Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘gift giving

Productive Weekend

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It is a good time of year to get a lot done over a weekend when it happens to be the second to last weekend before Christmas. I had a number of goals in mind that I wanted to accomplish in the blink of days between commuting to the day-job.

It helped to have the weather warm up at just the right time. Our thermometer reached the 40s(F) both Saturday and Sunday. I was able to move one of my projects outside into the glorious sunshine.

I went from the concrete of the shop to the asphalt outside. Just look at everything I accomplished!

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I’m afraid that all projects underway during the first three weeks of December are under a media blackout. Progress will be represented only by material removed, as shown above.

Cyndie was even more productive than I was, but I can’t show any pictures of her projects, either. Not until after Christmas.

It’s the best time of the year!

“Oh by golly, have a holly jolly Christmas…”

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Written by johnwhays

December 17, 2018 at 7:00 am

Going Tropical

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From the series of previous posts reviewing my history with Cyndie and her family, I hoped to provide a more complete background for what led to this year’s adventure to the Dominican Republic over Christmas.

After years of growing families, the Friswold Christmas spectacle of the classic gift exchange had expanded almost to the point we couldn’t fit all the gifts in one room. This was despite an effort long ago to rein things in by drawing individual names for the adults giving gifts.

I witnessed Cyndie and her brothers making an effort to encourage moderation, but it’s hard to restrain the love of giving. It was difficult to detect much evidence of change.

They were also putting energy and imagination toward devising ways to reduce the (mostly self-imposed) burden on Marie of hosting to the nines for hours on end, three or four days in a row. That effort was also producing mixed results.

Then, along came the year 2017, which just happened to include several significant milestones for Fred and Marie. They both celebrated 80th birthdays, certainly a benchmark for which they deserve the reasonable courtesy of reduced stress and aggravation in their days.

Equally noteworthy is this year’s marking of their 60th wedding anniversary. With these special events dealt to their hands, the two cunning card players set about making the big play.

Obviously, they had been counting cards all along, because they knew what was going to be dealt in advance. We found out a full year ago that Fred and Marie wanted to bring the whole clan to the Dominican Republic for Christmas this year.

No names will be drawn, no food needs to be planned or prepared, no setting up of tables and chairs, no world-class flower arrangements will need to be flown from Boston by Carlos, no dishes will need to be done for hours on end.

We will have the gift of a full week of each other’s company in the warmth of sun, sand, palm trees, and ocean breezes.

The whole clan, together again like a decade ago on Hilton Head Island.

I have no concept of what they could possibly dream up that could top this ten years from now, in celebration of their 70th anniversary.

What a family.

To Fred and Marie:

You have done the world a great service, raising these four amazing individuals with so much love.

You’ve given me an amazing opportunity to be included as family. You have blessed all your grandchildren with bountiful and limitless love.

Here’s hoping your dreams for this tropical Christmas were fulfilled, and that you enjoy many more days as stress-free as this week hopefully was for you both.

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December Again

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Every year around this time, I notice a spike in overall number of visitors to “Relative Something” who are searching the term “December Wishes” which I coincidentally used in 2010 for the title of a post. After I re-read that post again the other day, and even though it sounds about 6 years old to me now, I’ve decided it deserves some fresh visibility. 

(Full disclosure: I haven’t been “under-indulging” so much anymore. For the last few years I’ve returned to providing family a genuine updated online wish list.)

At the very least, the Pomplamoose song is worth another listen…

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December has arrived. It is the time of year when requests are made for our wish lists. What do I wish for? I wish for world peace. I wish my neighbors would never, ever, ever use their leaf blowers. I wish it wasn’t possible to hear the sounds made by a human jaw chewing food in an otherwise silent room. I wish my lungs weren’t asthmatic. But those things aren’t what the circle of family who draw names for a Christmas gift-giving exchange would like to see on my list.

They want stuff that can be purchased.

I don’t mean to be difficult, …not that I haven’t been in the past. I did resist for a time and neglect to provide any such list. I also have listed items like: shirts, socks, and underwear. Who wouldn’t benefit by having new underwear? There has also been a period of time when I gave in and put some pretty significant treasures on the list that I wouldn’t buy for myself. Since something was going to be purchased, I figured it may as well be something that I would actually use.

I also took advantage of one of those online shopping sites that allow you to save a wish list to allow your family and friends to just click and purchase. It’s like registering for wedding gifts. Look at what we have allowed technology to do to us!

A while ago, I came across that site where I had created a list and noticed there were things still on it that I didn’t even remember selecting. I had obviously been living comfortably enough without the items. It occurred to me that the only reason the items made it on the list in the first place was because I saw them while searching the site.

That is like the phrase that I am guilty of using too often regarding food. “I am fond of see food.” See food, eat food.

I could look at any number of shopping sites and discover things to put on a wish list. Yet, if I didn’t see these things, I wouldn’t even know I wanted them. Making a list, in and of itself, engenders the wish. See things, want things.pomplamoose-alwaysintheseason

I still haven’t gotten around to making full use of so many things I already have. I truly don’t need anything more. This year, I am seeking to UNDER-indulge. I’m choosing, see charity, give charity. I saw the invitation to “give a goat” on the 2009 video of the Christmas song, “Always in the Season” by Pomplamoose.

Now, that is what I want on my wish list. I want people to choose a meaningful gift to give me and help children and families around the world receive training and animal gifts that help them become self-reliant.heiferintrntl

My December wish this year is for people to consider Heifer International in their gift giving plans.

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Written by johnwhays

December 2, 2016 at 7:00 am

Truly Best

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DSCN4237eOur Christmas celebrations this year have provided a wonderful addition to years of fabulous Christmases with Cyndie’s family. Now that we live in Wisconsin, the routine for us has settled into a pattern of driving back and forth to Edina on Christmas eve, and then two more times on Christmas day. This allows us to participate in spectacular meals, and all that comes with them, as well as tend to the care of Delilah and our horses back home.

I’m used to driving that route, so it doesn’t bother me. The trouble comes in accounting for that extra hour that always separates us from our intended destination. It becomes a struggle to get out of the house on time to arrive at the celebration by the appointed hour.

Then we need to watch the clock while enjoying the time of our lives so that we don’t end up forcing our dog to wait too long without us at home. Sure wish we could just ask Scotty to beam us home. We always want to stay longer at the social gathering, but without it resulting in such a late return to our home an hour away.

I enjoyed two particular “bests” yesterday that deserve specific mention. Cyndie’s mother, Marie, is a master hostess who prepares world-class meals for large numbers of guests. The traditional family dinner of beef tenderloin on Christmas day is one of my favorites. It is magical, because no matter what variations may occur every year, it is always the best meal I have ever had.

This year, it was even better than that.

Honestly, I struggle to justify enjoying such gastronomical pleasure. The dessert which followed the best-dinner-ever included a cranberry cake with a caramel sauce topping that always tastes so amazing, it should be recognized as a dangerous weapon and require a license to prepare.

I received some very nice gifts from very generous people this Christmas, but there is one that immediately claimed my heart as the best possible thing I opened. We draw names for a gift exchange in Cyndie’s family, and this year, my fellow in-law, Sara, wife of Cyndie’s brother, Ben, picked my name out of the hat.

DSCN4243eShe nailed the precise art of matching a gift to the recipient, and steeped it in her own joy while creating it. Sara made a wood-burned image of our Wintervale logo on a beautiful pine board. I find it absolutely beautiful to look at. It smells good, too!

It is the best gift.

I just want to look at it again and again. It is one of a kind, made by Sara’s hands, and intended specifically for me. What a precious thing.

I had a very merry Christmas.

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Written by johnwhays

December 26, 2015 at 10:42 am

Gift Remembered

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My sister, Mary, commented that she likes when I write about my early years growing up in our fabulous family. I always feel a little unsure about writing my version of the past for an audience that includes others who were present at the time and enough older than me that they probably were able to form more dependable memories of the actual events.

ChristmasinHouseI have an impression of our holiday gift giving involving a certain amount of shenanigans. I’m sure my siblings will be able to clarify, but I have a vague recollection of someone needing to follow a trail of yarn that had been fiendishly “spider-webbed” around the furnishings of the room, to get to the prize at the end. Maybe that was just a party game. We had a fair amount of those events, too.

monkees-pisces-aquarius-capricorn-jonesThere is one gift I remember in particular that I was fooled by, that went on to become one of my prized possessions. I’m guessing it was the Christmas of 1967, because November of that year is when the album, “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones Ltd.” was released by The Monkees.

That year I would have been 8-years-old. For a kid that age, the usual assumption is: the bigger the box, the better the present. Well, the length and width of this box were big enough to fit a record album, but it was deep enough to hold something much larger. It was thrilling. I unwrapped the present, removed the cover, and found nothing but tissue paper inside the box.

They had taped the album to the cover of the box. I think it was a little frustrating for me, but that was definitely diminished by the excellence of the gift. I don’t recall actually putting the album on the old hi-fi, but I remember studying the front and back cover of the album while listening to the songs, over and over.

I still have the 3rd cut on the second side memorized. It’s the lead-in to the song “Pleasant Valley Sunday” and it is titled, “Peter Percival Patterson’s Pet Pig Porky.”

Peter Percival Patterson’s pet pig Porky ate so much pie that do you know what he did? He popped.

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Written by johnwhays

December 12, 2014 at 7:00 am