Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Little Things: After Christmas Version

Sharon got me thinking about Christmas presents. I got some from friends, spread out over days before and after Christmas, some arriving by mail and some in baskets and across the dinner table, complete with happy smiles; some in my fantastic Christmas stocking, which is the highlight of the entire holiday, filled with little things opened one by one by one on Christmas morning: and some under-the-tree wrapped and larger gifts including a couple of sweaters, a camesol, jewelry, a dozen pair of much needed socks and underwear, and the plushiest most beautiful bathrobe I will ever have.

But without question, it is the little things that meant the most and that I will remember. In some way or another, these are the gifts that create and honor the special connections we have with eachother--some large, some small--between the giver and the receiver, between family and friends and coworkers and neighbors.

As I'm prone to do, I wonder if this post will turn out to be a giant bore. With apologies in advance, if that is the case here are some of the 'little things' that made my Christmas presents so nice:

Hey, I can't tell you how or why this photo is both upside down and of poor quality. But since I am afraid of Blogger, it will stay as it is. Jessica gave me a CD of the entire first year of Grey's Anatomy. She is convinced I am missing a very important and wonderful experience by not being a fan of the show already. So one or several nights this winter, jb and I will watch this tv show from its start. Jessica thinks we'll be hooked by the time we finish.

This is an awesome present from jb. I can't wait to read it. I'm knee-deep in on-the-job training to become a writer and this book is just what I need. It's amazing how people who love me know about my needs almost instinctively. I hope I do the same for them sometimes.

A luggage tag! I am on airplanes more than occasionally and every time I am at the counter at the last minute frantically filling out the airline tag. Now I have my own plastic designer identification. Thank you, jb, for helping me simplify.

From Jessica: two fabulous books that clearly reflect my interests and passions. I LOVE that this kid of mine knows me. I just love it.

I love gifts like these. Both will find their way to our Sunday morning breakfast table here and there until they are gone. I always feel close to what really matters when I have local homemade food around me.

My son-in-law Mike put these in jb's stocking. He is now an official contributor of and important person in what has always been our heart-felt Christmas mornings and state-of the-art stuffed stockings.

We've noticed on walks that many people are afraid of Stella when they see her. Jess said her red collar added to the impression she is a tough dog. So Stella had a new collar under the tree. I've only been out with her twice since her fashion image was altered, but hmmm, people do seem friendlier......

Another poor quality shot, so let me tell you this is a bottle of vanilla extract from Williams and Sonoma. Jess left this in my stocking and I love it. It might be enough to get me baking for no reason.

The full effect of these postage stamps is lost because of my poor photo skills. This is from my fantastic friend and the incredible artist of this incredible painting, Ces, who has given me such joy and delight from the simple act of licking a stamp!

This gift is very special. It was given to me by a young woman and mother I am helping in her efforts to protect her six children and stablize her family. At the time I told her this would be my favorite gift of all this Christmas, and it is.
My friend Clara picked this up during her time in Palestine and filled it for me with two bracelets, one pin, and a pinky ring. Clara and her husband and one of my best friends, Mike, have spent the last 19 Christmas Eves with jb and me. We have traditions, and memories, and the silent steady comfort of a loving friendship.

This is not my gift. It was given to jb by Jessica, who was with us in an antique store when jb first saw these three maple boxes, piled one atop another. We passed them by at the time, but Jess remembered and went back and purchased them. They match the two 1950's maple chairs from my parents' cellar. jb and I are going to put our special photos and documents and mementos and letters in these boxes.

One of the nicest women in the world, a high school teacher whose teenage students adore her, rents our place in Provincetown and sent us this handmade card from Bali. This is someone I wish I could spend more time with. I don't know if it will or can happen, but I'm so glad to know her.

Oooh. Squeal. My beloved son-in-law slipped this major present into my stocking. It will cover at least three meals for two at my beloved Mr. Sushi in Brookline Mass. We order the same 3 non-raw sushi every time: California, Shrimp Tempura, and Chicken Terriaki Maki Rolls. Mr. Sushi is a common place with nothing that distinguishes it besides for the fact that the sushi is to die for. When we walk in, which is now barely once a month since we've moved from the Boston area, the waiter greets us warmly and then asks, "How is Jess-i-ka?" The place is as good as home.

Yesterday jb and I celebrated with our friend Liz. She gave us each this bracelet, which is engraved with words like 'Love" and "Humility" and "Goodness" and "Peace". The proceeds from the sale of these bracelets go to a local women's shelter. Liz smiled when she told us she bought one for herself also, "so the three of us would always be the Yaya Sisterhood".

Here's an early Christmas present to myself. I bought a brimming box of glass suncatchers at an auction for $10. It turned out there were well over 50 pieces of unique and wonderful glass. There were also a dozen colored glass little fish. I gave alot of the loot away but I hung these and other pieces in our front hallway. You can see them from outside and they have a nice glow to them.

To prove my point, hopefully, that the little things matter, here's how things look when they are not little, but instead muddled into a mess of a whole. THIS is not the Christmas I treasure. It is only when I separate what truly matters to me from the great material mess that is Christmas that the gifts themselves, and the love and care behind them, shine forth.

Thank you to the people who care about and love me. There is nothing--NOTHING--that matters more. I thank god and all the universe that I am wise enough to know that.


  1. What a lot of very, very nice presents you got for Christmas - I hope you enjoy them all fully over the coming year. :)

  2. I don't know KJ. I am excluding my present from this comment. I don't think these are little things. The thought that come into the selection of these gifts seem like a lot. I have seen how men shop and how they come up with ideas and sometimes so much better than mine. I think your Mike is so wonderful! You seem to be surrounded by friends who really appreciate and love you and I think that is a very big deal!

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  4. chief, thank you. best to you too.

    ces, yes, the thought is big but the gift need not be. the smallest things usually mean the most to me.
    as for friends, i am surrounded by wonderful people, not the least of which is you!

  5. How could you ever think this could be a bore? This is beautiful and the imperfect photos make it more so.

    The little snippets to go with each little thing you describe...they're each their own little story.

    What a warm, merry Christmas you obviously had.

  6. What wonderful, loving gifties! You are surrounded by such good folks, KJ, which makes sense ... your good heart collects other good hearts around it. xo

  7. Yup kj. I'm back online. You got such gorgeous gifts for Christmas. I especially like the bracelet your friend gave you. It's beautiful.

    And I liked the pictures. At least you have pics -- our camera conked out on us this Christmas so I have no pictures to show.

  8. KJ I cannot believe it is you, although I knew it as soon as I started to read your blog, I trailed way to the end to check it out - and there it was: Erlangen, Herzogenaurach, Army Education Center...can we correspond properly? I mean, with both of us in the conversation, although I have enjoyed reading your posts and especially seeing your extraordinarily beautiful daughter and family. I don't know how to do this blogging thing. Meg Gardner