‘Tis the season! Every year I say I’m NOT going to get caught up in the commercialism of
Christmas. When the kids were little and I overindulged them, as most of America does every year – and then we pay off the credit cards all year long and start over next Christmas. One year I said, “Enough!”
We started a new tradition of traveling to Costa Rica and bringing gifts to the poor kids in the rural villages who really appreciated (and needed) them. My kids got the gift of the trip and the gift of giving. That lasted for a few years.
People like to give – it makes us feel good. My favorite is anonymous giving such as playing “Secret Santa” say in an office setting. I used to hide out watching after placing a colorfully wrapped gift on someone’s desk. The key is to never admit you gave it – just keep them guessing and wondering. Such fun!
It’s actually harder to find inexpensive, yet meaningful gifts than to run up the credit card. I look for bargains. I shop at Ross on Tuesdays, senior discount day. This year I found fabulous candles! Yes, I could get a bunch of those and send them to my special sister-friends. I bought a beautiful sparkly turquoise one for my wonderful friend in Arizona. I wrapped it, packaged it and trotted off to the Post Office. The line was out the door, but the self-serve kiosk was empty. I raced over there, placed my perfectly wrapped package on the scale and chose the cheapest postal rate – after all, it was still early December. Plenty of time. I accepted the weight by pressing yes on the screen and waited for the postage options. And the cheapest one was $16.65! Noooo. I will not spend triple the amount of the gift to mail this. No, I refuse. I will light the candle in my own home in her honor and find something lighter to send her, like a scarf or hanky. Oh, but wait, she has about a thousand scarves. Yes, she’s a girl who has everything.
So, when my friend, Kathy, who typically makes English Toffee every year asked if I wanted to make a batch, I had the answer; I would send British Linda some English Toffee! Perfect. I would pack a lightweight tin with some pieces of the candy which wouldn’t weigh much and send it in a special Christmas mailer so it would look pretty and festive without costing a lot.
I bubble-wrapped the tin of candy. I shoved it into the red mailer and addressed the label with my favorite pen that writes in real ink. I sealed it. Rats! I forgot to put the card in – I figured I could save the fifty-cent postage that way. I debated and decided I could carefully break into the envelope and slip the card in. I flipped the package over and tried to unseal the flap. I was in a rush and didn’t realize the ink on the address label wasn’t dry. Smeared. Darn. Oh well, it was mostly the zip code that smeared, I could just re-write it above.
Now to re-seal the envelope. Not good. Well, I’ll just add clear tape, no problem. It wasn’t pretty, but I just had to get this done, so off I went to the Post Office. Again. And again, the line was long, the self-serve empty. $8.95?! No! That’s too much. I’m not in a hurry, there’s plenty of time. So, I got to the window where, surely, they must have a cheaper rate. I apologized to the clerk for my messy package, and we had a good laugh about it. I was hoping to distract him into A: accepting my ridiculous package and B: giving me a cheaper rate.
He taped over the address so it didn’t smear again, and cheerfully announced it would be $8.95 to mail. The English Toffee inside is priceless – made with love and mailed with a fun adventure. I shall light the candle in Linda’s honor on Christmas and bask in the warmth of our friendship.
Merry Christmas. Happy Chanukah.