Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas 2011 - A "Post"-Mortem

The one thing that I should have asked Santa for, didn’t ask him for, and consequently didn’t get was more time.  Since I became the family Christmas hostess after Brother A tore out my mother’s oven years ago and never replaced and my former sister-in-law quit the job (she always hated it anyway), from the 23rd of December on, Christmas is just one flurry of shopping, decorating, cleaning and cooking.

I’m proud to say I not only got the decorating done far ahead of the 23rd but even had all, or most of, the presents wrapped.  Still, there was much to do and no time for blogging after the 23rd.  There’s always that person that you nearly forgot – in this case, my nephew’s girlfriend.  They’re both mechanical engineering grad students, so I got her a Rubik’s Cube.  My nephew became instantly addicted to it, the annoyance of the original recipient.

As unemployment is in my crystal ball for 2012, I was told not to buy any presents at all.  Bah humbug to that!  But I did keep the price range down below $10, for the most part and near to it for the exceptions.  The only truly expensive present was the Second World War set by Winston Churchill and that had been an accident.  You have to watch very carefully when you’re ordering from a site like Amazon.com.  Sometimes the quantities can duplicate on you, as it did in this case.  I would have returned, however it’s been my habit to periodically give my nephew a book or books for Christmas.

One year I gave him the Lord of the Rings.  I forget what other books I might have given him.  He was very impressed with the set.  He’d harbored some very strange ideas about Adolf Hitler, which the first 100 pages of the Second World War should permanently dispel.

Big Brother was displeased with the two very minor gifts I gave him – a Yankees Santa hat and an aluminum wallet.  He didn’t want me to give him anything at all.  But I said bah-humbug to that, too.  The hat was a gag.  The wallet was to protect the money he works so hard for.  Thieves have figured out ways to scan your credits right in your wallet.  The aluminum wallet is supposed to thwart this current chicanery.  He’ll set it aside for now but one day he’ll be sorry.  He and his gal friend spend a lot of time at the malls.  His luck will run out and then he’ll be glad for my gift.

Mama was pleased with her Victorian Etiquette handbook, which she knew about in advance.  I also gave her a videotaped version of John Wayne in The Alamo.  This did not please her, even though I told her it was a leftover from about 20 years, a film I just never got around to watching.  The VHS machines went out of vogue before I could watch it and so it just sat there gathering dust.

Younger brother got an LED headlamp for his caveman activities.  The best and funniest gifts, though, were for The Nephew.  I gave him an eyeglass drinking straw, that is a straw in the shape of eyeglasses.  This thing works best with a colored drink so you could watch as it swirls around the drinker’s eyes and then down the hatch.  So much fun for a mere $5.  You don’t have to go into debt to have a memorable, merry Christmas.  His girlfriend was delighted with her game of Chinese checkers.  A friend feared she might be insulted.  Even though I hadn’t met her yet, my intuition told me she’d either laugh at the notion of Chinese checkers, a game they didn’t play in China (like Chinese food, which is very different from what the Chinese really eat) or she’d be very honored, having played the game in her native land from where it originated it.  The second guess was the correct one.  This bit of happiness was a real bargain at $2.50 from Wal-Mart.

Even the traditional World Almanacs were cheaper, coming as they did over Amazon.com, with free shipping.  I always provide my own gift from my younger brother as he’s working hard but struggling financially.  There was a beautiful rose clock on sale at K-Mart for half-price, $15.  My mother scowled and wanted to know if I could return it.  I explained it was Brother A’s gift to me and how inexpensive it was.  Still, she was angry, but Brother A, God bless him, came to my defense.  I bought it because I had a set of beautiful rose lamps on my piano, but I knocked one of them over and broke it.   The rose clock will sit in its place (although the clock will be more firmly secured than the lamp was).

I have a very special reason for treasuring watches and clocks, which I will not get into at this point.  I would ask my mother for Mrs. Piersson, our ancient, miniature grandfather clock, but being clumsy, I allowed wealthier Brother B to take stewardship of it.

I was probably too extravagant in my purchase of DVDs.  I make no apologies for my book collection; the books are for the purpose of furthering my education.  As I ordered the last set of DVDs I even said to Santa, “What am I doing?!  I shouldn’t be doing this.”  But something whispered back that it would be all right.  He was right.  Between my mother and others, I received a considerable amount of cash that will take care of the DVDs.

They may seem like an extravagance to most people.  However, I don’t buy very much at all in the way of clothes, except what is necessary to be presentable.  I don’t buy fancy dresses, shoes, jewelry, or pocketbooks.  My cellar is filled with my former sister-in-law’s expensive pocketbooks.  I have absolutely no use for any of them.  Should my brother and his current gal pal decide on matrimony, I will give them all to her as a wedding present.  She’s a typical female female.  She loves shopping at malls, as most women do.

I don’t love shopping.  I don’t care about clothes, I cut and dye my own hair (to my family’s dismay) and I haven’t worn a pair of earrings in at least five years.  The last time I wore pumps, my feet swelled up for about 48 hours.  I do wear perfume but I have enough to last another ten years, at least.

According Adam Smith, being economical is a matter of spending your money on one thing rather than another.  Sooner or later, you will have to spend it.  I anticipate that my biggest future economic problem will be medical bills.  Food has about as much of a hold on me as pocketbooks do.  I never eat out restaurants, not even fast food restaurants.

So if my one passion or vice is movies, what of it?  I consider spending $100 on one – one, mind you – pocketbook, as much of a waste as 10 or 20 DVDs.  Frequently, I haunt the discount bins at Wal-Mart and K-Mart, and look for bargains on the Internet.  Only my earliest purchases were costly, made when I was more secure of my position.  Most of my collection is within the $5 to $10 range. 
This year, the additions were Christmas movies.  There isn’t really a great variety on Netflix and the broadcast stations hardly seemed to be aware that it was Christmas.  Most people are content to rent a movie online.  Companies can and do go out of business, though.  One day, those Christmas may not be there.  They might even be banned and I didn’t want to get caught short.

Besides, next Christmas, I’d like to do a Christmas movie countdown on this blog, if the world doesn’t end first.  I wasn’t sure there were enough to cover the subject, but it turns out there are.  You won’t believe how many versions of A Christmas Carol were produced.

Anyway, that was Christmas at our house.  Many thanks to Santa Claus for making my DVD wish come true.



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