Thursday, December 11, 2008

When Packaging is Everything...

Last night I attended what for me, was the social engagement of the season - that being the annual Woman’s Club (at my church) Christmas party. I was told ahead of time to bring an inexpensive ornament ($5-$10) for the annual gift exchange. Although I knew they made a game out of it with lots of stealing of each other’s packages, the thought never occurred to me to “tart up” my offering. Instead, due to time restrictions, I quickly slapped a little wrapping paper around my gingerbread house and was good to go.

When I arrived at the party and saw the beautifully wrapped packages, my first thought was to shove my “Charlie Brown” package to the bottom of my purse and tell people I forgot to bring an ornament. However, against my better judgment, I decided just to swallow my pride and discreetly drop my package into the pile.

Not surprisingly, no one chose my gift when it was their turn to pick. Can you blame them though? Which would you rather have – a tiny little ornament that looked like it was wrapped by a child, or a package that would have made Martha Stewart proud?

In my own defense, at least my package was environmentally friendly using only the minimum amount of wrapping paper with no extra accoutrements to end up in a landfill.

When it was my turn to choose a package, I felt morally obligated to take my own, if for no other reason that I felt sorry for it. My table mates tried to make me feel better by saying, “Good things come in small packages – like a diamond ring!” Later after we were all comparing our ornaments, I got just the briefest of recognition. Apparently the more feminine the ornament, the bigger the response. I knew I should have sprung for the peacock feather ornament (but I think it was over budget)!

Next year I’ll be ready. I’ll buy the fanciest ornament and have it professionally gift wrapped – maybe I’ll even put it in a Tiffany’s box! My package will put all the others to shame. (argh! I hate it when I get competitive!)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Top Ten Memorable Moments in 2008

After reading Rick Steves' Top Ten Memorable Travel Moments, it inspired me to compile my own list. The reason they're not numbered chronologically, is because I thought I'd list them in the order in which I thought of them, and then add numbers so you could see the order in which the events actually occurred.

3) Seeing a Broadway play (“A Chorus Line”) in NYC
4) Visiting Liverpool (home of the Beatles)
1) Getting snowed in at the beginning of March!
2) Seeing “The Police” in concert at Nationwide Arena
7) Having our power out for 3½ days in September!
5) Attending 2 funerals & celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary all in the same week!
10)Seeing the Rockettes at Nationwide Arena
9) Seeing the election returns and discovering that Barack Obama had won
6) Attending my 20th (Madison) High School reunion
8) Visiting Kent State University on Homecoming wknd 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008

Memorable Christmas Presents...

For some reason, most of my memorable gifts have been birthday presents, but thinking real hard, I seem to recall a few noteworthy Christmas presents I’ve received, some of which I still have.

My first tape recorder

I was maybe 11 or so when I received this gift from my favorite uncle (Russ). I remember skimming the writing on the box and thinking it was like a blender or something, until I slowed down and read it properly. That was probably my first love affair with technology as I taped bits of all my favorite TV programs with reckless abandon, and am slightly embarrassed to say I still have most of those original cassettes as well as the tape recorder.

My Betsy McCall Fashion Designer Desk

This was a hand-me-down from a friend of my grandmother’s, but I didn’t mind. Even though I was never very interested in fashion, I always enjoyed creative pursuits, so this was right up my ally. I carefully placed a sheet of recycled paper (brought home from my dad’s company) on top of the tissue paper templates, plugged in the desk, grabbed a pencil or pen, and traced lot of funky fashions onto Betsy’s patiently posed body.

Sadly, some years later (quite a few in fact) I discovered the bulb needed replacing and I carelessly replaced it with too high a wattage causing the plastic to melt and leave somewhat of a crater on the surface of the desk. I’m not entirely sure what happened to it after that, but have since bought a replacement on E-bay. This time I’ll take much better care of it!

My “Mandy” doll

Unlike my sister, I never had many (if any?) big (i.e. life size) dolls. Most of mine were either doll house size or perhaps six to eight inches high, so when I received “Mandy,” I was pleasantly surprised to have something a bit bigger. I think the doll was from my Grandma Goff (my dad’s mother) and I might have been about 9 or 10 years old.

“Mandy” came with white tights, a pretty pink knee length dress and shoes of some sort I guess (not sure where they are now).

My mom also made me clothes for her, some of which I still have (whichever ones the mice didn’t chew holes in while stored in my parent’s attic).

By the way, “Mandy” wasn’t a name I selected for her, like the infamous Cabbage Patch dolls, she was assigned that name. She’s similar in size to an American Girl doll and I often wonder if she would fit into any of their clothes. Maybe I should bring her over and my niece and I could have a swap session with her American Girl doll (which she received for Christmas last year).

These days I take more pleasure in the giving rather than the receiving, and usually try to make an effort to get something for each person that shows I know them. Some people are definitely easier than others, but that’s a whole other column!