For those of us who have to mail the majority of our gifts, Christmas arrives earlier than ever. I got the last few things for my sweet little Chicago niece, Brooke (an enormous bouncing sort of rubber pig called a Rody -- adorable), and nephew, Max (red pleather cowboy backpack and matching rain boots) and happily settled in for the wrapping part. This year I bought a huge $25 roll of this turquoise wrapping paper with mod white sort-of squares, and I'll tell you, it is kind of nice to just know that everything is going to follow the same plan: blue paper, red-stripey string, little vintage stationery-supply sticker with recipient's name. There was no room to write "Love, Andy and Alicia" but something tells me there won't be a lot of doubt who these are from. My non-traditional Christmas-color habit is longstanding and . . . well-known and . . . tolerated . . . I think. I can't remember what I did last year, but the year before it was creamy powder-pink paper over a doily snowflake with black ribbon and handmade name tag, sort of Paris Christmas. I liked that one. We've had a mostly candy-colored theme for decorations in the house for the past few years, and I like that, too.
Andy's in charge of gifts for the men and his contribution is a cookbook of his favorite recipes (with help from the aforementioned Big Oven), written in his own inimitable narrative style and complete with a four-CD collection of music to listen to while cooking each meal: early U2 for the corned beef and cabbage St. Paddy's Day dinner, Built to Spill for the "Honeymoon in Lake Geneva" breakfast. This one starts, "First, put in CD and start some coffee. Alicia likes no-pulp OJ with two cubes. In a large frying pan, cook the bacon. . . ." Cute, no?
People have been coming in the store all day today a bit stressed out. It seems that the hectic part of the season is fast upon us, and that's kind of tough for everyone. I'm relentlessly strict with myself about getting things finished early, and I do force the hubby to share in the labor. I know the alternative is me, swearing my head off and sweating, and that's just not . . . in the spirit, somehow. I like to watch my Hallmark Channel Christmas movies while laying on the couch in a state of total lethargy, and once these blue babies are in the mail, you know I'll be TiVo-ing Boyfriend for Christmas with a cat on my lap and a Kahlua hot chocolate. And then I'll kick the cat off and really settle in.