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Hey, do you guys have any rhyme or reason to the things you put in Christmas stockings? Growing up, we always got some sort of magazine, some piece of fruit, and a bag of candy along with other miscellaneous small things. I'm working on a concept; go with me here. What if I organized stockings based on the five senses? Everybody's stocking would have something for the eyes (a book or magazine, something pretty to look at, or even a sleep mask), for the ears (music, something that made noise, jewelry, or maybe earmuffs), for the nose (aromatic food, or some sort of cologne or smelly pen?), for the mouth (well, duh), and for the skin or hands (maybe mittens, something very soft, or fun soap). Toss in some candy, the "Santa gift," and voila!

Yeah, I know; the kids won't care, and Eric will roll his eyes. Still, it would give me something to think about besides "Need more small things...need more small things..." I always get annoyed doing that. Even if I never even tell the family what the "plan" was, I'll enjoy the challenge.

(I smell a smell. That would probably be the second "deposit" Gabe has made since I started this entry. Perhaps he's not feeling well; he certainly will not be feeling well once he realizes that I intend to change his diaper once more. Scream, writhe, attempt to escape!)

Ahem. Where was I? Oh, yes; stockings. You know, I begin to feel worse for Mom every year; filling one's own stocking is really quite anticlimactic and sort of robs the holiday of a bit of its cheer for me. Not only that, but Dad never did do much holiday shopping; he might have picked up one or two things for Mom each year, but most of the packages under the tree with her name on it were things she bought and wrapped for herself so she could take part in the festivities. Spelled out, it sounds even sadder than it probably was, but since I'm thinking more and more like her with each passing day, I can now begin to understand how pathetic that had to feel.

I'm not about to buy and wrap my own presents (you hear me, Eric? Not now, not twenty years from now! I'm sticking to that!), but the stocking thing does depress me a little. I'd have Eric do mine, but there's not much time to try that this year, anyway.

I do feel pretty blessed this year, despite all the sadness and stress. In the middle of everything, I've gotten to feel love coming in my direction from all over, from load of cards and emails to little care packages, all the way to a very large package of gifts from a listserv on which I've participated for several years now. The women on that listserv always do a "gift goddess" exchange, but this year we did an additional "Goddess of the Year" gifting, where everyone sent in a gift for one person who was selected at random; I was floored to return from West Virginia and find the pile of boxes waiting for me. Lots of little things to make me feel loved and appreciated - it couldn't have happened at a better time.

And then there were the gifts my parents got me for Christmas, which seemed especially thoughtful this year. I mean, look at this:

Gift from Mom       Little clay teapots

Mom said that she thought of me when she saw it, because I can't display my big teapot collection right now. Isn't it gorgeous? And my grandmother got me an enormous bag that just exactly fit the shadowbox, all quilted, in a French country toile print; it will make a perfect knitting bag, especially if I get some sort of soft needle case to go in it.

I just feel pampered, and it's not even Christmas yet. Of course, ask me how I'll feel when I'm getting ready to hop on a plane again in a couple of days. Perhaps I'll still feel pampered, but in that jittery, nervous way that a Pomeranian feels when he's being swung around in a Louis Vuitton handbag.

Eric was sitting on the couch next to me, when Sam walked up with his "guitar" (a rubber band wrapped around a hollow-bodied GeoTrax mountain). "I want to play you a sad song about Grandma is died," he said. Eric and I swallowed our punched-in-the-gut reactions as best we could while Sam strummed and hummed for us. Thank God, it was a wordless tune.

He did spend a few days focused on "why Papou's wife smoked cigarettes," but I was relieved to be able to at least get him to lay off that particular line of questioning until we were home and I could talk to him about addiction without Ronnie overhearing. It's hard to explain to a child how adults can not know something - even harder than explaining why an adult would do something they knew wasn't good for them. When Rita started smoking, doctors were actually recommending specific cigarette brands, and Fred Flintstone was advertising Winstons. It was a different time, and that alone is a hard concept when you're only four years old yourself.

Last night's episode of House was a repeat, and I had seen it before, but the line he delivered about how there's no ribbon for lung cancer, unlike other forms of cancer, because people blame lung cancer victims - it really hit home this time. I never want my kids to feel like their grandmother in any way deserved what she got, however the rest of society may feel about smokers.

I'm going out tonight by myself to finish shopping. Eric, consider yourself warned.

previous one year ago:
For my part, I'm in that weird state I always enter during these extended visits, the place that's a cross between "houseguest" and "close family."
two years ago:
Apparently, the scans of Rita's windpipe showed an airway so constricted that the doctor was amazed that she could still breathe at all.
three years ago:
What I might otherwise have considered a mediocre movie makes the list simply because it was the only movie I saw in the theaters this year, which lends it a certain amount of charm.
four years ago:
I asked it, knowing fully well that I wanted him to say that he wanted a baby. It was a stupid test, and I knew it.
five years ago:
But, oh, that heartbeat! That incontrovertible evidence that a tiny human being has taken up temporary residence in our bodies!
six years ago:
And finally, I'd like to overcome my pathetic reliance on modern medicine and finally master regeneration like a normal person.
In the ears:

On the Bookshelf:

Gratuitous Sam



Red Rider BB Gun!

Extra Gabe

Pink cheeks

Devil grin



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