Three tips for holiday success

Yes, that panic you feel actually IS panic this time — pure unadulterated panic, not the kind you’ve been manufacturing because your year-end reports are due & has anybody seen your green sparkly sweater with the reindeer plus global warming, y’all. Nope, this is officially Panic Time because Dec. 25 is a week from today. One week,  people. One. Week.

But there are some things you can do to lessen your panic. Not completely get rid of it, you understand. That’s impossible because you ALWAYS will suddenly wake up at 3:31 a.m. on Dec. 23 with the certainty that although you did mail your sister’s family’s Christmas gifts in time, you definitely forgot to include your brother-in-law’s traditional bottle of Scotch, which your sister will take as subtle criticism & not call you for two weeks. That’s going to happen and you can’t do anything about it.

However, you can be prepared for/aware of other minor crises. Here are some suggestions, based on just a small sampling of my many holiday screw-ups years of expert research:

  • Family gatherings equal Game Nights, correct? Be the cool one with aIMG_2677 game that nobody’s played before. Family-friendly Qwirkle and its grown-up sibling Qwirkle Cubes are sort of dominoes, Scrabble and Hearts all rolled (sorry/not sorry for pun) into one. It truly is a game that’s easy to learn but then the more you play it, the more you realize how complex it can be. And, of course, because you are The Smart One, you downloaded the app on your phone and practiced beforehand so you can wipe up the competition with your brilliant moves share helpful advice & encouragement with those lesser players.
  • Pinterest is your friend during the holidays. Your best friend, IMG_2673actually, and she doesn’t even call you ONCE AGAIN at midnight to go over ONCE AGAIN the reasons she left her job/boyfriend/overflowing grocery cart in the middle of the frozen-food aisle ONCE AGAIN. (But you love her. You know you do.) Just browse through and you’ll find answers to any kind of holiday idea for decorating, gifting, baking, dressing for the office party — anything, really. Such as this wonderful gift idea my co-worker discovered: Add a cut-out handprint to a pair of gloves, embellish with ribbon and tuck a gift card inside one of the gloves. She did this for the student workers in our office and we added gift cards for a local restaurant because students always are 1) hungry and 2) cash-deficient. They loved it.
  • IMG_2671And, finally, as my Christmas gift to you, I’m sharing a tip to use when you’re getting dressed for those elegant and sophisticated cocktail gatherings and dinner parties and formal affairs at the embassy  the preschool Christmas program. And that tip is to pay attention to your earrings. For instance, from the back & from a distance & before you’ve put your contacts in/glasses on, these two earrings look pretty much the same, correct? I mean, they both have little sticky things poking out of the sides. Careful examination, however, reveals that one is a cute festival silver bow and the other is a manically grinning skull & crossbones. Do not wear manically grinning skull-and-crossbones earrings to the preschool Christmas program. You’re welcome.

The Mystery of the Missing Earring

As a mystery fan, I’m constantly on the lookout for spies, poisoners, counterfeiters and other bad guys & girls. I mean, everybody whom Goldy Schulz knows eventually is connected to a crime and Miss Marple can’t walk out of her front door without stumbling over a dead body. Sadly or luckily — not sure which — so far I’ve only been called upon to solve such perplexing cases as “What happened to the last piece of caramel cake?” and “Why is the coffee grinder making that funny sound?”  And then this happened: The Case of the Disappearing Earring. I’ll start with the facts. One recent evening, my husband and I went to dinner directly after I got home from work. Back at home after dinner, I started to take off jewelry and makeup. I stood by my dresser to take off my earrings and put them back in their spot on a jewelry stand (a re-purposed vertical CD holder). I took one earring off and put it where it belonged and then suddenly realized the corresponding earring was not in my other ear. Not a disaster, but I liked those earrings and didn’t want to lose one. So I alerted my husband to the possibility that he might find a random earring in his car (leading to much hilarity, of course, about finding lady things in his car hahahaha) or somewhere on the floor and if he did, to please pick it up and give it to me because it was MIA. He said he would and I went to bed, not really worried about the Missing Earring. Got up the next morning, got dressed, put on jewelry, went to work, came home and once again stood by my dresser to take off my earrings and put them up. So far, so good. But as I was putting that day’s earrings back where they belonged, I noticed that the missing earring was right there, separated from its twin that I had worn the day before but in the general location of where it should be. I was momentarily startled and then started to consider the possibilities of how the Missing Earring had become un-missing. Here are those possibilities, ranked in order of least to most likely:

  • The earring had fallen off and then, with its magical powers of awesomeness, had found its way back home on its own. I mean, look, if we can find our phones and our cars and our TV remote controls, stands to reason we can find our earrings. Or they can find us. I know that this seems highly unlikely, but still. And now I am going to go invent a tiny little tracking chip that we can all put in our favorite earrings. I’ll let you know how it goes.
  • My husband had found the earring and put it back. Again, this seems highly unlikely because if this had happened, he 1) would have triumphantly told me about it and 2) would never have approached my jewelry stand himself because (see above description of this being an old CD rack) it is a bit rickety and shaky and prone to tumble over into jewelry pick-up-sticks and he would not want to be the cause of this happening. Again.
  • On the evening in question, when I was back from dinner and taking off my jewelry, I absent-mindedly took off both earrings and simply did not remember. But it’s not that I was absent-minded. No, indeed. I probably was thinking of something Really Important (such as “What happened to the last piece of caramel cake?”) and simply not paying attention. This is a definite possibility (“I just wasn’t paying attention … ” seems to figure into many conversations I have with my husband) but a troubling one because if you don’t pay attention to your own earrings, who will?
  • And now we come to the most troubling possibility of all. It might maybe could have been that I only had one earring on the whole day. Perhaps, when I got dressed that morning, I only put on one earring. Could this be what happened? (Refer to previous paragraph about Not Paying Attention.) I know I have long hair and had worn a scarf that day, but surely if I’d only had on one earring, somebody would have said something. Don’t you think? On the other hand, this reminds me of once when I’d gone into one of our local boutiques and after I’d left, I realized I’d lost an earring (totally different situation since I KNEW I’d had two at one point). I went back to the shop and asked the owner if she’d found it. “No, you only had one earring when you came in,” she said. I couldn’t believe it. “Why didn’t you say something?” I asked her. “I thought you meant it that way!” she said. And while I appreciated the compliment that I was edgy enough to wear only one dangling earring, I am not edgy at all and prefer pretty much to have my ears match.

So what do you think? I’m sort of leaning toward the fourth possibility, as troubling as it is that a) I’d forgotten to put two earrings in that morning and b) nobody commented on it. But then, I don’t usually check out folks’ earrings, either, so that might be too much pressure to put on people. And, bottom line, I’ve got both earrings back now, so all is well. Goldy & Miss Marple would be proud.

Random Thoughts and Labor Day

Yea for long holiday weekends! If you’re lucky enough to get one, that is. The Labor Day weekend always has been sort of a random mix of … well, randomness for me. I mean, it’s picnics and cookouts and road trips and fun — unless, of course, you a) have a job that does not recognize long holiday weekends off as the rest of the civilized world does or b) have few social contacts outside of your job so three or four days away from the office sort of stretches into boring nothingness and you promise yourself again that you’re going to get out more. Really, you are. Also, the Labor Day weekend signals the end of summer and the arrival of college football — although it’s still 92 in the shade and you’re going to get sunburned sitting at the stadium all afternoon. So in honor of all this randomninity, here are some random things that have happened to me this week. 

1) I was eating lunch with several folks from my lapsed book club — now we just get together and eat and talk and drink — and the conversation turned to books we’d each read and would recommend. Everybody whipped out — or tried to, anyway — their list-making-tools of choice. Top prize goes to my friend who uses both her iPad and her iPhone to keep up with the books she’d read, the books she wanted to read and the books she’d share with others. The rest of us were impressed. And now here’s where the quality of our list-making as a whole goes down rather a lot, because coming in second was me, with my black Papermate Pilot pen — I buy them by the dozens — and my pocket-sized notebook I carry with me always and also buy in bulk. Everyone was complimentary that I not only had these things at the ready but that I could actually find them in my purse/survival bag for potential shipwreck on a deserted Pacific island. Next came my friend who did have a pen but was jotting down books on a the back of a Wal-Mart receipt and then my friend who fished an old envelope out of her purse but had nothing to write with. And, finally, there was the one of us who simply shook her head, ordered more wine and said, “Somebody e-mail all this to me.” I want to be her.

2) Turns out I’d worn unmatching earrings all day on Wednesday. Wore them to the office and to lunch and everything. Talked to dozens of people during the day. Nobody said a word. “I thought that was, like, your fashion statement,” a friend said. Nope — only a statement that I obviously need more coffee before I try to get dressed in the morning.

3) I was hanging out with 2 1/2-year-old grandson Capt. Adorable and he said what I heard as “want animal bacon.” I naturally thought he was a genius baby for recognizing the difference between animal bacon and vegetarian bacon, but then I realized that we probably weren’t talking about “bacon” at all because he kept saying it while gazing longingly at the TV. Translation from his mom (my older daughter): “Want ‘Elmo’s Blanket’,” a DVD about Elmo journeying to Grouchland to retrieve his blanket. No bacon involved at all.

Bicycle Earrings

I love these earrings! A friend of my college-age daughter gave them to her for her birthday and they are so incredibly cute. My daughter rides her bicycle everywhere she can, so these earrings were the perfect gift. They came from Sojourns in downtown Birmingham, Alabama. Check out the Web site at Sojourns is a Fair Trade retailer and gallery that offers handmade clothing, gifts, housewares and food from around the world. I’d like to adopt Soujourns’ theme: “Adventure – Art – Peace.”  But of course I’d add “Coffee and Chocolate” to the list. I’ve got my priorities, after all.