Horse Sense

Clump #86:  Wrap more presents; make dining room reservations; reconnect with gift list.

Today I reminded myself how easy it is to get a few, or even a big clump of tasks done early for the holidays … and then fall into a false sense of security.  And then … AHH!  The days have dwindled down.  Emails, catalogs, and flyers are blaring the words “There’s Still Time To Order,” but what you had in mind will be more expensive with extra shipping charges, or is no longer in stock and back-ordered into the new year.  I might have to have this little talk with myself a few more times before the end of my 30-day, 30-clump, 30-post: Project Enjoy Christmas challenge is over.

I did get a few more gifts wrapped and written on The List, which was a good memory jog for other things I still need to do/buy.  Remember, remember!

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One item on my to-do list that felt checked off was reserving space in a private dining room where my mom lives for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.  I had called the woman — twice — who helped me out last year, but no answer. Was she afraid to tell me someone else had beat us to it? Yikes!  So today while visiting, I made a point of asking in person.  Turns out the woman I spoke with last year is no longer working there.  Finally, the job is done and a big weight is off my mind.

Visiting with my mom is such a delightful experience.  She is compromised in ways common to people her age, but she has the greatest attitude.  Her favorite thing to say, about anything, is “Wonderful, wonderful!”  I really hope I’ll be able to face old age with even half her grace and good cheer.

As usual, when driving through Lancaster County, I got onto a photo-taking binge.  Regular readers will recognize this goose in the town of Strasburg, PA, who has different outfits for every season.  She, let’s call her Lucy Goosey, had broken out her woolens.  Highly appropriate for the cold weather we’ve been experiencing.

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No matter the weather, Amish farm wives hang out their laundry to dry:

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I was taken by a lawn blanketed with fallen ginkgo leaves and a plastic snowman (upper left corner) holding forth.  To capture the photo, I had to pull into a street quite a distance away.  I was pleasantly surprised by a woman who stopped her car and asked whether I needed a ride.  “What wonderful people out here in the country,” I thought.  My rosy-eyed view of the locals quickly changed when a man (non-Amish) came out of the house next door to this one, shouting, “What’s going on?!” with a threatening tone.  I shouted back, “I was just taking a picture.”  He didn’t look satisfied, so I added, “The leaves are so pretty,”  to which he turned and retreated.  I thought, as I high-tailed it out of there, we say “taking,” not “making” a picture for a reason.  An element of trespass is part of the act.

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My mom has a deep, longstanding love of horses.  When I got closer to home I couldn’t help snapping these photos with her in mind:

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As I was walking away, I saw this leaf on the sidewalk making a horse-shaped shadow.

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Wonderful, wonderful!

Food for Thought

Clump #80:  Wrap presents on hand.

My older sister and I have a long tradition of staying up until the wee hours of Christmas morning wrapping presents.  Hear ye, Hear ye: Let it be known that this year I started wrapping Christmas presents on November seventh.  Impossible, you say?  Well, here’s the proof:

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On many Christmas Eves of yore, my sister has bailed me out.  One year I went a little haywire at garage sales, buying and stashing away so many bargains that I was shocked and overwhelmed at the volume when I finally put them all together.  I couldn’t have done the wrapping without her.

Then there was the year our younger daughter was testing the magic of Santa Claus by hiding a little rolled up paper on which she had written difficult questions only Santa would know. I think “How do you say Merry Christmas in Chinese?” was one.  That year my sister was in charge of research while I wrapped.

Last year we were both busy wrapping while the movie Auntie Mame played on TV, starring the incomparable Rosalind Russell.

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I love Auntie Mame’s motto: “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!”

Sometimes when coming up with gift ideas, my mind is like a hamster running round and round on its wheel, never making any progress.  In recent years I’ve often done this while thinking of gifts for our young nieces and nephews.  The older they get, the harder it becomes to hit on a gift they might really like.  Should I give similar gifts to both sisters?  Will one like the other one’s gift better?  Will their male cousin think it is too baby-ish?

I’m taking Auntie Mame’s advice on this now.  If I have fun and enjoyment picking out and wrapping the gift, that’s the most I can expect.  There are no guarantees, so why sweat it?  Life is too short to get wound up about such, ultimately, trivial things.

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Rather than meager worries, I choose a banquet of abundant joy.

The Wild Side

Clump #77:  Order Christmas present.

In a recent post, I sent out an email plea to family members for gift ideas.  As of this minute, I’ve received three replies, with one very specific idea.  Instead of putting it off until, say, the item is sold out during the Christmas crush, I did something very different for me: I ordered it.  So there.  Done.  Take that!  I feel like a cowgirl, blowing off the smoke from her pistols and twirling them back into their holsters.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been seeing and hearing so many tributes to the musician Lou Reed since his recent death.  It’s as if everyone wants to prove a connection to him to up their cool factor.  I’m no different, as I remember when Take a Walk on the Wild Side was playing on the radio, just singing with the song made me feel a little less geeky.  And I needed that badly!

I read that he said of the song, “I always thought it would be fun to introduce people to characters they maybe hadn’t met before, or hadn’t wanted to meet.”

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I was really moved by the letter his wife, performance artist, Laurie Anderson, made public, below.

“To our neighbors:

What a beautiful fall! Everything shimmering and golden and all that incredible soft light. Water surrounding us.

Lou and I have spent a lot of time here in the past few years, and even though we’re city people this is our spiritual home.

Last week I promised Lou to get him out of the hospital and come home to Springs. And we made it!

Lou was a tai chi master and spent his last days here being happy and dazzled by the beauty and power and softness of nature. He died on Sunday morning looking at the trees and doing the famous 21 form of tai chi with just his musician hands moving through the air.

Lou was a prince and a fighter and I know his songs of the pain and beauty in the world will fill many people with the incredible joy he felt for life. Long live the beauty that comes down and through and onto all of us.

— Laurie Anderson
his loving wife and eternal friend”

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Time Is Money

Clump #76: Donate foreign currency and research time-consuming present idea.

One clump I had left over from clearing out my parents’ things was a box filled with foreign currency, unspent from various trips abroad.  I did a little research into where to take it, but found no good answer.  Most of the money was from pre-euro days, so I ended up thinking it probably wasn’t worth the trouble.  But how could I throw away money?  Bad Feng Shui, for sure.

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Then yesterday at my younger daughter’s Family Weekend, I spotted this collection box in the study abroad office area:

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Problem solved.

Today I remembered a gift idea that is not easily bought or ordered.  I have considered it for the past few years, but haven’t had the time to pursue it when the idea would resurface during the fevered rush of December. “D’oh!”  Let’s just say that I started the wheels in motion today … while the leaves are still on the trees …

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And the pumpkin is still on the doorstep …

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Which gives me a warm, happy glow inside.