Five Things Friday: December 20, 2013

Things I’ve lost in the last month:

1. Any real motivation to write. It’s still what I want to do all day, if I could, and I have lots of ideas and stuff, but during any free time I have I really, really don’t want to.

2. An unfortunate amount of the Christmas spirit that started showing up in November. Even before Thanksgiving this year, I was feeling excited about Christmas and even listened to Christmas music a little bit. I’m not sure what happened exactly. Got too stressed out? Mood ruined by the fact that buses all lose their damn minds when there’s weather? Either way… bah humbug.

I’m still listening to Christmas music and wearing lots of sparkly things and red things (pretty much like always…) in an attempt to feel more Christmas-y. It probably doesn’t help that I don’t go anywhere that actually has Christmas decorations.

3. Healthy habits. I have only wanted to eat things that are smothered in cheese lately. Sandwiches with cheese, pizza, mac and cheese, cheeseburgers… etc. It doesn’t help that all the vegetables I really like have become ridiculously expensive lately (although that’s my fault, because I go to Whole Foods a lot. It’s not my fault it’s the only grocery store that I actually pass on the way home from work.) I also haven’t been working out as much. Why? Because I’m lazy, or some other reason that I don’t really feel like explaining. So let’s just go with lazy.

4. One of my gloves. But then I found it.

5. My ability to sing. Granted, I don’t know how long it’s been gone because I don’t really sing anymore. But I tried to sing some Christmas carols last week, and I sounded like–well, someone who can’t sing. Basically. This is the result of ten years of voice lessons, then four years without them.

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What Your Christmas Gift Says About Me

I’ve been thinking a lot about my frustrations and lifestyle choices. Most of them have to do with how I want to be seen by the world: thoughtful, stylish, interesting, smart… whatever. Put-together. I generally don’t feel like any of those things, so it can be a challenge. But before I end up getting off-topic (so early in the post!), I should introduce the actual topic: giving gifts, and how the things we choose to give make us appear to the giftee. (I apologize for use of the word “giftee” just now. I thought “receiver” sounded weird and “recipient” too pretentious, for some reason.)

Rarely have I done much exchanging Christmas gifts with friends, and when I have it’s never an expected part of our relationship. It’s generally been an I’ll get you something if I have money and see something you’d like/have time and energy to make something situation. So I don’t buy a lot of presents. Immediate family and one or two friends only. I would love to buy gifts for all my friends, but I don’t have enough money or energy to do so.

If you’re giving gifts en masse, it becomes impossible to give each person a thoughtful item (or collection of thoughtful items). I mean, unless you started in June… so you have to get little animal finger puppets or small boxes of chocolate for everyone and hope you don’t have any friends who hate finger puppets or chocolate. As I mentioned, this really hasn’t been a problem for me, so I’m just guessing that this is how it would go.

The people I usually shop for get good presents. Sometimes they’re really good, because I found this perfect thing, or I remembered something they really wanted. Other times it’s not quite as special but still something they’d appreciate. Occasionally, it’s something that was really given minimal effort (in terms of the actual search) because I thought for weeks and couldn’t come up with any ideas.

It’s easy to buy nice, personal gifts for people you know really well. You understand their tastes and what might actually be useful to them. You see stuff you know they’d like all the time. Often, this is because their tastes overlap with yours–but not always. Like, you don’t like the grass-scented Yankee Candle Company mini-candle, but it’s your friend’s (weird) favorite, so you get them one. However, if you’re close enough to know that they have five of these at home, that’s not what you buy them.

Often, you will have a certain gift in mind because the person has mentioned to you at least once, but more likely twice or more, that they want this thing. If they mention it more than once, there’s a good chance they haven’t bought it for themselves. So you can get this thing they’ve specifically told you they want, which means there’s a good chance they’ll like the thing, and as a bonus you’ve proved that you listen to them.

Then there are those times when you don’t have a specific thing in mind, and when you try to think of something the person will definitely appreciate, you realize you don’t know them that well after all. You know about some things they like, but you really aren’t sure what they want or need. You don’t want to get them something dumb or silly, because that’s not special. So you make do with something you know they like and hope they’ll appreciate the thought enough even if they never use the gift you get them.

When I give someone a gift, I want it to give the impression that I actually care. That I took the time to understand something about them and that I’m intuitive, creative, clever, sweet, etc. I want to give a gift that is among those gifts they’re really happy they received (at least for a few weeks. I guess if they forget about it after that, I won’t be offended). I want to impress.

If I do give you a box of chocolate, it’s not because I couldn’t think of anything better. I actually think chocolate is a great present, for someone who really likes chocolate. But unless it’s this special kind of chocolate that I had from this place once and I haven’t been able to find it since, it’s not really as personal. Almost everyone likes chocolate. You see what I mean?

I don’t know how much my gifts will impress this year. Most likely not that much. And of course I preemptively feel inadequate and selfish because of that. But I guess every year can’t be THE gift year. I can only hope the people I’m giving to can see that there was thought and love behind the choice.

Five Things Friday: December 6, 2013

I just remembered about this… I thought I might just do it tomorrow morning, but then I realized I wasn’t going to do it, most likely, if I waited, and I can’t miss the first five things of December! I am really into Christmas this year, much more than last year… I think that I was a bit depressed last December, most of the month, or something. I was all artistic and thoughtful in my last post (which you should read if you haven’t yet), so right now I’m just going to vomit some words through my keyboard (gross), because it can be very hard for me to be thoughtful when I want to sleep. It’s almost 1, and I work a “normal” 9-5 schedule, so I shouldn’t have to explain that I’m tired. Isn’t everyone tired on Friday night? 

Five things I must do this December: 

1) Make eggnog cupcakes. I plan to do this tomorrow, that is, Saturday. Check out my food/life blog, linked on the sidebar (I think), for a post about that. I will almost certainly make one. 

2) Film three Christmas-related videos for my youtube channel. I did make one, but we’ll see how the rest of the month goes. I’m trying to stay motivated to actually do things. 

3) Continue writing in some sort of semi-regular fashion. Instead of never. I have a nice idea for a short story that will be wintery. It’s a simple concept so I think it should be pretty easy to write a draft that I am willing to let people read…

4) Eat many vegetables: this is not me going on a diet or denying myself anything. This is in fact me craving healthy food and wanting to nourish my body with fresh foods, nutrients, vitamins, etc. 

5) Work hard, but also relax. 

Bonus: Bettie Page Reveals All, a new documentary film, is going to be at the Coolidge theater next weekend. I really want to see it, but it’s a late movie, so it will depend on how my schedule works out in general, and how tired I am.

7) Sleep more, but wake up on time.