Tuesday, December 25, 2007

What gifts!

This Christmas marked a first-ever for me. I did not have one single present to open. Not one. Nada.

With a tight budget due to the NY trip for surgery, we decided not to really do the whole "presents" thing this year. Anyway, I got several presents before Christmas (our 34th anniversary was the 22nd) including 2 electric stoves that look like wood stoves, one for each end of the house.

Visiting the local dollar store, I found around ten nice little gifts for my husband to open. I always figure that the experience is about the "opening" of a gift, the surprise, and that can be provided quite inexpensively. I found nifty screwdrivers and Allen wrenches, work gloves and a motorcycle magazine. Just little morsels, little tastes of a gift-filled Christmas.

Alas, my husband just does not have the imagination to believe that a dorky, little 99-cent doodad would be worth wrapping up and gifting to anyone at this holiday, and I knew that from the get-go. As I said, we've been married 34 years. But I anticipated a box of stuff would arrive from my mother....and probably one from our son...so I wanted to add to the experience by buying those little "nothings" for my husband. Those expected boxes did not arrive, but I wasn't shocked about that, it's pretty expected and you get used to it when you live across the country from your family.

Last night, Christmas Eve, we had a wonderful time. After dark, we loaded up the dog and went for a drive around our rural town to look at holiday decorations. We stopped at Dairy Queen right before it closed to get a hot fudge sundae to share, me spooning soft-serve ice cream and chocolate sauce into my guy's mouth as he drove. As we headed east, we saw the best decoration of all: a huge, golden moon was coming up over the hills! It was incredibly beautiful!

When we got home, I played Santa and, picking up the little wrapped presents from under the tree with my reacher-grabber tool (remember, I'm not supposed to be bending over), I'd hand them one by one to my husband. Even the dog got two wrapped gifts of rawhide chew-toys. Pete felt bad, he said, because I had nothing to open, but I was completely okay with it. And I was very happy because it was a fun watching him open those "made in China" trinkets, and I had wonderful gifts already, the stoves and the two lamps I'd picked out for our anniversary.

Today, after an enchanting night's sleep with the electric stove glowing in our bedroom, the day turned out to be perfect! Let me tell you how.

First, I didn't wake up in a lot of pain. I slept til 8:30! My husband then made us pancakes and bacon, a real Vermont breakfast, from the gift set sent to us from my sister who lives in VT. It was delicious and I almost forgot to mention the REAL VT. maple syrup!

I checked my email and received a really nice letter from our past employer in CA, the one who owns the ranch we left last March. It was such a heart-felt letter and let us know that we were missed. It meant a lot to both of us.

Next, our son called from California to visit and we had a great visit. He is doing so well.

Then, we watched "A Christmas Story" on TV. You know, the one where Ralphie dreams of a Red Ryder BB gun, the one with a compass in the stock? Once that was over, we took off for a drive, down through the Columbia Gorge to look at the weather because it is predicted for there to be snow in the Gorge, a unique event, I take it, from the tone of the Portland channel's weatherman.

We ended up going to the Roadhouse Restaurant which had a nice crowd of people out enjoying a Christmas meal without all the work of cooking and cleaning. We joined them for a tasty turkey meal with all the fixings. My husband and I shared a big platter of food, later topping it off with a slice of real pumpkin pie!

On the way home, driving down Hanging Rock Road and, as if on cue, it began to lightly snow. YAY!

Back at the house, I called my Mom to wish her a Merry Christmas and we talked for over an hour. Snow continued to fall and covered the bare ground outside. All in all, it was the perfect Christmas and I marveled at my blessings and NOT ONE of them had to do with a present, or even the process of opening one and the grand surprise factor!

Go figure!

Merry Christmas, gentle readers.

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