! We know kids loves kites but you might have adult friends who would enjoy an afternoon flying a kite with you. Imagine the photos!

This is the time of year to try to shop at least once in places that feature artists’ work, or at Fair Trade Fairs (there is one in Madison this weekend https://www.fairtrademadison.org/ ). Stop by a ceramic studio. Buy cards and bowls, fabrics, and placemats. Shop an independent bookstore. We know all this but have you put it on your calendar? Or ordered online from such places?

This list is not awesome but I think you have ideas, too. 

What do you like to give and get?

 

Tags

Comments

We gave some of our Chicago kids a Zoo membership. It gives them free parking, so they can take the “littles” for an hour or so any time. My dad gave me a socket wrench set; a lifetime favorite, and so much power in a box!

Add new comment

CAPTCHA

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Happy Birthday to Len

11/30/2022 

Today is Len’s birthday. I told him this morning I might write about him but I would let him read whatever I said first. He said not to run it past him, he’d like the surprise of reading it when you all do. Let’s see what I come up with.

1. This is cute. Len was born in Chicago’s Passavant Memorial Hospital which was the grandparent hospital to Northwestern’s Prentice Women’s Hospital - where two of our grandkids were born.

Stories, Q Club, Us

The photo is not by Len or me, its from I Love Canada on FB. I've seen a sky like that just once. 

11/21/2022

Last week I read two books about young people who left their homes. They experienced some good and too many rough experiences and they couldn’t go back until they figured out how to not be who they used to be. Both novels knocked my socks off.

The People You Keep by Allison Larkin

Covid Diary #979 - Still Paying Attention?

11/17/2022

Yes, it’s been 979 days since Friday the 13th, March 2020, when everything changed.

Last Saturday one of our kids visited for several hours with their kids. It was fun though our kid looked tired. They said they’d taken a Covid test that morning and it was negative. They figured it was the wine and rich foods they’d shared the evening before with friends at the end of a very busy week.

Next Day - What Are You Seeing?

11/9/2022

It was a late night last night, wasn’t it? Len worked at a polling place 6:30 AM until 10:30 PM. He said the actual experience is a lot like working retail (which he has not done since he was 22). Stand up most of the time, pleasantly say the same thing over and over. Wonder if lunch is soon.  

Professional reporters and pundits are talking a lot about “what just happened”, but heck, we are noticing interesting things, too.  Let’s talk about what We The People saw and heard and are watching now.

Here are some things catching my attention.

Election Day

11/8/2022 

So many times I’ve thought things were going to be okay, and then they weren’t. My dad had that heart attack and the kid who was MB back then told herself to not overthink the drama because things always turn out more or less okay. Then the next day he died.

We lost a pregnancy far enough along that we had a name picked out and a crib in which to put that child. For a week I had all the misery and cramps that go with miscarrying and I still thought somehow it was going to work out okay.

That Beep-Beep-Beeping Moment.

In spring Len got a $100 traffic ticket when he turned right at a corner we’ve been turning right at for seven years. However, construction had started and there were orange barrels and cones everywhere – plus a small sign NOT facing the street Len was on, telling drivers to not turn there.

Len went back later that day and took photos. Len called the city to mention that if they posted a sign that actually faced the traffic, the city could save the cost of the cop parked there ticketing drivers.

Tag Cloud

9/11 17 minutes 500 Words AARPtaxes AAUW abortion Acadia accident Accountable Advent anniversary antibiotics antlers apples appointments Arrows art Ashland August Augustine baby Badlands balance Baldwin Barkskins Beauty Becky Becoming Esther Berry birthday bistro BLM BookReport books boy scout Bread BrokenDays BuyAngry Cabeza de Vaca Cahokia calendars Canada canoe cat romance cats cello Chicago China Choosing Christmas cilantro Cinnabuns circus clouds Clowns clutter Colonialism comet ComfortZone CommonSense community consumerism Cops Corvid-19 Courage Covid-19 Crazy creditreport creosote CrimeShows death Debate December DecisionFatigue decluttering democracy dentist depression Destination Today Detroit Didion disasterprep dogs dollhouse Dreams Duty Easter eBay Eclipse election EmilyDickinson eschatology Esquipulas exit polls eyes Fable FairTrade family farmer Fata Morgana firealarm Fitness Five Flatbread Flexible flu Fort de Chartres frame Franc FrancGarcia friends frugal FrugalHacks Frugality frustration Ft.Ticonderoga Galena Gannets Garden GarfieldParkConservatory Gaspe genius geode GeorgeFloyd gerrymandering ghosts gifts girls gorgons GovernorThompsonStatePark Graduation grandkids granola groceries Guatemala gum guns happiness HaveYouEver? hawks healthcare Healthinsurance hearings heart HelleKBerry heroes hike History home HomeRepair Honduras Hope hurricane impeachment Innkeeper Instincts integrity InternetPrivacy Interview InviteMe2Speak James Baldwin Jan 6 Janus JoyceAndrews Judy JulianofNorwich justice Karen Lamb LangstonHuges LaphamPeak laundry LeeLeeMcKnight lemming Len Light Lincoln Little Women LockedOut Loki loneliness LouisArmstrong Love Ludington Macaw macho Manitoulin MargaretFuller Maria Hamilton Marquette marriage Marsden Hartley masks Mayan MayaWorks meme Memories men Middlemarch MilesWallyDiego MindfulChickens Mistakes MLK moon Mother MothersDay mouser movies museums must-haves Mustapha Nancy Drew New Mexico New York City Nomadland OBUUC Ocotillo OnaJudge ordinary OscarRomero osprey Outside oximeter Parade mayhem PastorBettyRendon Paul Hessert PDQ Penny persimmon photos Pi Pies pineapples poetry Preaching privacy Protest QE2 Quern quest Questions Rabbit holes racism recipe recipes recommendations Remember RepresentationMatters Reruns responsetoKapenga Retirement rhubarb Ricky rime RitesofPassage Rosemary Ruether Roses Roti Ruth SamaritanWoman Sanctuary Sandhillcranes Santuario de Chimayo SaraRodriguez sculpture Sermon ServantsoftheQuest sewing Shepherd Shontay ShortStory shoulder sick sickness Slower snow Social Security SofritoBandito solstice South Dakota SpaceShuttle spring square feet staining stele Stereotypes StoryStarts stress Survival swim taxes teenager thankgsgiving Thanksgiving TheBridge TheMaid ThePerpetualYou ThreeBillBoards Three Thing Three Things ThreeThings TidalBore TimeBeing toddler Tom tortillas Trains travel Traveler Tubing turtle Twilight Bark Tyrone Ukraine Ulysses Grant UnrelatedObservations Up North urgency vacation vaccine Valentines vanilla Vietnam VivianWokeUpDrowning vole volunteer WalkingAndSeeing Wampanaog war WarsanShire weather weaving Webs wedding whines WhyAttendChurch Wiley Willa WillaCather Wisteria
Ad Promotion