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Posts Tagged ‘generous impulses’

It seems like so many people around me are having babies lately! My husband’s assistant! My daughter’s former teacher! And another former teacher! Babies everywhere! It’s very exciting – there are few things more delightful than a hotly anticipated baby. 

Recently, the mom of one of Carla’s classmates had a new baby. This was the fifth baby in that family. Since Carla is classmates with one of the other children, we have known the family for several years now. It’s a lovely family – all the children are charming, well-behaved, and polite, everyone is always dressed and groomed beautifully. I always give a little wistful sigh when I see the mom – who is both physically beautiful and a truly kind, generous person – and her little row of gorgeous kids, because she has a parenting gift that I do not share. Well. Perhaps that is why I have the one child and she has five. 

Some of the other moms from Carla’s school got together to do a meal train for this family when the new baby arrived. I love a meal train. Food is one of my love languages, for one thing. Plus, I love it when a family gives you a lot of very specific details about how best to nourish them. Plus plus, I kind of love the challenge of making a meal that I have never made/would never make for my family. It’s kind of like trying on someone else’s life for a minute.

(Me being me, of course, meal trains are also opportunities for a lot of stress. Since I don’t normally make this kind of meal, how do I know if it’s GOOD? What if they have a very specific idea of what Good X is supposed to be like, and I do it wrong? Am I making enough food? Have I included enough options for people who don’t like the main course? Etc. etc.) 

When there is a new baby, I always want to give a gift. And I had the same urge for this new baby. I ended up not getting the baby a gift, but that really happened as a result of a bunch of tangled thinking and then running out of time, not out of lack of desire. And so I really want to know what you would get for a fifth baby (or a third baby, or an eighth, or whatever baby is being added to a family of More Than Two).

Here are my thought tangles:

  1. This family probably already has EVERYTHING they need. This is Baby 5, and Baby 4 is still pretty much a baby. What gift could I give them that they don’t already have?
  2. But this is a New! Baby! It’s always nice to have something special and specific for a particular kiddo.
  3. Usually when I give New Baby gifts, I like to give a present to the older sibling; they understand gifts while the New Baby doesn’t, plus, it helps them feel included in the celebrating. But when there are four other children in the family already… well, that starts exceeding my gift budget. Not to mention exceeding my knowledge of what to buy for kids of varying ages. 
  4. And what would I GIVE? I know that gift options and gift budgets vary widely for a lot of reasons, but it seems to me that the moms of Carla’s classmates lean toward the high-end/expensive end of the spectrum. Like… fancy children’s boutique stuff. And I feel super uncomfortable with that kind of thing because how do I know if a wooden rainbow in muted shades of grey would be a welcome gift or in any way worth $28? That kind of thing makes my generous impulse shrivel up and hide. I am much more a Cute Onesie I Spotted at Target kind of a girl, you know? And maybe that would feel… cheap to the mother? Like a last-minute “whoops I need a gift” gift rather than something I agonized over? I don’t know. 

So! That’s why I ended up making a meal and not giving a gift. I am sure – SURE – that whatever I chose would have been met with sincere gratitude and effusive thanks, because that’s what this family is like. But I opted out anyway.

I’m still wondering, though, what YOU would get for a fifth baby.

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Well, right on cue: despite my meticulous catalog of gift options and all my big plans of thwarting the inevitable onset of Stocking Stuffer Syndrome, now that we’re just under a week out from Christmas I am experiencing severe Pre-Christmas Panic that I haven’t purchased enough/the right gifts. What IS this and WHY does it happen? Especially THIS year when a) I have planned so well and so far in advance and b) I cannot do anything about it, aside from braving Target or Costco or the like during a pandemic which is a no from me dawg. Maybe focusing my anxiety energy on gift-related targets is more bearable than worrying aimlessly about Everything Else? The fact is, panic or no, IT’S TOO LATE NOW. 

Oh crumbs! I just realized I never ordered Carla a Rubik’s Cube to replace the one I broke. And glee of glees! It looks like Amazon is still confident it can ship one to me in a day (“a day”), unlike the Elsa styling head I keep fretting about, because I know she would like it, but it is TOO LATE – pretty much every version of the thing is unavailable to ship until January. INTO THE CART, RUBIK’S CUBE. There. Okay I also just bought my husband a pair of work slacks (do people say slacks anymore?) that I can pick up curbside. They were on sale. They are also very boring. Maybe too boring? Nope, TOO LATE, they are purchased. And I am hoping that the act of buying something, anything, even boring work slacks, will help allay the panic.

Let’s have some randomosity, shall we?

  • You know what it’s NOT too late for? Medicinal holiday baking. I have finally decided which holiday cookies to make! My husband found a copycat recipe for Levain Bakery’s chocolate chocolate chip cookies that we are going to bake. I think I will also make the zimtsterne, just because they are so pretty and festive. I have vague semi-plans to package some of the zimtsterne in the boxes I normally use for holiday chocolates and give them to our neighbors. Sharing the sufganiyot with our neighbor went so well, I kind of want to recapture that feeling. Unfortunately, all I’ve recaptured is the anxiety of even CONSIDERING interacting with our neighbors.
  • I haven’t tested the copycat recipe yet, but I CAN recommend the real thingLevain Bakery ships their cookies and I have been the recipient of said cookies in the past and it was delightful. Looks like it is too late to order them for Christmas, but if you ever need to send something delicious to someone in your life (that includes yourself), these are AH-MAY-ZING. They are huge and they freeze really well. 
  • In other baking news, I finally made the cranberry crumble bars I have been planning to make for over a week now. They were SO GOOD – the perfect combination of tart, gooey cranberries and lightly sweet crunchy shortbread crust with a teensy bit of very sweet lemony glaze on top. You use the same crust for the crumble on top, which sounds a little weird (to me) but is quite delicious. I sent a big plate full with my husband on Friday so he could share them with the surgical team, and he said everyone enjoyed them. Somehow I need to remember to make them next Thanksgiving because I like them better than our traditional pumpkin bars. 
  • My holiday card wall is looking a little sad, still. The cards are arriving in little drips, although one day we got a big surge of five. I hope it picks up before Christmas. I know the postal service is doing absolutely everything it can to move everyone else’s pandemic-related-panic-buying from one place to another, so I’m assuming more cards will arrive when they can. Of course it’s also possible that most people decided against cards this year – although most everyone I’ve spoken to seems to be of the “but now cards are more important than ever!!!!” perspective, so who really knows?
  • Speaking of the postal service, I finally stopped dithering and purchased gifts for the kind people who are delivering packages to our house ON THE DAILY. I saw an article about how postal workers aren’t allowed to accept cash or cash equivalents, which threw me for a loop. I have given Target and Starbucks gift cards with wild abandon in the past, so I kind of think maybe it would be okay to keep giving gift cards? Then again, KNOWING that it isn’t allowed is a different thing from blithely giving whatever I want out of innocence, so I dithered myself into complete paralysis. Until this week, when I finally decided that I could not give a gift card now that I KNEW it was prohibited. So I bought some of these little pandemic kits (which I could pick up curbside) and some fancy chocolates from a local small business and that was THAT. Practical plus yummy/treaty. Of course I am second guessing my choices now, but IT’S TOO LATE NOW. What’s done is packaged and waiting in our hall, except for the one gift we were already able to hand directly to the postal worker. Now all that’s left is to intercept the delivery people when they arrive; typically they don’t announce their presence in any way, and even if I know to listen for them they are often already back in their trucks by the time I fling open the door. What says “merry Christmas” better than a wild-eyed middle-aged woman running shrieking after your truck in her bare feet?
  • The pandemic kits I bought include one of those little no-touch door opener tool things. Do you have one of those? My husband got one from his hospital early on in the pandemic and he gave it to me. It is more useful than I anticipated, and I keep it in my purse and use it all the time. Hmmm. Maybe this would make a good stocking stuffer… This one at Amazon supposedly arrives before Christmas AND it has a little smart-screen tip you can use for credit card machines at the grocery store! 
  • This is totally not Christmas related AT ALL, but I cleaned my menorah and put that away, which is a nice if very small preview of the wonderful catharsis of putting away all the Christmas décor. We also have a menorah candle situation that annoys me. We ran out of candles on the seventh night (some people in our family can be a little too, um, enthusiastic about shoving the candles into the menorah), and I had to curbside pickup another pack of candles from Target. And now we will run out early NEXT year, too. I only hope I remember to buy extras before Hanukkah begins.
  • Also not a Christmas topic, and potentially alarming: the last two times I’ve been to the grocery store, there have been big bare spots on the taco shells shelf. And absolutely NONE of the Old El Paso regular-size taco shells. It’s all Stand and Stuff or Super Stuffer. It is perplexing. I haven’t been grabbing up big armsful of taco shells – yet – but I do grab a package every time, even if I’m not planning on tacos that week. (Although a week without tacos around here is, to be fair, rare.) I feel like I was just joking with someone about a hypothetical taco shell shortage, so perhaps I am to blame???? NEVER JOKE ABOUT TACO SHELLS, that’s the lesson here, folks. Well. Too late now.
  • This week’s haul from the grocery store included eggnog – which I like as long as it’s mixed with an equal amount of milk, otherwise it’s much too viscous – and Christmas beer, both of which are fun once-a-year things. I considered and rejected many other Christmas-specific items, including mulling spices, a stollen, and an enticing array of chocolate in Christmas shapes/colors. It is all so very tempting, though!
  • I am very tired of people in the grocery store not understanding the six-feet rule. It has been NINE MONTHS, people. There are signs everywhere, reminding us to give people plenty of space. There are regular announcements on the overhead speaker, reminding us to put six feet between ourselves and the people around us. We are all wearing masks as a big, blaring signal that THINGS ARE DIFFERENT NOW, YO. And yet, inevitably, I will be waiting patiently six feet away from a woman who is carefully evaluating every single onion in the bin so that I can grab some onions and be on my way, and some oblivious jerkface (I am assuming both the obliviousness and the jerkfacity) will squeeze in right next to her and start fondling the potatoes. In the immortal words of George Constanza, WE’RE LIVING IN A SOCIETY, and said society demands six feet between its members! 
  • As long as we are discussing things that I find pandemically perplexing: I have now gotten several emails about summer camp registration. First of all, it is December. Okay, so summer camp planning typically starts in January and I guess it’s not far enough from January for it to be an unconscionably early. But. BUT, and secondly, we are still in the midst of a pandemic. It seems kind of brazen to suggest that we start registering our kids for camps that are still many months away when we have NO IDEA what the status of the pandemic will be. Will everyone have gotten vaccines? Will the pandemic be under control? Will there be some new murder-hornet/zombie-mink-style horror to contend with? WHO KNOWS? The fact is, I am not ready to sign up for summer camp. Of course, the very fact that the camps are sending out the emails makes me a little edgy. I definitely don’t want to sign up today and send in a depost when anything could happen between now and next summer. But I also don’t want to wait until we KNOW what’s going to happen and find out IT’S TOO LATE to sign up. I can only hope that most other parents are giving these emails the ol’ squint eye and postponing thinking about it until at least March. 
  • Here is a Very Nice Thing: Carla’s last day before winter break was Friday, and the only assignment they had was to get together on Zoom and make a holiday present for their parents. I suppose that’s normal thing that teachers do with their kids before winter break, but it makes me feel especially weepy with gratitude this year because of all the extra forethought and planning it required, on top of all of the immense challenges of switching, mid-year, to an entirely new method of teaching. We owe these teachers so much. So. Much.
  • I painted my nails the other day for the first time in months. The polish is a sparkly turquoise-navy and I’m digging it. I wonder how long it will last, considering I wash my hands eight billion times a day.
  • Speaking of which, my hands are in rough shape. Unless I am super vigilant about applying hand lotion immediately after I wash my hands, they shrivel up and crack and my cuticles start peeling and there’s bleeding involved and it’s awful. I have hand lotion in the junk drawer in the kitchen, in my bathroom, and right next to my bed. I’ve had a rotation of hand creams, based on whatever is available to pick up at Target. Aveeno was my go-to lotion for most of the pandemic, but now that it’s winter, I don’t think it’s cutting it. I have Soap & Glory Hand Food by my bed, which is nice to use right before I go to sleep. But I’ve switched to O’Keefe’s Working Hands Hand Cream (this link goes to the 7 oz tube; it looks like Target only has the 3 oz size, and that is not enough hand cream) in the kitchen and in my bathroom and I think my diligence is starting to pay off.
  • My lips are a whole other situation though. It is the time of year where my normal multiple-times-daily application of Burt’s Bees lip balm is not enough to keep them smooth. I get this dry patch that I then pick at, which makes my lip bleed, and then my lips rush to repair the wound, which produces a thicker patch, which I then pick at, etc. etc. etc. until everyone is very glad indeed that I need to wear a face covering in public. What should I be putting on my lips instead? Vaseline? I see that O’Keefe’s makes a lip balm – maybe I should try that? Or this Aquaphor ointment gets good reviews. Oh! There is also a highly-rated Aquaphor balm (though it is PRICEY). What is the One True Lip Balm that will make my lips heal?
  • If you have a spouse/significant other, or if you are willing to pretend you do for this bullet point, would you find it odd if you received a gift card that was intended for both of you? Say your Aunt Sylvie sent you a Target gift card for $100 but it was made out to President and Vice President Yourname. (You are the President in this scenario.) You open it and you feel: _____ How? My husband and I have opposing views on this subject and I’m genuinely curious about others’ thoughts. 
  • My best friend from back home sent me a Friends couch ornament for Christmas. It is adorable AND it plays a quote from each character. I’m not crazy about the one for Phoebe – I’d rather hear her singing “Smelly Cat” – but it has Ross shouting “Pivot!” and Joey talking about a moo point, so overall I am very pleased with the choices. Carla loves to press the button and hear the quotes. She asked me what “pivot” means, which led to a definition plus an explanation of why Ross is yelling “pivot!” which led to watching the relevant clip on YouTube. And then I had to show her a few of my other favorite scenes, including my all-time favorite episode, which is the one where Rachel screws up the trifle. (The episode title is actually “The One Where Ross Got High.”) SO MANY great quotable moments in that episode. My favorite is when Ross and Monica’s mom says, “Rachel, no, you weren’t supposed to put beef in the trifle. It did NOT taste good.” 
  • Last-second addition to this post: I was going to schedule the post for Sunday morning and discovered that WordPress lists Sunday as the LAST DAY of the week on the calendar? What is THAT? Sunday comes FIRST! Every calendar I have ever seen orders the days from Sunday to Saturday. Yes, Monday is the first day of the work week, so it is kind of ridiculous, but this is The Way It Is Done. Even the song (to the tune of “My Darlin’ Clementine,” in case your toddler song repertoire is a little rusty) has the days in that order! Why, WordPress? What is the DEAL?

All right. That’s all I’ve got. How are you doing on this, the last Sunday before Christmas?

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For future Hanukkahs, this is my experience with making sufganiyot.

First let me say that I have never had sufganiyot before, so I had nothing against which to measure my results. I read somewhere that they are somewhere between a beignet and a donut, but I have never had a beignet, so in my head I translated “beignet” to “fritter,” which is denser than a donut. (They are also, according to Smitten Kitchen, like Polish pączki or Russian ponchiki or Italian bombolini, none of which I have had either. Clearly I need to expand my donut eating habits.)

Because I don’t like oil spattering all over my kitchen, I sought out an air fryer version. (There is still oil involved in the air fryer recipe, so it seems like it still adheres to Hanukkah tradition.)

The Spruce Eats had a recipe for air fryer sufganiyot, but the recipe didn’t work for me. Not only did it require me to scald milk (an instruction that had no additional details; I had to look up what scalding meant and then look up what temperature the milk would need to be to not kill my yeast), it also had a couple of confusing directions (do you roll the dough out to 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch thick, because the recipe stated both). Unsurprisingly, the dough refused to rise. I still air fried a few, for practice, and they LOOKED adorable but were unpleasantly dense and kind of bitter. They reminded me more of biscuits or scones (neither of which I like) than donuts. This is all to say I DO NOT recommend the Spruce recipe.

I tried a second recipe, from Tori Avey, that worked MUCH better. First of all, NO SCALDED MILK which made me feel scammed by the whole scalding milk nonsense earlier. Secondly, it has vodka in it, which I found appealing simply for its novelty. (WHY is it there? I am sure there is some reason; in fact, I’ve heard of adding vodka to pie crust to make it flakier? Like it evaporates more quickly than water and lightens the dough? I am quite possibly making this up.) Third, the dough rose very nicely; it’s possible that it could have risen more if I had left it to proof longer, but by that point I was up against the clock — I still had to make the fish and green beans and latkes. (Remember, by “make the latkes” I mean removing them from the Trader Joe’s box and baking them.)

I used a glass to cut the rounds. I might experiment, in future years, with making them slightly larger. They are very small — between two and three inches in diameter.

I used the air frying instructions from the Spruce article (except that I pre-heated the air fryer for three minutes and sprayed the inside generously with cooking spray): I put four of the dough circles into the basket, brushed them with oil, fried them for 2.5 minutes at 350 degrees, then flipped them, oiled them, and fried them for 2.5 additional minutes.

I used seedless raspberry jam for the filling. I have a little plastic squeeze bottle that was ideal for filling the donuts. I used a shish kebab skewer to puncture each little sufganiyah and then filled each one with jelly until I could feel the jelly pushing back against me; a couple of times, the jam erupted through a weakness in the meridian of the donuts, but this happened rarely. After they were filled, I sprinkled the tops with powdered sugar.

The Tory Avey batch was much lighter than the Spruce version. I really liked the texture — still a little more dense than a traditional yeasted donut, but lighter and fluffier than a scone or a fritter. The dough was slightly sweeter than the first recipe I tried, too.

I do wonder if they would have been lighter and airier if I had allowed the dough to proof a little longer? The one “issue” I had was that the jelly didn’t really FILL the inside — it made more of a little well in the center. And if the air pockets in the dough were bigger, I think that would allow for more jelly filling.

AFTER I’d made both batches, I saw recipes for sufganiyot on Smitten Kitchen and The Kitchn that are WILDLY different from what I tried, so it might be fun to give those a go in future years.

These are the perfect size for eating like three or four in a sitting.

Perhaps the BEST part of the sufganiyot experiment is that we had too many for the three of us to eat (they are better eaten when warm), so we made up a plate and took them across the street to a neighbor. Please do not mistake this easy breezy sentence for an easy breezy decision: I fretted EXTENSIVELY about it. What if the sufganiyot weren’t very good? I mean, they were good compared to the first batch, but I had never tried the real thing and maybe they were a very poor attempt. And what if my neighbor didn’t want to eat something prepared in a home kitchen during a pandemic? And what if she wasn’t Jewish? Something she said to me in the past — the exact nature of which has since exited my memory — left me with the impression that she was Jewish, but I could have misapprehended what she’d said or misremembered the conversation. Or what if she is Jewish but can’t eat gluten or sugar or is allergic to raspberries? What if she was eating dinner and we interrupted her? Ugh. So many reasons NOT to do it. But a generous impulse should be embraced and followed through!

Our neighbor is this absolutely lovely woman who has a dog Carla loves and who is sweet and patient with Carla and very friendly to me. She’s had a really hard go of it during the pandemic and yet she is supervising remote learning for her grandkids AND working full time and I just wish I could help her more. (She has nearby family, so she has not once taken me up on my offers to help.) We took over a plate and at first it went HORRIBLY. We could see lights on in the house and could hear talking, but no one answered the doorbell. I even knocked, just in case the doorbell wasn’t audible, but — despite Carla’s dismay — we decided to leave. I felt super uncomfortable: maybe they were all eating dinner together! maybe they didn’t want to answer the door during a pandemic! maybe they were purposely ignoring us! So we went back across the street.

But then, just as we were about to go into our house, we heard people leave the neighbor’s house. Carla, who was carrying the plate of donuts, rushed back over with me training awkwardly behind, my glasses suddenly COMPLETELY fogged over at that exact moment even though I had been wearing them and my mask the entire time. I felt So Awkward.

But Carla asked for our neighbor, and her family called into the house and asked her to come out. Carla handed her the plate and told her we had sufganiyot to share and asked if she celebrates Hanukkah and when our neighbor said yes, Carla said that she did, too, and our neighbor just seemed so surprised and delighted. The neighbor’s daughter told us a charming anecdote about visiting Israel during Hanukkah and seeing sufganiyot in storefronts everywhere. The grownups seemed thoroughly unbothered by our presence and our little offering, which helped me feel less awkward. (Although it would have definitely helped if I could SEE.) Carla got to pet the neighbor’s dog AND the neighbor’s daughter’s dog, which made HER day. And then we said goodby and left.

Later, our neighbor called and left me a VERY sweet voicemail, saying thank you, and assuring me the donuts were good, and expressing shock and pleasure that she wasn’t the only Jewish inhabitant of our neighborhood. The whole experience made me feel very glad I’d fought through my frets and gone ahead with the generous impulse.

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Sometimes I think one of my love languages is Buying Gifts. That’s probably not the right term but I don’t feel like walking down the hall to get the book and read it. Also, I think “love language” refers to how you prefer to be treated, not how you treat others – and I don’t particularly like receiving gifts, so maybe love language is not the right term at all.

Let’s start over:

I LIKE TO BUY GIFTS FOR PEOPLE.

However, I also possess a distinctly challenging personality trait that makes it difficult to actually BUY GIFTS FOR PEOPLE. What I’m saying is that I have severe gift-giving anxiety (undiagnosed). So what happens is I get all excited about buying someone a present… and then I get all weird and hand-wringy about it.

Here’s my normal thought process:

1. This is the perfect occasion to buy a gift for Person In My Life!

2a. Yay! I have a great idea for what to get PIML, too!

2b. Crud. I have NO IDEA what to buy.

3a. Is it too expensive? Maybe I shouldn’t get it.

3b. Nothing seems right. Maybe I shouldn’t get anything.

4. No! Don’t be like that! Allow yourself to give in to your positive intention!

5a. You’re totally right! The gift is in my shopping cart!

5b. You’re totally right! Spend way too much time finding the perfect gift and then finally adding it to my shopping cart!

6. Wait a second. What if PIML doesn’t like the gift?

7. What if PIML feels uncomfortable that I got a gift at all? Maybe it’s for a weird occasion or the PIML doesn’t think we’re that close or the gift itself is weird?

8. What if PIML thinks the gift is too expensive?

9. What if PIML thinks the gift is too cheap?

10. What if PIML feels beholden to me after receiving a gift? Or now feels obligated to buy ME a gift?

11. What if this changes my relationship with PIML?

12. Okay, there’s no real need to buy the gift right this second. Just take a step back and think about it.

13. ** time passes **

14. Crap. Now it is way too late to send a gift.

I would like to say, in a non-blaming way, that my husband plays a role in this process as well. He is usually of the opinion, “You don’t NEED to get a gift for that person!” Which is true! Always! No one needs a gift! But then I start doubting whether I should get a gift for that person, if it’s weird or overstepping or whatever (see Steps 6-11) above. When the gift is from both of us, that also adds a wrinkle to the gift-giving process, because then I feel like I should consult with my husband about what the gift should be, how much it should cost, etc. And that takes time, and some back and forth, and so Step 13 stretches out and out and out until we crash right into Step 14.

As long as I’m confessing things, I might as well let you know that sometimes I actually DO purchase the gift. And THEN I go through Steps 6-11. And the gift just sits there, forever and ever. The same can be said for cards. I buy them, then never send them. WHYYYYYYY.

This is a trait that I really dislike about myself. It is a variation on one of my other Most Reviled Personal Traits, which is procrastination. It has prevented me, in the past, from sending wedding gifts and baby gifts and sympathy cards that I really SHOULD HAVE. Missed opportunities that probably made a negative impression on or caused hurt feelings for the would-be recipient. Which causes me anxiety as well, plus embarrassment and guilt. I have dabbled with the idea of being A Person Who Doesn’t Send Gifts, which is a fine, perfectly reasonable person to be. But that hasn’t really STUCK.

So! Brisk clap! I am trying to combat my gift-giving anxiety. And this summer, I have had some success, I think!

  • Wedding gift for my cousin and her new wife
  • High school graduation present for my cousin
  • College graduation present for my other cousin
  • Birthday present for my daughter’s best friend

Birthday gift 1

I think it was this one. May have been something similar but not exact, though. (image from amazon.com)

  • Birthday present for another of my daughter’s friends

Birthday gift 2

Again, I can’t remember if it was exactly this one or not. (image from amazon.com)

  • Cute his and hers barware for a friend’s engagement

Engagement Gift

I do wish they were the same size/type of glass because it kind of seems like it’s insinuating that the woman should drink LESS than the man, although I admit I don’t know whether they hold the same amount of liquid that’s what it SEEMS to be saying, judgmental much glasses? but WHATEVER. They were cute. My friend and her fiancé drink beer. The end. (image from katespade.com)

  • Baby present plus older brother present for a friend’s new baby girl

(clothing image from nordstrom.com; book and Melissa & Doug puzzle set images from amazon.com)

  • Baby present plus older sister present for another friend’s new baby boy

FOX IN SUNGLASSES SWEATER. (clothing images from nordstrom.com; book and princess castle tent images from amazon.com)

  • Interesting bookmark for a friend

Bookmark

The one I got is NOT this one, but very similar. (image from mitercraft.com)

  • Housewarming gift for a friend

Housewarming Gift

Not exactly this, but CANDLES from WickHabit. (image from etsy.com)

  • Thank-you gifts for my daughter’s daycare teachers (cute personalized tumbler plus a $5 Starbucks gift card)

Teacher Gift

These are from the LuckyLilyDesigns Etsy shop and they EXACTLY as cute in person. I love them. (image from etsy.com)

  • And I am planning to (once I talk to my husband about it and help him move beyond his [possible] [likely] inclination to NOT do it) get cookies or chocolates or doughnuts or something for the entire daycare staff on my daughter’s last day, but I haven’t gotten beyond the Step 2b fretting-about-the-gift-possibilities stage on that yet.

So. I think I am making some progress, considering that I am TERRIBLE AT GIVING GIFTS.

Oh, yes. Looking specifically at the teacher thank-yous and the baby gifts up there, I realize ANOTHER aspect of my gift-giving issues: Sometimes, I start to go overboard. I get Christmas Stocking Syndrome, and start panicking about “what if it’s not enough?” and “maybe I should just throw this last little thing in here” and “oh look at this cute little extra that would be so fun!” That is how the Starbucks gift cards got added to the teacher presents (what if they hate the tumblers? what if this is a case of “you should have just given a gift card”?) and how the little board books got added to the baby presents (oh but they are under $6! And this is Carla’s FAVORITE story when she was a baby!). (And also how I added a bottle of nail polish and a tub of EOS lip balm – which is the same duo I got from a dear friend after I had Carla – to my Amazon order so I could add a little mother-self-care giftlet to each baby gift.) Giving in to Christmas Stocking Syndrome feels good at the time, but then afterward makes me worry – yet again – that I’ve been too flamboyant or overly aggressive with my gifting.

But! I am going to ignore my CSS Panic about the baby and teacher gifts and MOVE FORWARD!

In the interest of full disclosure, the engagement gift, baby gifts, and bookmark have all been purchased but not actually wrapped or sent to the recipients yet. The housewarming gift (which will be candles, from Wick Habit) has not yet been purchased. And two of the three teacher gifts are wrapped but won’t be handed out until my daughter’s last day at daycare.

PHEW. Now that I see that list, I feel both happy and relieved and also a little bit ACK! because that is a lot of money. BUT. I think each of those gifts was appropriate and I don’t think any of them was too expensive if taken singularly. And anyway, one should not think too much of TOTAL COST lest it dampen the generous impulse!

I am going to go wrap the engagement gift and then put the bookmark in the mail RIGHT NOW!

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