Saturday, December 24, 2011

December 24: Pretty in Pink and PUPPIES!

December 24 Reverb Broads prompt:
Name your top 5 best holiday gifts given or received. Who gave it to you? Who were you giving to? Why was it memorable? via me

Two glasses of wine and a cup of creamy seafood bisque are making writing this prompt rather challenging tonight. The combination of cream and booze is drowsy-making. I'm going to attempt to push through, you know, because it's Christmas Eve and I would feel guilty for skipping a writing day again and no one wants to feel guilty at the holidays. 

So many of my most memorable gifts are from childhood. Those long childhood weeks before Christmas when all you can think is whether Santa will bring you what you've dreamt of, the anticipation, the hope, the magic, it's all so intense and exciting and thrilling.  

In 1981 I had dreams of Pretty in Pink Barbie, in her more than twenty glamourous outfits, pink, sparkly, fur lined, complete with shiny jewelry and high heels. I was desperate for that doll and when I finally received her from Santa that year I was giddy with joy. I slept with her every night. She was perfect and blonde and shiny until I made the mistake of washing and then styling her long ponytail with some very sharp scissors. Her reign of beauty ended that day in the downward spiral of a botched haircut. I hid her away in shame after that and she still lives in my basement, locked up in her case, waiting for the day when she can be played with again. A sad ending for Pretty in Pink. But when we were together it was perfect.

Another favorite childhood gift was the lovely wooden dollhouse that my parents built and decorated for me, complete with carpet, wallpaper, furniture and a porcelain family with painted rosy cheeks. It was sunny yellow, with white gingerbread trim and a shingled roof. It is also in the basement just waiting for some little kids to make up elaborate stories inside its cozy wooden walls.

But the best gift I've received so far has been my little Scotty dog, MacDonald Wuffer Sands. Joe surprised me at Thanksgiving eight years ago with an early Christmas present, a cuddly tiny black wriggling puppy, pink nosed, little lapping tongue. He's wonderful and stubborn and adds so much fun and barking to our lives. 

Joe is an excellent gift giver like his mother. He takes a sincere pleasure in buying gifts with the recipient in mind, not just gifts that he likes. He is so good at it that I can easily think of many thoughtful creative gifts he's given me. But I'm not as good at it. Part of it is that Joe is just harder to shop for, but I think one of the best gifts I've ever given him was for his thirtieth birthday, not Christmas. I emailed our closest friends and family, asking for their all time favorite or current favorite songs, two from each person, and then compiled them into CD and a book with photos and quotes from each person. It's a great list and we both still love to listen to it, and I managed to surprise Joe. This rarely happens. I think he liked it. Every year I strive to come up with something equally good. Six years later still not there yet, but I'm working on it.

The last gift that I think of most often around Christmas isn't so much about the gift itself, but the hunt to find the gift. When I was seven my parents bought me the record of the movie soundtrack to Annie. I loved those songs and sang them all the time after seeing the movie, but instead of just picking it up from under the tree and unwrapping it, I had to find it first. Elaborate clues and a race around the house to finally track down that elusive record made the whole thing so much more exciting and playful than any old plain gift. That hunt all through the rooms, looking in closets, under beds, in cabinets, and finally finding Daddy Warbucks and Annie and her friends waiting for me at the end of my search was kind of magical. I think my parents did a bang up job of not only spoiling my brother and I with generous gifts, but they made it extra fun too. I think I could have received a pack of tube socks at the end of that scavenger hunt and I would have been equally happy. And that's the whole point of gift giving for me. Finding things that will put a smile on someone else's face and making little kids work for their toys!

Most photos courtesy of Joe Sands, except for the one of Joe, courtesy of the lovely Bethany and Pretty in Pink's glamour shot via, who also reminded me of Sea Wees dolls that I loved to play with in the bathtub as a little kid. Baby mermaids for the win.

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