Monday, January 12, 2009

Giving the Gift They Want

Have you caught your breath yet now that Christmas is over? The rush of the hectic shopping season means that we all probably forget at least one important person on our list, or couldn't find the right gift. If you were smart, you gave at least some of the people on your list a gift card.

You might think of that as an impersonal gift, but it doesn't have to be viewed that way. With the wide array of available gift cards from a variety of specialty stores, you can hone in on the interests of the recipient and then let them choose the gift that they really want.

Best of all, they can get even more by waiting and shopping after Christmas to take advantage of the January sales. Your gift goes a lot further and you haven't wasted money on a gift that had to be returned. Did you know that 40% of Americans return at least one Christmas gift?

And for anyone who still deserves a special remembrance this season, whether it's the babysitter or Aunt Rose, it's not too late to give gift cards. They will still be in time for the recipient to get great deals and after-season markdowns and you will have the satisfaction of knowing your gift is well-received. Gift cards are also a great choice for birthdays, graduations and nearly any other celebration you can think of as well as saving you time and hassle.

Stirring Memory and Desire

Years ago there was a television series called "The Wonder Years". It chronicled the life experiences of a middle-school age boy whose main goal was to win the heart of his first love. The show was often charming, but after a time it wore on my nerves, mainly because there was nearly constant voice-over narrative that was highly detailed. The truth is, no one could remember that much about each individual day of his life. If we could, it would probably drive us crazy.

Memory is a strange thing. I don't have such moment to moment memories as the kid in The Wonder Years, but what memories I do have, I like to believe are my own. Yet recently, I have twice been present to hear stories of my life told by other family members as if these events happened to them. In each case, I am sure these are my memories and not theirs, so when did they appropriate them?

I have heard it said that if one hears a story enough times, they may incorporate it so that after a while, it seems like a memory rather than just a story of their childhood told to them by others. Perhaps this is what has happened. Or perhaps there were only so many stories to go around and my mother told us all the same ones, so that we all think these things happened to us.

I didn't bother to stop the stories or question the storytellers about these memories. I simply sat in a confused state and pondered. Would I upset some delicate balance in their lives by challenging what they believe was an event that shaped their futures?

This blog is often filled with memories, it is its very purpose. To consider that I may have only imagined some life-changing occurrence might cause the very foundation of my life to crumble. So I will continue to believe that my memory is intact and accurate and feel compassion for the other members of my family who are clearly starting to grow old and forgetful.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Salute to the T-Shirt

Okay, it's been a long time since I was a teenager, but still... I don't remember that being 14 as being so fraught with drama. The Girl, however, finds drama in nearly every situation of daily life.

Christmas has passed, and only now do I realize that I completely missed on the perfect Christmas present for her.

Not only does it perfectly describe her teen personality, she would definitely wear it as all teens love those really cool t shirts.

Now, I am not completely out of the loop. I remember being young and shopping those specialty stores for those fresh t shirts with popular logos or captions that said it all. T-shirts are a staple of any wardrobe and have been since the sixties. T shirts are a part of the culture, a way of expressing individuality and proclaiming everything from political beliefs to personal philosophies.

There are funny t shirts, thought-provoking t shirts, even green t-shirts for the environmentally conscious. T shirts can be worn to amuse, show support or persuade others to consider a fresh viewpoint. In so many ways and for so many reasons, t-shirts are the most popular form of self-expression found in America today.

So, let's salute the purest form of American fashion - the t-shirt.

A Cluttered Lesson

I read a story today about a man who died of dehydration in his own home. Seems he kept ten years of garbage inside his house, stacked ten feet to the ceiling and had an elaborate system of tunnels going through the stacks but had become disoriented and lost.

My mother was a packrat. She not only kept old things for years, she even bought new things, wrapped them in plastic and kept them without using them for years. Although she put off having gall bladder surgery for nearly 30 years, she still purchased silk pajamas and exquisite, quilted bedjackets "for when I go to the hospital". In the end, she had laparoscopy which entailed only one night's stay rather than the extended stay that the old-fashioned procedure required. When she passed on, there were still elegant nightwear items, pressed and neatly folded in plastic bags tucked into her bureau.

I confess to having my own pack rat tendencies, especially when it comes to clothing. I realize that this may be just one trait of my mother's that I share, although I can't say if it's heredity or learned behavior. Like my mother, I usually fill twice as many closets and drawers with clothing than the rest of the family put together. But it's not just clothing, I keep knick knacks, books, unopened mail, and stacks of useless items - some of which I don't even like.

However, the story of the man who expired in his home because he couldn't navigate his way through the ten years of garbage and clutter he had collected, has decided me. I don't want to become the crazy old lady who lives amongst garbage bags who is found several weeks after her death only because neighbors noticed a strange smell. There would be the inevitable interviews with policemen who would describe a scene of horror and filth. I might even show up on the Drudge Report or one of those Offbeat News sites.

I am embarking on my new life, striving to free myself of years of useless items, unattractive knick-knacks, yard sale bargains that sit unused in closets and clothes I not only never wear, but have never worn. It's a weeding-out process, and not everything goes with the first review. I mean, I might need some of this stuff... one day...