My daughters know me so well

I’m still talking about Christmas presents because —

  1. we only recently took down the tree.
  2. I just last week found some gifts I’d opened Christmas morning & then carefully placed in a safe spot so I wouldn’t lose them/forget them/accidentally throw them away. It’s Christmas every day at our house!
  3. my daughters gave me such awesome presents that I want to share.

It won’t surprise you to learn that all three things are true. But let’s focus on the third thing because it’s the most true: My daughters – – two incredible women in their sort-of mid-30s — are THE BEST present-givers ever. They must have learned this skill from the Internets because I sure didn’t teach them.

  • Older Daughter gave me something I’ve never had or thought about having before: a image0facial. I am 62 years old & have never had a facial. Is that normal? I don’t know–somehow I always associated facials with stars & celebrities & people who say, offhandedly, “But that handbag is only $5,000–a steal!” After all, I’m from the Pond’s/Noxzema generation with a dash of hippie-natural. I mean, I always thought that your face is your face. It’s going to go through some things (with deepest apologies to Marie L. Yovanovitch) & there’s nothing a normal non-celebrity person can do about it. But I was wrong. Thank goodness Older Daughter knew that I was wrong & decided to do something about it. (Again, I have no idea who taught her such impressive adult behavior. I should take notes.) I know I probably won’t look 10 years younger when it’s done, but literally putting my face in somebody else’s hands is going to be relaxing & fun. One question  — How close to your facial date do you remove chin hair? Asking for a friend.
  • Younger Daughter excels at finding gifts that make you think “This was absolutely made for me & now I never want to be without it.” I am both a notebook & writing-image2implement addict AND a make-up newbie (see above on facials). So what better gift than Sephora makeup brushes in the shapes of classic yellow No. 2 pencils? Yellow No. 2 pencils! This is genius & I sort of want to find the designers & shake their hands. Or write them a thank-you note with, you know, a classic yellow No. 2 pencil. Younger Daughter also gifted me this Ruth Bader Ginsburg keychain string doll. I love her. She’s the perfect size & has accompanied me practically everywhere since I got her & I credit her with all good things that have happened to me since. She goes with the RBG dissension necklace Younger Daughter gave me the previous year. I need to start wearing it every day, as well.

Thanks for letting me brag about my brilliant daughters reading. What are some presents your grown children have given you? And are you surprised that they learned such mature behavior AFTER they grew up–seems like only yesterday we were saying, “Please don’t throw My Little Ponies at your sister.”

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P.S. Nobody pays me anything or gives me anything or helps me in any way in exchange for a mention in “Coffee with Cathy.” Whatever you read here is from me alone, for no other reason than it’s something I like or saw or heard or feel or want to talk about. Of course, if Cadillac wants to gift me my dream car – an Escalade SUV – I’m open to negotiations, but otherwise, I can’t be bought. (Also blue. I like Dark Adriatic Blue.)

Was Dec. 25 really only 25 days ago?

Yes. Yes, it was. Only 25 days ago you were knee-deep in LEGO boxes & sugar-cookie crumbs & desperately trying to remember if you’d wrapped everything correctly because it sure looks your third-favorite sister-in-law is opening the bracelet you bought for your second-favorite sister-in-law. Oops.

(Side note: I’m sitting here with my computer while A Very Important Football Game is on TV & I’m, like, “Oh, it’s the cute guy from the insurance commercials. Aaron somebody.” This is the extent of my NFL knowledge.)

Returning to the Great Gifting Extravaganza of 25 days ago–remember how, before image3Dec. 25, we’d anguished over our burgeoning holiday gift list? Remember how we second-guessed every purchase & debated every gift-card-v.-actual-item decision? We worried & stressed & considered paying extra for the super-duper-extra-fast-guaranteed-delivery-yesterday-or-maybe-next-week shipping because we wanted to give everybody the perfect present. But, right now–25 days later–can you remember what those presents were? I have to admit that for me it’s all faded into a warm fuzzy memory of “thank-yous” & hugs & those Dec. 25 words every grandparent longs to hear: “It’s exactly what I wanted!”

However, I DO remember the awesomely wonderful presents I opened 25 days, and I bet you do, too. We focus so intently on our own holiday shopping that we forget it’s a two-way process. I need to grab a gratitude journal & remind myself because my family includes some of the best present-picker-outers ever. Here’s proof:

  • OK, it’s true that my husband John Pitts didn’t actually go out & buy the BrevilleIMG_2325 Barista Express Espresso Machine for me. But he DID say “go for it” when I told him I had ordered was going to order it & it it could be my Christmas present & I really really wanted it because had he noticed I hadn’t been making espresso lately because my other machine leaked all over the kitchen counter & we can’t have that but we must have espresso. Must. Have. Espresso. At least, I think he said “go for it.” He might have said “What the @#$% do you need a $500 coffee machine for?” I wasn’t really listening. But this? This is life. I love it so hard. We have deep meaningful conversations every morning. We understand each other completely. There was a learning curve in which I doubted myself a couple of times but we finally figured each other out. If you appreciate good coffee as well as the process of making it, then this is a must-have.image1
  • I have two sisters-in-law & they are both generous, loving & giving women who care about things such as equality & environment. One of them gifted me this gorgeous World Wide Fund scarf. It’s a meaningful gift because it reminds me 1) to be more like my sisters-in-law instead of pondering such minor annoyances as “Do you think my ears are different sizes–like feet? Because the left AirPod always slips out.”; 2) “WWF” stands for “World Wide Fund” & not “World Wildlife Fund” or “World Wrestling Federation” because legalities & trademarks, people, and 3) the WWF website has disturbing reports on the Australian wildfire & other climate-change news–and it’s not good. Take a minute & read for yourself. My sis-in-law says “thank you.”

But, wait! There’s more! Come back tomorrow for more gifting fun & other goodies.

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P.S. Nobody pays me anything or gives me anything or helps me in any way in exchange for a mention in “Coffee with Cathy.” Whatever you read here is from me alone, for no other reason than it’s something I like or saw or heard or feel or want to talk about. Of course, if Cadillac wants to gift me my dream car–an Escalade SUV–I’m open to negotiations, but otherwise, I can’t be bought. (Also blue. I like Dark Adriatic Blue.)

Our tree is still up so I’m still talking Christmas

It’s the kind of spousal stalemate when neither one of us is deeply committed enough to Take Action Now.

“Whenever you’re ready,” my husband says. “I’ll take the Christmas tree down after you’ve taken the balls off.” (Pausing here for “balls” joke–c’mon, you know you’re thinking it.)

But I know he loves that tree–an authentic 1950s tinsel one I found on eBay, complete with original individual branch wraps–so I don’t want to appear concerned that it’s up way past the point of reasonable explanation.

“Oh, I’m fine,” I say. “No hurry. Doesn’t bother me a bit.”

So that’s why we still have a Christmas tree up. But that’s a good excuse to brag on the awesome  presents my daughters gave me last month. I’m not sure where they learned such successfully creative gift-giving since I’m more of the put-it-on-your-Amazon-list-and-if-it’s-Prime-I’ll-get-it-for-you type, but I’m tickled to be the recipient of their much better approach. Plus, these are great ideas in case you need some gift-giving inspiration.img_0386(1)

  • Family photo session. Older Daughter did this for me & the grandboys once before (“You’re always taking pictures of them but you don’t  have any with you & them,” she said.), and it’s time to update. The first one was for Mother’s Day, and this time, for Christmas, she made a point of including Grandpa for a true family portrait. Even better, she booked with our favorite local photographer. When both the experience of having photos taken AND the resulting photos themselves are priceless, you know you’ve got a winner. Hijinks will definitely ensue.

 

  • img_0443(edited)Woman Power! Younger Daughter tapped into our mutual love for all things Woman with these two finds: a necklace version of Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent collar & illustrator Lydia Ortiz‘ Little Feminist Playing Cards. I’ve pretty much felt like dissenting every single day for the past two years, so RBG & I are solid. And–shout-out to public education AND book-reading parents–Oldest Grandson, who’s in the fifth grade, accurately identified Rosa Parks, Sally Ride, Marie Curie, Frida Kahlo & others. In fact, he did better than I did. Which is exactly as it should be.

 

  • img_0444(2)Warmth. You know that eureka moment when somebody gifts you something you had no idea even existed but as soon as you see it, you think “well, of course”? That’s how I felt when I opened Younger Daughter’s USB-heated gloves. If you’re like me & value warm & toasty fingers right up there with good hot coffee, get these immediately. Even if you don’t like coffee. They’re for computer work but I love these so much I’m getting an extra pair for the car. Take that, very-slow-to-warm-up car heater.

Daughters weren’t the only ones who excelled in their gift-giving this past holiday.

  • img_0384(1)My husband & I somehow lucked up with the best neighbors ever in the whole world. The. Best. Ever. We don’t deserve them, but there you are. Who else remembers & indulges my possibly obsessive love for all things pumpkin spice? There aren’t many, I can tell you. This collection of wintry coziness makes for the ultimate in comfort: Warming mug of coffee with a splash of Bailey’s plus a slice of fresh homemade bread with yummy pumpkin butter. Turn on the fireplace & endless episodes of “The Great British Baking Show” and I’m all set. See you in April.

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  • This was the year of Advent calendars. Thanks to ALDI, I introduced my people to the concept of opening a little door every day in December to find a little surprise–wine, chocolate, Hot Wheels, American Girl cuteness, etc. My middle brother & sister-in-law were so entranced with the cheese calendar we gave them at Thanksgiving that they one-upped us with a Jim Beam version for Christmas. Twelve little airplane-size bottles were are perfect for sampling & sipping.

Family, friends, woman-power, warm fingers and good food & drink. Here’s to 2019!

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P.S. Remember that nobody pays me or gives me anything or helps me in any way in exchange for a mention in “Coffee with Cathy.” Whatever you read here is from me alone, for no other reason than it’s something I like or saw or heard or feel or want to talk about. Of course, if Cadillac wants to gift me my dream car–an Escalade SUV–I’m open to negotiations, but other than that, I can’t be bought.

 

The Coffee with Cathy Guide to Everything — Overcoming Gift-Giving Envy

You know what I mean by “gift-giving envy,” right? It’s that forehead-slapping moment when you unwrap The Perfect Gift Picked Out Just For You and while you’re speechless at the insane appropriateness of it all (how did she know I’d looked at that scarf just yesterday???) you’re also inwardly wondering WHY CAN’T I EVER DO THAT and secretly dreading when it’s the giftor’s turn to unwrap your Wintry Forest-scented candle, limited edition. Or maybe this is just me. Because I have the extreme and completely undeserved good fortune to be surrounded by folks who always get it right. I don’t know how they do it. But there are clues: “I pay attention,” our community-theatre intern shrugged when I asked how she knew I needed the travel mug and Starbucks Via she gave me. “I loved it so I knew you would, too,” a friend said when she gave me the most adorable necklace ever. “I remembered that you really liked the last one,” a sister-in-law said when she gave me a local artist’s tabletop calendar. Hmmm … 

And since I can’t turn around and use these to dazzle folks in 2014, here are some more unexpected and fun ideas to delight YOUR special people in upcoming gift-giving opportunities:

  • DSCN2893Did you know you could buy assorted single earrings? I didn’t, until Younger Daughter gave me this ultra-cute collection. I wear an uneven number of earrings because … well … I’ve forgotten why I decided to do that originally but I’d like to think it’s my one Rebellion Against the Status Quo. Or something. Also, when it’s Grandbaby Time, I switch to studs. One experience of having your gold hoops yanked out of your ears by an adorable yet incredibly strong young child will do that to you. I love that these have various colors and textures. And that Younger Daughter knew I’d love it.
  • coffeebagDid you know there was such a thing as wood-roasted coffee? I never, in all of my coffee-drinking years, had heard of that. And I pretty much consider myself to be up on all things coffee. But Younger Brother knew there was a gap in my coffee knowledge, so he gave me a bag of Matt’s Wood-Roasted Organic Coffee, made in Maine. At Matt’s, organic coffee is small-batch roasted in a vintage Italian roaster fueled by wood from native and nearby forests. And it is sooo good. It’s subtle and rich and layered and smooth, just as the perfect cup of coffee should be. Order some. Now
  • Of course, I can drink my perfect wood-roasted coffee in the most perfect coffee personalized coffee mugmug ever. Older Daughter is one of those folks skilled at using online photo and printing sites to create ooh-and-ahh-worthy gifts everybody looks forward to. Her expertise in designing hard-cover photo scrapbooks is legendary (if only I could convince her that photos of my precious grandbabies PLAYING AND POSING ON RAILROAD TRACKS are unnecessary). And this year she outdid herself by adding a coffee mug. Just for me. It makes me smile every time I drink coffee out of it — and since Husband John Pitts probably is reading this, I won’t reveal how many times that is. But it’s enough to make me feel good all day. Even with the railroad tracks.
  • Our neighbors are awesomely wonderful. We look out for each other and bring in each other’s DSCN2895garbage cans and pick up the trash. And give good gifts. One neighbor gave us a gift card to one of our favorite downtown eating spots, which we used immediately on beer and guacamole. Another neighbor gave us a basket full of goodies, including these book ends. Book ends! I love the idea of book ends — things such as pretty stationery and statement-making key fobs that used to be staples of everyday life but now are special enough to be elevated to why-didn’t-I-think-of-that gifts. Also please note that this is John Pitts’ side of the bookshelves, used for photography purposes because his side is organized and neat while mine is overflowing and messy and so overloaded that the movable shelves actually do move — downwards — every few months or so.

So, here’s to 2014! May the gifts you give always be welcome and never donated to the Salvation Army store. (Please give money, instead. Because if the set of four white-swan plastic napkin rings terrifies you, do you really want to impose it on somebody else?)

I Love Presents. And My Daughters

Gift-giving is an art. Some people just naturally know how to do it right and always give the exactly right thing at the exactly right time. People such as our two daughters. I’m not sure how or from whom they learned the subtleties of perfect gift-giving — it’s sort of how they inexplicably learned to do hair and make-up so well that our house always was crowded with girls on prom afternoons wanting my daughters’ expertise while my approach to hair and makeup pretty much is a comb and maybe some mascara. But, happily for me, my daughters graduated beyond my meager attempts at gift-giving brilliance and excel on their own. Of course, Older Daughter knows that any gift involving our two grandsons — almost 4-years- and 4-months-old — makes me melt into a puddle of grandmotherly love, so naturally the collection of photo books she’s been giving us on gift-giving occasions is on my Things-To-Take-Out-of-the-Burning-House-After-the-Cats-But-Before-My-Shoes. Younger Daughter, however, doesn’t have adorably precious babies (yet), so she has to rely on her own natural creativity and sweetness when coming up with presents. And for this past Valentine’s Day, she truly outdid herself. My gift bag included coffee beans she knew I’d love, a smooth and silky dark-chocolate bar and two oh-so-cute gifts a couple of her friends made — a jar of chocolate body scrub and a tiny notebook from recycled paper and discarded boxes of tea, tied with a scrap of found ribbon. Love, love, love. Both daughters and gifts.

12 Days of Christmas Countdown

last-minute-gift1For Day No. 6 in Cathy’s 12 Days Before Christmas Countdown, here’s an idea for a super last-minute gift and stocking stuffer. I love these! One of the best timesaving holiday tips I’ve ever heard is to have a signature gift that you can buy in bulk and have on hand for almost everybody on your list. You may not have thought of travel mugs as a one-size-fits-all gift since not everybody drinks coffee or has commutes, but these mugs are perfect for all sorts of folks. You can use them for coffee, sure, but also hot cocoa for those late-night drives out to see the lights and hot tea for extra energy to make it through that final shopping push. Or make your morning smoothie portable. And you don’t even need a cupholder to enjoy these mugs, of course. Maybe your kids will drink christmas-and-new-years-2006-07-01814their milk if you give it to them in a penguin “glass.” I’ve seen mugs like theseeverywhere this year — Starbucks especially has some cute ones. To make them useable past December, my friend Susan (who gave the tall mug in the middle to her book-club members this year) says to look for winter themes rather than strictly holiday designs. She is so smart! Check back for Day No. 5 in the Christmas Countdown for a festive yet simple door design.