Presents and Presence

So…what didja get for Christmas??

That was my favorite question to ask my cousin Katie on Christmas morning.  I would call her and we would expound upon our gifts for a while before going off to enjoy them. It is one of my favorite Christmas memories.

Now, I know gift-giving is not the most important part of the holiday but c’mon, let’s be real…it’s probably the most fun.

I love getting gifts!  And, I love giving them, even more.  My favorite is when you find the perfect thing for the perfect somebody and can surprise them on Christmas morning.  We have a running joke/competition in our family: make mom cry on Christmas.  Which of us (me, Bernie, or Mark) can dissolve her into tears?  This year Bern won with a paint set…then…a tie!!  Mark got her with a bottle of her cousin’s favorite scotch, evoking many memories.  Me, I got her a coffee maker so I wasn’t expecting to win, but she was very pleased with it. 

Right before Thanksgiving I was at Kevin’s house.  For the new reader, Kevin is my brother-from-another-mother, and I have literally known him my entire life.  We were discussing Christmas.  Kev is kind of hit or miss about the whole thing.  He loves Christmastime, but he loathes gift=giving.  He never knows what to get someone.  Conversely, he hates accepting gifts, because he either ends up not liking or not needing them, then he feels like an asshole and hangs on to the whatever forever, feeling guilty about throwing it away.  I can see his point of view, but I am of the opposite, and swore to him that I would teach him the meaning of gift-giving this holiday season.  He scoffed.

I went on a mission the next morning to find a gift for him, something he both would need and want.  Something I knew about Kev all these years is that he hasn’t had a proper wallet in some time.  He finds them bulky.  He keeps his cards and cash wrapped in a rubber band in his pocket.

I decided to hunt for a money clip.  Something small and sleek that he could use instead.  Then, I found it…a black and silver clip with an imprint of a wolf howling at the moon.  The wolf is totally his spirit animal, so there it was.  I purchased it and waited for it to arrive. 

Two weeks went by before I realized it was lost somewhere in California.  I got an email that Amazon would replace or refund it.  I looked everywhere for another matching one…no luck.  Panic.  And then…it came.  No tracking info listing its arrival, there it was in the mailbox one morning.  Christmas miracle.

We usually do a little dinner after Christmas and exchange gifts but his mother wasn’t feeling well earlier this month so we weren’t sure if we would.  So, I gave him his present early.  And he loved it.  He immediately transferred some of his stuff from the rubber band and put it in his pocket.  I did it, I got him something he would want and need.

But then that punk gave me a fake winning lotto ticket as a gift and I almost killed him.

A few days passed.  Kev called and said he picked up a little something for me.  He didn’t sound super sure of himself, like he wasn’t sure it was an acceptable Christmas present.  Of course, he could have given me anything (except that joke lotto ticket) and I would have been thrilled.  His mother was feeling better, so dinner was on, and he would bring it then.

So last night found me opening a brown paper bag (his idea of wrapping) and discovering…a Bob Ross Chia Pet. 

When I was a kid my friend Christina and I watched Bob Ross a lot. We thought he was great, with his “happy little trees.”  I always liked him.  Plus, I’m a gardener.  And, I saw this in the store and totally wanted to buy it because in my mind this is the most logical Chia Pet since the sheep.  So, really, he knocked it outta the park.

And so, Kevin learned of the joy of gift-giving and receiving.

For Christmas, I got a Bob Ross Chia Pet.  I also got some other cool stuff, like waders for fishing from my momma, the below sweatshirt from my father, and perfume that smells like our trip to the Bahamas from my sister.  Hubs didn’t do special this year, just resourceful…pots and pans and Spotify.  It was a lovely Christmas.  We had dinner with my aunts and Gram, and this past Saturday we did Kiddo Christmas.  Everyone loved their gifts.  I gave L and E their own fishing poles, and E scored an awesome handmade tablet cover from her father.  K got ALL the jewelry to fill her new jewelry box, and M walked away with Doom: Eternal for the PS4.

But that Chia Pet? The kinda silly but definitively thoughtful gift I got from my best friend of 37 years?

That one holds the special place in my heart this year.  Good job, bud.  Good job.

A Week of Worry

I’ll be honest, I didn’t even realize yesterday was Thursday.  I wasn’t feeling well, but not so bad that I couldn’t have updated, but I was so out of it that I didn’t even realize what day of the week it was.  So, happy Friday.

I don’t have a real topic today, so I will tell you a couple things that have been weighing on my mind this week.  First of all, there is my health.  I set up an appointment for Monday for a surgery consultation.  It looks like I will be getting a gastric pacemaker, provided I meet all the criteria.  I am both thrilled and terrified.  Thrilled because this may mean the end of my five-year long battle with my stomach.  Terrified because what if something goes wrong?  What if it doesn’t work?  I have been trying to keep these questions out of my head all week, but they creep in and cause me to panic.  For the first time ever, I actually had to call my doc for a Xanax refill.  I’ve had a panic attack every night this week, and it all stems from my health and worries about surgery.  Fortunately, Hubs has been wonderful, holding me while I cry I about it, reassuring me that everything will be fine, and reminding me of all the benefits of the surgery. Alas, I remain frightened.  I think it’s because I have tried so many things to make myself better and nothing has worked, so I am feeling like this won’t either.  Still, I need to do it, I need to hope for it to work, and I need to keep my head about me in the process.

Another thing on my mind, aside from my health, is my chapbook.  I sent an inquiry back in October to a publisher that I liked, and they replied in January and asked me to send along my manuscript for review.  They said I would hear from them in about three weeks.  I initially thought this was sort of a short reply time given that even when I submit singular poems I don’t usually hear back for at least a month.  But I figured it’s a small manuscript, so maybe they don’t need that much time. 

For the first three weeks, I waited patiently.  I reminded myself that no news is good news, and if they read it and didn’t like it, they would get back to me right away.  Well now it has been five weeks, and I am on pins and needles.  I am maintaining that it is a good sign that it’s taking so long.  Perhaps they are deliberating over it because they like it.  Perhaps they really like it and are drawing up papers before contacting me.  Or maybe they haven’t even read it yet.  Whatever the case, I am going crazy waiting.  This is my number one choice for publisher, as it is a small company in my city that has produced some poetry books I like.  Buffalo is having a poetry renaissance, and I am desperate to be a part of it.  When I started going to a local bookstore for poetry nights back in October, I was terrified.  My anxiety told me that no one would like my work, that no one would talk to me, that I would be alone and insignificant.  I can’t say I don’t still have those feelings, but I push myself to go each month because I am trying to overcome my insecurities.  And I will say it gets a little easier each time.  I am very much looking forward to this month’s reading, though I am having trouble picking a poem for the open mic segment.  I will likely read something from my chapbook, with the hope that putting it out in the universe brings it to life. 

The one highlight of my worrisome week is that Sahar is in town.  She is one of my dearest friends, and she lives in Kentucky, which I hate.  But she’s in town for about a month and we were able to go to lunch.  I am hoping to see her many more times before she returns to that hell-state.  Like Hubs, she knows just what to do to calm my worrisome head.

So, I walk into this next week with my head held high and my heart full of hope, but also worry.  I will see the doc on Monday and figure out what the plan is, and we will go from there.  Hopefully my worries will be unfounded, and I can face this surgery with courage. 

A girl can dream.