My holiday season was busy, mainly with work and some socializing. In past years I’ve been lucky enough to get invited to a number of holiday functions and have felt obligated to bring a bottle of wine, a six pack, a hostess gift. This year I decided that I would not do that. I also decided that last year and it is easier said than done. So, when the first couple invitations came I made a point to call the host/hostess and said, I’d love to come but I won’t since I can’t contribute to the party. Mind you, I was not looking for tea and sympathy, and these folks know I usually bring something. With one exception I was told no gift needed, just show up, we are inviting YOU, not the bottle or food you bring. Now, I know when you get a party invite, you are being invited, not your gift giving abilities, but my DNA has me programmed to bring something. When I reviewed my holiday spending for 2008, I think I spent close to $200 on “hostess gifts” which really wasn’t budgeted so to speak.
The one exception was my friend Judith who re-married a few years back. She is Catholic and married a man who is Jewish. Judith can’t make Latkes (potato pancakes) to save her own life. I can make acceptable Latkes. This year, Judith and her husband hosted a rocking Hanukkah party. So, my Hanukkah gift to her family was to come over earlier and help organize and make the Latkes. Tiny bite sized Latkes that little tidbits of goodness (caviar, sour cream, applesauce, and more) were spooned on and served to the guests. I made regular straight potato ones and root vegetable ones (carrot, parsnip, yams, sweet potato, regular potatoes.) Thank you Smitten Kitchen for your recipe.
Christmas again was spent with friends, a lovely low keyed meal, but full of great food and great company. The weekend was spent at work with a minimal staff and full barn. The weather co-operated, meaning no snow unlike the previous weekend when we got a foot of snow. It was good to go home on Sunday and relax on my couch with a glass of wine.
I drastically dropped down my present list. I only gave to two old friends and my lovely neighbors. I did mail out a ton of cards, no irritating Christmas letter for me! I still have a gift certificate I need to order for some friends in the UK. I did get some nice gifts, a small bonus from work, two scarves, a couple bottles of wine and a tin of cookies I’ll actually eat. My 85 year old uncle sent me my annual $50 check and I got two gift cards, one for $50 and one store card for $30.
I usually give myself birthday and Christmas presents. This way I am assured that I will get at least one item that I WANT. For my birthday this year, it was a much needed new set of bed linens, but I was able to get a nice soft high thread count set from Marshalls. A couple years ago I used my small bonus, and a bunch of gift cards to buy myself my flat screen TV, which I still love and am grateful that I got. Winter is my TV season and even with my limited channel selection, it is still nice to have the larger screen to watch DVD’s and my few favorite programs. My present to myself this year will be a trip to IKEA to get a new bookcase. They are having a sale on New Years day, the item to be purchased is all wood, which is a good thing. I’ll be up early to make the trek, snag a bookcase and do a little shopping. I have given myself a limit of $160 including the shelf. Probably my only true New Years Resolution will be to make that last gasp re-organization and de-cluttering of my space. The new bookshelf will help. And just to point out, I’m only getting the bookcase new because my searches for the past two months have yielded nothing on Craig’s list, the local furniture consignment shops and freecycle. In fact, the two bookshelves I looked at on Craig’s list were pieces of junk that people were asking far too much money for. Come on folks, that POS you are selling for $75 is worth maybe $30! AND they were not all wood. The bookcases I really wanted are made out of reclaimed barn board and cost over $400 each. A local cabinet maker sells them. He makes each one himself, they are lovely, but I just can’t justify $800 on bookcases right now. My next furniture purchase has to be a new or new to me apartment sized sofa.
New Years Eve will be spent as it has been the past few years, over at the neighbors, eating good food, drinking a bit, playing board games, dancing to music and then off to bed just after midnight. Have a good safe holiday!