No-Gift Christmas (Sort Of)

In the spirit of giving and not receiving–sort of–the husband and I decided this year we would not spent the money buying gifts for ourselves, each other, or nearly anyone else.


  1. The holiday shopping season is out of control.  We want no part of it.
  2. We all have way too much.  We are blessed, certainly, but still have too much.
  3. A lack of appreciation for past gifts.

Instead, we continued our holiday tradition of buying gifts for children in need.  In the past, we have selected children from the Salvation Army Angel Tree.  This year, we had two children selected for us as part of the Winter Wishes program organized by New York Cares.  Two-year-old Chrystal asked for books; eight-year-old Destiny asked for a Baby Alive doll.  They both got their wishes and a little more, too.   And because there was a deadline for mailing, our Christmas shopping for these girls was finished by December 1.

We also felt humbled to be able to send money to Ghana for the second year in a row, where a little boy named Emmanuel will receive a Christmas gift he otherwise wouldn’t get.

I don’t miss the hustle and bustle or the frenzied shopping or the dwindling bank account of years past.  It’s so nice to know that our holiday will be merry without all of that.  Happy holidays!

Norma’s Extra Special 2009 Grammy Awards

  1. The Shut Up and Go Back To Your Tiny Island Award — U2
  2. The Worst Use of a Music Legend Award — whoever paired Stevie Wonder with The Jonas Bros
  3. The “I’m a real blond!” “No I’m a real blond” Award — (tie) Leann Rimes and Sheryl Crow
  4. The Scarred Award — Blink182
  5. The I Should Be Hosting Award — Craig Ferguson
  6. The Escape From Rehab Award — Whitney Houston
  7. The Kissing a Girl Doesn’t Mean You Can Dance AT ALL Award — Katy Perry
  8. The Sluttiest Pregnant Woman Ever Award — MIA
  9. The “Hey, is that Tiffany?” Award — Paul McCartney
  10. The Grandpa Grammy — Neil Diamond

First Christmas


Being married has put me in the Christmas spirit. For the first time in my adult life, I have a Christmas tree in my living room, complete with lights and ornaments and presents and the retro lighted star on top.

Like so many Americans, our search for the perfect tree began with a car ride to the nearest Wal-Mart. There we perused the selection of artifical trees, taking into consideration size, price and pre-litness. We settled on the four-foot version, pre-lit, of course, for $14.95. We trudged (drove) home through the snow (traffic), hauled (carried) the tree (box) into the house (duplex) and spent the next hour or so putting it up.

This process included a viewing of “A Christmas Story” in an attempt to create a memory. (In other words, we are trying to create a tradition.) It also included buying an ornament to commemorate our first Christmas together. Because we’re both practical and thrifty, we picked up a fancy ornament along with the cheapie glass ornaments we bought at Wal-Mart. (Something had to go on the tree!) But a week or so later, I found the perfect ornaments:


What makes these ornaments so perfect is that the cup is reminiscent of my wedding proposal. My dearest had gone to Starbucks to get coffee; when he returned, he put down the cups, dropped on one knee and asked me to marry him. The other ornament is a tiny ceramic bag of “Christmas Blend” coffee, just perfect for a first Christmas in tandem with the other. Isn’t it nice when things come together like that? I was so moved, I emailed the Starbucks company and told them our story. Hopefully someone in Seattle will get a warm fuzzy feeling from it.

In addition to our tree, we bought stockings for each other and a little one for the cat. They are now hanging on the mantle. (It’s a shame to waste a perfectly good mantle by not putting stockings there for Christmas.) I expect they’ll all be filled with goodies in a couple days time. All together, our humble abode is quite festive with the addition of Christmas decorations. It seems a shame to have to take them down, but I plan to leave everything until New Year’s Day, to get good use out of it.

Still, the best thing about this Christmas is having a special someone to shop for. I didn’t buy anything extravagant, but I got a few things for my honey that I know he’ll really like. And I feel confident that his shopping will result in happiness for me, although I truly believe it’s the thought that counts. Being in love is the best part of any holiday, I’m finding. Having a permanent best friend is the best gift that has ever been given to me.

I hope your Christmas is merry, your holidays are bright and your New Year brings everything your heart desires!

Vintage Kaepas Wanted!

I recently visited my hometown. The purpose was twofold:

  1. To spend a few days with my grandmother.
  2. To give my new husband the grand tour and take him to all the spots that had significance in my life.

I’ve discovered over the years that visiting that tiny town is like taking a trip back in time. Somehow I am immediately taken back to the early 80s. I suppose it’s because those were such pivotal years for me, but I think it’s also because my hometown is sort of stuck. Much of the town is exactly as it was during that decade of my life. It’s weird.

The point is, the feeling lingers. I came home and began to infuse my current life with the pop culture of 20 years ago. The VH1 Classic/DVR combo in my living room lets me record and save hours worth of 80s videos every week. My YouTube “favorite videos” is now populated with the likes of Duran Duran, Cyndi Lauper and Pat Benatar. I’ve decided to begin a collection of 80s movies. I have a sudden need to read old issues of Seventeen. (I managed to find some from 1984 at a nearby library and I really did feel 13 again for the half hour or so I thumbed through them. I really did.) Luckily, I married someone who loves the 80s as much as I do–hometown trip or not. He is encouraging (enabling?) this six-laned highway trip down memory lane. Alas, though, there’s something missing.

This has happened before, the last time being about two years ago when I attended a high school reunion. That trip left me with a need to have a pair of Nikes. Not just any Nikes–the Nikes that were my very first pair of Nikes. It actually didn’t take very long to find a website that had information about them: canvas, rubber toe, blue swoop. The site also had information about labels inside the shoes and how to tell what year they were made. Next thing you know, I was happily shopping eBay for my old shoes. A couple of months and $20 later, I was the proud owner of these:

Now I can’t explain what waxing nostalgic has to do with buying old shoes, but I can tell you that I now need a pair of Kaepas. Remember the old Kaepas? With the two shoestrings in each shoe? I had a pair of low tops with the navy blue logo and a pair of high tops with the silver logo. I got them in middle school and I know I wore them through high school, but then… I have no idea what ever happened to them. I still have my pink Chucks from 1983, so where did my Kaepas get off to? What’s weirder…everyone’s Kaepas seem to have gotten off to somewhere. I can’t find any mention of them anywhere. The official Kaepa website (yes, they still make shoes) has not a single mention. I’ve been haunting eBay daily and I’ve come up with nothing. Even those websites managed by avid vintage shoe lovers have no mention of the old Kaepa. There has to be at least one pair. Somewhere.