Christmas presents

I kind of gave up on Christmas presents over the past handful or so of years.

You see, Christmas is about the story of Jesus the Christ, not about giving a present to everyone we’re ‘supposed’ to like and be related to… and I feel wrong pulling a holiday so far away from its foundation.

Plus, this whole consumerism thing has really gone a bit out of whack in recent years, and it might just make me sick, if I were to think about how much waste is caused, first) in terms of physical items, and then, second) in terms of mental effort.

We work so hard to give gifts to people, and we usually fail at bringing them the joy we were hoping to share with them – we want them to feel our love, but why must our love be so shallow and know them so poorly that we gift them ‘crap’ they never really liked and now feel obligated to use?

So, my goal has been to find ways to share my love with the world instead… I’m not so sure I’ve done a great job of achieving that goal, but I’ve been working on it.

Plus, for gift-giving, I do that normally in life – when there is a gift I want to give to someone, I do my best to make that happen, whenever it arises… I don’t wait ten more months for the excuse of Christmas.

Someone once told me that I must be an awesome friend, because I gave him a book and out of nowhere, shortly after we’d really met – just because our conversation had led me to believe he would really love reading the book.

I kind of shrugged it off at the time, I think, but I’ve come to see how valuable that is nowadays, where people do often give because they feel obligated to give, and not because there is something they truly want to share with the individual.

Anyway, the whole reason I brought all of this up, is because I was given a check this evening, as a Christmas present.

I had already said that I didn’t need it – separately to both parties involved – and that I didn’t expect anything to be given to me – and I’ve said the latter for years, more or less – … and yet the check was given me in double the amount from years past.

It made me want to cry with frustration as I examined the check (and I did actually tear up from that a bit)… I didn’t know what to do about it.

After a quick but genuine text chat with my brother, I mentally accepted the money, finally able to see that this was their way of showing that they cared about me.

Plus, it gives me an opportunity to do something great with the money that they likely never would have done with it – it doesn’t have to become just plain groceries for me alone… it is, instead, an opportunity for good.

I was hesitant to reject the money, because I didn’t want to leave them feeling rejected by me, nor did it make any sense whatsoever to pass up money being given rather freely to me at the present point in my life (remember the grad school and total uncertainty situation).

And yet, I felt utterly pathetic for having been given money in the first place – like sad charity, is how it felt for me.

But it worked out, thanks to my brother’s wonderful alternative approach:

Hannah, you should accept the gifts people give you. They want you to have them

Be grateful you have people in your life that have those resources

Use the money for something good, be empowered by it. Don’t pity yourself, instead, make its value exponential

Also, consider how much more good you can do with that money vs what they’d do with it. A transfer of wealth is much more than a gift

And I can see that now the way he saw it.

The funny part about it is that I had said that I felt similarly about a gift he, my brother, had just given me, too.

I had known that my view was not so good nor healthy, and I was glad to have a new way to see it all, as well as something beautiful to go do with these gifts given to me.

Post-a-day 2018

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Fashionably late

Tonight, after all of our own family activities and general gay atmosphere hanging out, my mom and I headed to my high school boyfriend’s family’s Christmas dessert gathering/social.

I sent him a message when we actually were getting close to leaving, but received to reply, and so I called him when we actually were leaving my brothers’ dad’s house.

The party was slowing down, but we could for sure come hang with him, if everyone else was gone, he said… and so I had him verify with his mom that it was still okay for us to come over (because we live over half an hour away), and she said to come on!

And so we went… and his dad’s dad was practically walking out the door as we arrived, the final guest at the gathering.

And yet, the whole family was there to greet us happily with hugs and cheer, and then hung out with us for what turned out to be about two and a half hours of good and real chat time.

We finally walked out the door, and we were shocked to find it was just shy of one in the morning(!).

But it had truly felt like we’d received a sort of VIP treatment for the party – when other guests are present, conversations are cut short/off regularly, and often only last a minute or three at most, and often less time with the host of a party… and yet we spent two and a half hours with direct conversation with the hosts of the party.

How often does that happen during a party?

Quite rarely for me, really… it’s always only if I arrive really early or stay to the end that I get the one-on-one time with the party host.

And yet we had full attention the entire time we were there – it was certainly like special treatment for this party!

I definitely feel like this puts a whole new level/dimension to being “fashionably late” to events. 😛

Post-a-day 2018

Will they get along?(!!!)

Imagine bringing your partner home to meet your family over Christmas.

… for the first time after everyone knows that you even have a partner.

Now, imagine getting extremely sick, fever and emergency room visit and all, and being buggered up in bed the entire time after the first day and a half.

Let’s hope your partner likes your family and vice versa, because they’re spending all the time together, and without you.

How terrifying that could be, but also how true a test of the match.

So far, we really like him, so it’s all good on our end… he even survived and participated well in game night fun with us all… super bonus for us.

We’ll just have to see if he ever comes back… ;P

Post-a-day 2018

English…?!

Whenever I tell people that my master’s program is for a master’s in English, I’m always surprised at their reactions – or their lack thereof, really.

I do not see myself as an ‘English type’.

My family and I (on my mom’s side, that is) are really rather scientific and math-y about things, and we are total nerds and dorks about the things that interest us… and we also do loads of research on things just about all the time.

If we love something, we also are semi-experts on it – that’s how much we look into things with our research and how much we love learning.

Tonight, I happened to mention that I have read 45 books so far this year (It was relevant, but I don’t presently recall why.).

My friend said that I was and English type, because those were all [insert super famous, depressing-topic novels from around the world that have at least a version in English], and I made a face, cutting her off with, “No, not that crap.”

We both halted at what I had just said, and saw that I had unconsciously called what is considered some of the most important things in the world to an ‘English type’ crap.

I wasn’t intending to be rude to those books or those people, but it was straight from the heart and head, what I said – I love to read, but just not much of that stuff that everybody seems to say is necessary and kind of the only part for caring about literature.

I had even given an ‘ugh‘ of distaste at an overheard conversation earlier on, in which someone was naming some of those famous novels (thereby making me mentally gag).

Just as anyone likes one thing over another, I like certain books and book genres and styles over others – it isn’t that I see no value in the famous novels – many of them certainly are the foundation for modern-day styles and rhythms and topics on a regular basis – , but it is that I see value in other novels, too… more value than the English buffs ever seem to give them.

That’s why one teacher wasn’t sure what to do about my thesis idea – there is no teacher at our school who has a background that is entirely relevant to the author and books I’ve selected to research and discuss as valuable, because they are too new and too radical in the world of English buffs and, therefore, degrees in English.

That’s okay – I’m part of the tiny minority of caucasians at a black university… I’m accustomed to doing things differently and making them work.

Post-a-day 2018

P.S. Is it weird to anyone else that we’re almost finished with 2018 already??…. I mean, it feels like the end of September right now, maybe early October…

Table Troubles

We spent a good chunk of today at or around the international airport, but it was actually a really good day.  One of the best parts was the delightful misunderstanding at lunchtime.

Now, to understand the significance of part of it, you must first know what happened yesterday.  My mom, my stepdad, my stepsister and her boyfriend, and I went to lunch at a restaurant in The Galleria.  My mom and stepdad went in first, while we kids went to look at a Lamborghini just outside the doors.  When we filed into the restaurant, we saw them heading up the stairs, and followed.  They told us up top that the waitress downstairs had told them to pick a seat anywhere, and had specifically mentioned that whether upstairs or downstairs was of no importance – it was open seating.

However, a waitress was rather snotty with us when we mentioned this upstairs, after asking kindly if a certain table could be wiped down before we sat down at it.  She declared that we needed to check in with the hostess (but would not help us find the hostess, even when we asked kindly) and that there was a wait time, and we could not pick our own seats.

About two minutes after finding the hostess, we were seated at the table we had originally found (and then requested).  And the guy setting the table was unfathomably slow, leaving us all standing, watching, as he finished setting the flatware.  (Not sure why anyone was bringing us to a table that wasn’t ready yet, but it just made us laugh at how ridiculous it all was.)

We were quite nice to everyone, keeping always in mind the fact that it was a holiday and that we were grateful for their being there.  A good handful of the people at this place seemed just ready to throw things at people for the simple defiant act of existing.  Nonetheless, we got our table and, eventually, food and all, and it was a good time all-in-all.

Now, fast forward to today, lunchtime.  We found a Mexican place that was near the airport – and I mean Mexican, not Tex-Mex, and not non-Mexicans who claim to have Mexican food and whatnots – and was open.  My stepdad went in first, while we all parked the car.  My mom, my stepsister and her boyfriend, and I all walked in in a row as another family was leaving, excusing ourselves in Spanish as we bumped paths and all (I meant it, when I called it a Mexican place.).  As I walked in behind my mom, I saw my stepdad standing next to a table just two over from the door.  He said that the lady told him that we could sit there, but he was going to the bathroom now.

So, we all slide into the booth and begin discussing whether there might be bleach in the cleaner (because the table was still damp from being cleaned and smelled a bit of bleach, but my mom had on black long-sleeves, and so wanted to be cautious about touching the table, if there were bleach in the cleaner), when a lady comes to our table and, in English, apologizes, but this table is already for another family.  Could we please wait just a minute over here?

I turned to my mom, and asked her what their deal was with tables right now, and she could hardly fathom it herself, giving a genuine I have no idea.  So, we stand up, the boyfriend telling the lady in Spanish not to worry and that we were completely okay.  We wait to the side for perhaps 45 seconds.  Then, the lady tells us that, okay, you can sit in this booth (the one just next to where we had sat down, and that was almost exactly the same).  So, we sit, and comment how it is drier that the other table was.  I sniff the table, and my stepsister fusses at me not to do so, but I explain that I was merely smelling for bleach, and she laughs.

My stepdad eventually returns, someone comes and takes our drinks orders (in Spanish, of course), and then the original lady comes to take our drink orders.  I notice passively that no one ever sat at the table next to ours.  We tell her that someone already had done so, but we are ready to make our food orders, however (all in Spanish, of course).  Then, before taking our food order, as she looks at all of us, she says something surprising.

Apparently, since she spoke to my stepdad in Spanish originally, it was a non-compute that the rest of us would be the family with him.  Though the boyfriend is from Mexico, he has blue eyes.  I am dirty blonde and blue-eyed, and my mom is sort of a brown-haired, brown-eyed, older version of me.  My stepsister just kind of blended in with us, since we were the majority look of our little group.  So, we were the foreigners, so to speak, and clearly weren’t the family of the original guy who’d asked for the table a few minutes ago.  She didn’t explain all of that, of course.  We deduced that.  But she did say (in Spanish) that she had thought that we did not belong to the gentleman to whom she had given the table, and so she told us that the table was taken by someone else.  But, upon seeing that that same gentleman was at the new table, she realized her mistake.  So, she apologized for it a few times, and we all enjoyed a good laugh at the whole thing.

No one ever ended up sitting at the table behind us, until the last few minutes that we were there, when a single man sat down to wait for someone or something briefly (so it seemed).

So, those were our adventures with table miscommunications this week.

Post-a-day 2017

A different kind of Christmas gift-giving, I suppose

I’m not sure when or exactly how I stopped the regular giving of Christmas presents, but it feels like it has been a long and slow progression from standard present-giving to no present-giving at all.  This is not to say that I do not give love to my loved ones – I certainly do.  It is just that I give my love in the form of concern, interest, and time.  I plan out things for us to do together, and I get us to go do them together.  I find a way to get myself halfway across the country to be with the family members who have been on their own in recent years, missing the family.  And I make things like this seem like they are only natural, and why would anyone not do such a thing.  Not as a way to show off or anything, of course, but because they are just so easy to me.  Kind of like the ends justifying the effort, and therefore making the effort almost no strain at all.

And so far as giving physical presents are concerned, I do still give those from time to time in life.  However, I give them, because there I something I want to give to someone, there is something I want to do for someone.  It usually is not tied to any particular holiday or day.  It is tied merely to the fact that I care about the person, and there is something I want to give to him/her.  I re-made an acquaintance a few years ago, and, after only two meet-ups and discussions, I left a present at the person’s front door in secret.  It was a book I felt sure this person would love, and that I wanted this person to be able to experience, after our discussions together.  (Turns out that it was a total hit.) I’m not sure we ever saw one another again, due to various circumstances, but that was okay.  That is life sometimes.  The point was that I gave the present freely and genuinely, and expected and wished for nothing in return.  My only hope was that the book be enjoyed, and it was.

For me, that kind of thing is normal.  I give, because I want to give, and there usually is a something specific that I want to give.  At Christmas, I used to feel a need to give to everyone I know.  And I would be almost frustrated at being unable to do such a thing.  I guess this is how that situation has evolved over recent years, with last year, alone in Japan and with very little income, being a rather large factor in how Christmas looks this year for me.  When I accepted that it really wouldn’t work to do most anything physical for people, I suddenly noticed how I didn’t really like the whole situation in the first place.

It’s like how I made strong efforts to figure out what kind of scarf a friend of mine would use, and made one for him for Christmas.  And he gave me some socks from home, that were socks for a type of shoe that I never even wear, and were a color that I definitely don’t even own (and on purpose).  We definitely discussed this all after the fact, and even laughed about it.  We just had totally different attitudes toward the gift-giving.  I had thought about giving him a good scarf a long time before Christmas.  Due to my laziness mostly, I believe, I didn’t end up making it until the week before Christmas, using Christmas as my back-up plan for giving him the scarf (kind of a no later than this date thing for giving him the scarf, because i might never do it otherwise).  But I had found out material and color and style and everything that would be appropriate and most helpful for his scarf.  He, on the other hand, had wanted to give me a Christmas present, and so looked for something that would be suitable for a Christmas present between new friends.  His gift was totally appropriate for such standards.  Quite frankly, though, spending time together would have been much more valuable to and appreciated by me than a pair of socks that have nothing to do with me.  Plus, it’s a better way of life, being less wasteful with our resources.  😛

Anyway, this all just has to do with the fact that I don’t like doing the mandatory or obligatory presents for holidays, and might even dislike it.  Yes, I like that it gives a specific opportunity to consider something special to give to another.  No, I don’t like how often we give/receive things no one seems to want or to find useful in life in our society right now.  And so I have let go of participating in it.  I think my dad’s side of the family will struggle for at least a few more years with the idea, still wondering why they should give to me, if I am not giving to them – hint: I have told them that I do not need anything given to me for Christmas or my birthday, but, if they desperately want to give me something, they can give me a pony.  I think a pony is the only thing for which I have asked for my birthday since I was around 13 or 14.  Not that I expect one, by any means, but it would be spectacular to have a pony given to me for my birthday.  Otherwise, there’s nothing that comes to mind without feeling wasteful in the world.

It kind of takes away a bit of the feeling of Christmas, not exchanging presents with everyone.  However, I currently am happy without the presents – all I ever really want is time together with the ones I love.  The presents are almost upsetting to me, considering my background with stuff and feeling incredibly wasteful if I ever get rid of anything.  I usually prefer receiving nothing, so I don’t have to feel bad at either not using it or at wanting to give it away or throw it away, when its time has really come to an end.

Post-a-day 2017