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Tag Archives: gift
Whatever. I can’t count! Leave it to me to try and change the birthdate of Jesus. Okay, math has never been my thing. I’m focusing more on the artistic process here, not the time, or time-math. Work with me people. Only one person has been brave enough to point this out, and as soon as he gets out of the hospital, you can ask him about it.
Have you read The Five Love Languages? I have, and although I may not know my love language, I know what it’s not. It’s not gifts. With that being said, please enjoy my 2009 Christmas gift giving guide.
The 2009 Christmas Gift Giving Guide by Jody Wissing (aka Jody’s List)
Your most memorable childhood gift.
What was the coolest, most mind-blowing gift you received as a child? No silly, besides the box it came in? Mine was a Krazy Kar. It’s that bright yellow thing with the swirly peppermint wheels. I don’t recall how long I had it, but I know it was several years. I’m guessing it was completely worn out, not suitable for anything but plastic recycling, as I loved it to death. I had no idea what this was called until last week when I posted this photo on Facebook.
Product description: The Krazy Kar is as equally wild as it is wacky! Drive it forwards, backwards, or in circles for indoor and outdoor fun all year long! Features giant 3′ action ride-on and big 18″ wheels. Made with safe, rugged, durable construction and holds up to 70 lbs. Colors may vary. Adult assembly required.
Although I like the new edition of the lightening bolts, I’m a little saddened that the swirly peppermint wheels are gone. Oh well, nothing a little paint can’t take care of. And 70 pounds? How am I supposed to show my kids how to ride this if I can’t? Their Green Machines hold up to 180 pounds, not that I ever take advantage of that. But hypothetically speaking, let’s say you want something like this so you can ride it too.
Product description: Kids use their hands to power this innovative twist on the conventional ride-on. Lightweight construction helps riders cruise right along, safely take corners, and spin 360s on almost any surface. Features a steel frame, rubber tires and a padded seat for riders up to 110 lbs.
Okay, so I don’t weigh 110, wishful thinking, but I’l only a bit over it, so technically… Also, if you buy one of these for your kids and they choose to keep spinning in circles, keep them outside for a little while before bringing them in the house. Is your favorite toy still available?
Creative, memorable and just downright awesome.
What is the most meaningful or creative gift you have ever received? The most creative for me was a bouquet of paintbrushes. I’m not a flower kind of girl, and this gift giver, although knowing me for a short period time, gave me a meaningful gift. I was married for eight years and the man still gave me flowers when he was in the dog house. That made me angry, spending a crazy amount of money on something that’s dead upon arrival and will look like it in three days. I cannot comprehend this.
The most memorable gift? Flamingos and Skelemingos. Again, this friend took the time to know what I would like, not jewelry, not flowers, not a sweater, but something quirky that nobody else would ever think to buy. Not that your friend will want these, but just in case…
Product description: NEW!!! One pair of s-c-a-r-y, b-o-n-y flamingoes! For All Occacsions: Halloween, Over-The-Hill Parties, Special Birthdays, Block Parties, Special Occasions, Retirement Parties etc. Can be used indoors or outdoors. “Perfect for the party…then in the yard for the rememberance!” When assembled they stand approximately 34″ high. Made in the U.S.A. of HDPE plastic.
How well do you know your friends?
Red fish, blue fish, old fish, new fish.
Dr. Seuss might be on to something here. Why do we feel like gifts must be something new? What’s wrong with old stuff? Anyone can go into the cookie cutter stores, purchase mass produced material goods (available in many colors and styles), take the stuff home, wrap it in a bunch of fancy mass produced paper and call it a day. Thought process? “I’ve made my expected purchases, checked it off the to-do list and I’m on to my other busyness.” What has been accomplished here? We’re supporting financial insanity and overseas sweatshops.
Now don’t get me wrong. We need people to buy lots of new stuff, because without that, there would be nothing at the thrift stores. I would not have found my $1,300 grill for $70 or my son’s $595 Sleep Number bed for $6. Okay, I’m being sarcastic, but seriously, if you are supporting thrift stores with your old stuff, please continue! These stores raise money to help needy people, so why not go treasure hunting? It’s three times better! You are saving money, you’re supporting people in need and you’re spending the time to look for something special for your loved ones.
You can Google these for locations and also look for other resale shops, as there are many great ones in our area. Buy gifts with character. What would that person on your list fall in love with and not regift? Oh, and don’t get me started on the re-gifting thing…
Judge a book by it’s cover.
With all of the used bookstores around, and to use a car dealer term, why not buy some pre-owned books? There are many great reasons to do this. First, you can write a special note in it for the person you’re giving it to. (Unless you’re buying a book for Jerod Chambers, then you need to write on all of the pages in the book, as he loves that!) Second, with the the endless number of topics and abundant, ingenious styles, it’s easy to find a book for any person on your list.
But my favorite part of giving books as gifts? Altering them. That’s right, altering them. Write notes, scribble, paint, tape things, glue cutouts, add bookmark strings… the list goes on. There’s two ways to do this, make a book into a completely new books by gluing pages together and adding your own embellishments, like the vintage books pictured here. The other idea is much simpler, just add your own stuff to the book on the blank pages, creating a personalized copy of whatever book you’re giving. Either way, I doubt this gift will end up in a thrift store. Oh, what a dilemma, which idea should you choose?
At the risk of offending anyone who’s done this, I just have to say, this has brought a whole new level of ridiculousness to gift giving. I have to add this to Jody’s list, but as a ‘don’t do it’. What is it? Personalized wine bottle etching, the gift that keeps on… recycling? So let’s suppose you get one of these treasured heirlooms, and instead of keeping it in a rack, you actually want to drink it. Hmm, now you’ll have an empty bottle that will look really nice, if you just happen to love empty wine bottles all over your house. Great, just what I need, a guilt trip if I throw this bottle away after enjoying it, as it was intended. Or maybe I should keep it, and I’ll set it on the counter when you come to visit. No, this bottle will be a wonderful addition to my recycling bin.
Look, I’m all about the free stuff. The engraving is free at Market Street if you buy a bottle of wine over $10. I have to ask, what is the engraving guy thinking? He didn’t look all that happy to be doing this, or he might just have been in his engraving ‘zone’. Do your friends really need a name on their bottle of wine to know it belongs to them? If you’re not sure, look inside their coat and see if their name is written on the tag with a Sharpie.
I was at a party last night, one where the white elephant gift exchange was the football half-time event. Cool! Because I’m all about finding an unusual gift. The gift I walked away with last night was a good one. It was someone giving me two hours of their time for whatever I might need it for. This got me thinking.
This Christmas I’m trying to live differently, giving my time and money to people in need. Let me just say that I am giving money, but I don’t have a lot to give. I’m also giving my time, and even though there’s not a lot of that either, I have more time than money. What are your resources and how can you use them to help people? My kids and I chose to sponsor Casa Hogar Elim and The Sons of Lwala this year, financially and with an allotment of our time. What would your friends think if you did this in their name as a gift? My experience? It inspires other to do the same thing. Give to someone that can’t give back this Christmas. Set an example of giving goodness for others to follow.
The ultimate gift.
God gave us the greatest gift of all, his son. When gift giving this Christmas, or any Christmas, just remember why you’re doing it. Don’t get sucked into the vortex of materialism and meaninglessness. Celebrate the Ultimate Gift by giving gifts with the true meaning of Christmas in your heart. (Yes, even if it’s an impractical engraved bottle of wine)
I was sad yesterday afternoon as I watched the large group of people leaving for Mexico. I so very much wanted to go with them. They are bringing Christmas gifts to the children at Casa Hogar Elim, an annual thing started last year by Jeff Harrell. We collect shoe boxes, fill them up with small age-appropriate toys and sugar-free candy, then wrap them up. Now these gifts aren’t just for a boy, age 6, or a girl, age 10, there’s a package for each individual child with their name on it. We can’t put bows on these boxes, as they would be crushed under the weight of all the supplies in the cars and vans.
There are so many people from our church that want to go to Casa Hogar, they don’t even need to advertise the trips. If you’ve been there, you’re a walking billboard for CHE. The Thanksgiving trip even had a waiting list this year. The ‘regulars’ have gone so many times, they can’t even tell you how many trips they’ve made. We love these kids, and for those of us whom visit often, these kids are our extended family.
You know the old saying, ‘you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family?’ I beg to differ. I was thinking last night about family and friends, and all of the funny ways God placed them in my life. God clearly has a sense of humor!
I moved into my house three years ago, although my kids didn’t start attending the local school until two years ago. We live at the end of the street, walking distance from the elementary school. I noticed a house that had some fun yard decor, more specifically, ‘little skeleton girl’. She was out for Halloween, dressed in her hippie costume, but she stayed out for other holidays. What!? Could this be? Could I really have a soul sister on my street?
I was intrigued. Why did I think this was my soul sister? I have a full size mannequin named Darla. You can learn more about her on Facebook at facebook.com/luvplasticpeople. Anyway, I wanted to meet little skeleton girl’s mom. I did, and her name is Patty.
Patty loves to volunteer her time for great causes, so we cross paths quite a bit, not only walking down the street, but many other places. Patty was at Victoria Gardens with me when I met Flo, the ghost of Christmas future. I can’t wait to go to Casa Hogar with Patty! I live in a great neighborhood, as it’s filled with fun, caring people like Patty.
As I said in yesterday’s post, I was an only child until my teen years. I really don’t remember ever bugging my parents about wanting a baby brother or sister. I don’t know if that’s because I didn’t want one or because I knew it was a horrible idea for my parents to have anymore children. I guess God knew I needed some siblings, but decided to bring them in under different circumstances. At the age of 14, I got a step brother, two step sisters, and soon after, a half brother.
The funny thing about this is my sister Jo. We are not blood related at all, yet we are just alike. Our beliefs, our personalities, our creativity… and the list goes on. The more perplexing thing here is our kids. My son Joe and her son Isaac, again, no genetic relation, not only look alike, but act alike. Jo lives in Wisconsin, so we don’t get to see each other too often. We were on vacation in Florida several years ago, Joe and Isaac both ‘sitting’ on their heads on the sofa watching TV. Jo says, “Look, Isaac taught Joe to do that.” I replied, “What? Joe’s been doing that for months.” Both kids had been doing this separately for months. And just for the record, they look alike right-side up too.
This next one isn’t as much humor funny as it is implausible funny. Let me just start by saying it’s an extremely rare occasion when I can find anything good to say about my ex-husband. The aftermath of an interaction with him frequently results in misery and relational mass destruction.
Dawn and Genna live near Kansas City, so we don’t get to see them very often. Genna is my step-daughter and Dawn is her mother. The boys and I took our family vacation up there this past summer and we had a blast! Okay, I know what you’re thinking. You probably think it’s odd that we’re friends, so this next statement will really throw you. We consider ourselves family. Yes, family. You may not be able to choose your genetic family, but through love and friendship, you do choose your ‘preferred’ family. One of the definitions of family is “a group of people who are generally not blood relations but who share common attitudes, interests, or goals…” Yes, that’s us. I’ve realized one thing this Christmas, one very big positive thing to say about the boys dad. Without him, I would not have my boys, nor would I have Dawn and Genna. As you can tell by the photo, they are obviously ‘related’, as they are a bunch of little camera junkies! Genna is a very talented photographer and is doing an internship right now. The boys like to make funny YouTube videos, a couple that have gone small-time viral.
God has brought many other people into my life in unexpected ways, from church and Facebook to a lady at church who accidentally door dinged my beat-up car. I’ll take 100 of those kind of door dings! Oh, wait, I have 100 door dings, but only one has a great story behind it.
So what does all of this have to do with Christmas? This is the time of year when many people experience strong feelings of loneliness, seemingly endless despair and high levels of stress. I’m no different, but as these feelings arise, I have this faint awareness of hope. I appreciate my friends and family, realizing I don’t tell them that nearly enough. I also appreciate you for taking the time to read my 25 days of Christmas blog. 🙂
I want to talk about ghosts, those scary, shadowy phantoms that haunt all of us. The dictionary definition of a ghost is a dead person’s soul, imagined as a vague, shadowy figure. My definition is a bit different. Now maybe I watched too much Casper when I was young, but I think ghosts are typically friendly and they’re usually trying to teach humans a lesson. Aren’t ghosts just people spirits in 32% transparent bodies with a 78% vivid light outer glow? Yeah, okay, I spend too much time with Photoshop. I do believe ghosts can be dead or alive. Whether it’s the dead ones that are completely invisible or the live ones that are in plain sight, their presence is known. Yesterday I visited one ghost, and two ghosts visited me.
The Ghost of Christmas Past
I have to say, I didn’t want to see this ghost anymore than Scrooge did, but I reluctantly, yet intentionally decided to visit him. This particular ghost is one that I usually don’t go searching for, but I thought it might shed some light on my Christmas beliefs and struggles with our existing Christmas culture. This particular ghost is a vintage Poloroid camera, as the ghost of Christmas past has presented himself in photographs. The person behind the camera? My grandpa. He passed away many years ago and I miss him terribly. My grandpa was a shutterbug and also the designated family photographer.
My first exploration took me to a large box in the garage, filled with old photos that belonged to my grandparents. I enjoy looking at the past, captured through my grandpa’s eyes, on these little black and white squares. I love visiting this box, but you couldn’t tell that from the amount of dust on it. I searched though the box, looking for any Christmas photos I could find. I found Christmas photos of my dad, aunt and cousins.
The second part of the search took me to my own childhood albums. These albums were meticulously organized by my mother, every photo page referencing my age in years and months. I can only imagine what these albums would look like had they known scrapbooking back then. Not only do these albums contain photographs, but every birthday card I ever received as a child. There must be hundreds of them, and I would venture to say, there are as many cards as photos. I guess that explains why I don’t like cards. All those cards are symbolic of how many superficial contacts my parents had, it was the number that meant something, not the depth of the friendships. Christmas was no different, there were hundreds of cards taped on the wall, creating an oversized map of numerical acquaintanceships. It looked to me like the US, and if anyone looked closely enough, I expect they would have seen tiny little cars driving aimlessly all over it, looking for an unknown destination.
I was an only child until the age of 13, and I was the poster child for ‘spoiled brat’. The photos I found depict the excess of gifts, boxes in such large quantities they spilled out into the room from under the tree.
I remember getting so many gifts, my mom always shuffling me toward the things she liked best, asking me how much I liked this and how much I liked that. She was buzzing around the gifts, all the while, reminding me how lucky I was to get all this stuff. As a child, I remember it being fun getting so many presents, but the moment it was over, the emptiness set in. I saw my friends and neighbors celebrating Christmas and I could tell, even at that young age, that they were experiencing something I wasn’t. It looked nice, felt warm and seemed surreal, yet I had no idea what ‘it’ was.
The ghost of Christmas past brings a melancholy gloom, but visiting with this ghost gives me hope. A hope that I might be able to find ‘it’.
The Ghost of Christmas Present
Get it? Christmas ‘present’? I crack myself up! The really funny thing? This crazy ghost manifested herself in the form of a present, and yes, she led me into the abyss of retail madness. The human ghost behind the present is Candy.
Remember me telling you a few days ago that I needed to buy one more gift? Yesterday, I set out to find a pair of mismatched shoes for Candy. No, you couldn’t pay me enough to go to a mall to shop this time of year, although you could pay me to go there and people watch.
I made my usual discount store rounds, looking for a specific ‘Converse’ style pair of shoes, but in two different colors and patterns. Now I haven’t been shopping in a long time, but when did all of the shoes turn brown and black? What happened to all of the fun colors and styles? Boring! I received some strange looks as I asked for help, and as I’m guessing, nobody actually goes to the store to purposely purchase a pair of mismatched shoes.
I have to say, I was very excited to find a pair of Sketchers for $16.99. Yeah! All I have to do is find another inexpensive pair in the same style, now how hard can that be? Let me just say that I never intentionally bought a pair of mismatched shoes. My favorite pair? One came from Kelly Tuggey, the other from a thrift store. I really needed to get back to work. Where should I go to find another pair to stylistically match?
Running out of time to find a deal, I had to settle for a higher priced place. I finally found a pair of orange Ed Hardy shoes. Yes Geoff, I paid $49.96 for these puppies! I know I will never hear the end of this. That was about half of what they would cost at the mall, but it’s way more than I would ever consider spending for a pair of shoes. And don’t get me started on the statement part of this! Ed Hardy… phssshhh.
So what did I learn from this ghost? I learned that sometimes it’s good to do things you wouldn’t normally do. The cost, whether financial, emotional or otherwise, is very worth it. Even though I won’t be there to see Candy open her gift, I know that she will love the shoes. I’m going to write her a note and have it translated, telling her that she is special and loved not only by me, but everyone. Yes, Candy is a very special ghost.
The Ghost of Christmas Future
I met the ghost of Christmas future last night and her name is Flo. She was at the nursing home where our church was hosting a Christmas party for the residents. This is a photo of Flo talking to one of the kids at the party. The little girl was asking what her name was and Flo replied, “My name is Flo. Pretty crappy name, hey?” She had my full attention now.
Flo and I have the same hair philosophy, wash it, go to bed, and whatever you wake up with is the new style of the day. Capturing Flo in a photo was a difficult task, as she was working the room at an unbelievably rapid pace. Her walker, with tennis ball feet, must be jet propelled.
During one of the Christmas songs, she was dancing. I later told Flo that I captured her dancing on video. She asked, “Is this the New Year’s party? You got me dancing? I don’t remember doing that. I’m not leaving this party until I see myself on TV.”
Flo is cute and spunky, and in her day, I bet she was a blast to hang out with and had many friends. Flo disappeared from the party early, I’m assuming to get ready for bed.
A while later, a large group of us went caroling down the halls. There were four wings, and I so desperately wanted to find Flo again. Toward the end of the last hall, there it was, Flo’s room. She and her roommate were sleeping. I see Flo as the ghost of Christmas future because that will probably be me in 40 years. We were not allowed to take photos in the rooms, you know, all that HIPPA junk, but when I saw the painting hanging over her bed, it took my breath away. I had to secretly snap a photo.
In the nursing home filled with small traces of personal artifacts, arranged into the same basic, beige shell, this colorful painting spoke loudly about Flo. I knew the moment I saw it hanging over Flo’s bed, that she loved color… and loved life. I so terribly want to know her story, but Flo’s memories have been stolen from her. Sadly, Alzheimers, or whatever she has, might have taken her memories, but it made me happy that it did not rob her of her wonderful personality.
I told my kids about Flo last night during our prayer time. Joe prayed for her not to die before he had a chance to meet her. She might be his ghost as well.
We can all learn from our ghosts, and whether you go seeking them or they come to haunt you. Don’t be frightened. Also, don’t ignore them. Remember these are friendly ghosts, and they want to show you something in your life through their own human experience. The Christmas spirit? Yep, it’s a ghost, and I think I’m a little closer to it now.
I have to say, committing to write everyday until Christmas is taking a lot of time and energy, but I’m enjoying it. This blogging idea started out as a fun way to share my funny photo finds of crazy Christmas yard decor, but turned into more than that, I wanted to document the process of what an upside-down Christmas looks like for me and my family. These blogs are a bit more wordy than I had anticipated, but it they do tell the story, and in great detail.
The idea to write everyday was inspired by several people. Hank Stuever, for the way he can write about something controversial, yet word it to not be offensive, while painting a picture of the truth. The book Tinsel really has to make a person evaluate how they do Christmas. My assesment? If this book doesn’t give you some food for thought, then you need to find something that does. Allison Harrell, for her amazing writing skills. I will never type as fast as her (she has a letter jacket for typing), but I want to enhance my communication skills. Writing is not an easy thing for me like it is for her, or easy like photography, graphic design or altered art, but I do enjoy it with a sick kind of love / hate relationship. Another person is Jackson Robinson. He has committed to doing a painting everyday and he blogs it. These tiny masterpieces are painted by him every morning and look like they should be hanging in a gallery. Unbelieveable detail! And Robert Leahey, who took on a challenge to write a novel in one month, and successfully accomplished his mission.
Words are my friend. I feel better after journaling pages of handwritten words, I love doing typography art and my opinionated side loves to share my views with words. Even with all of those positive word attributes, words are also my enemy. I struggle to find them, I have a difficult time articulating them and my brain thinks in pictures, not words.
Turning Christmas upside-down has been a wonderful experience so far, but it came with some unexpected returns, deep feelings and a better understanding of my life and the way I live it. An experience of which I hope to put into words. Besides taking the money I would have spent on gifts for people and giving it to great causes, I still want to give something meaningful to my family and friends for Christmas. Something that is an expression of how I feel about them and something that inspires their creativity. I came up with the perfect thing, but I’m still in the creation process. It’s my little Christmas secret. I guess you’ll have to keep coming back and reading to find out what it is, or wait until you get one.
I guess I must really love words because I’m a book junkie. I have five bookcases in my house filled with books, an no, I didn’t pay full price for any of them. Over the years I have made several trips to Gladewater and there’s a small mom and pop type bookstore I’ve always wanted to visit. Most of the time I was there on Sunday and the bookstore was closed. Friday, it was open. I like buying books that have had previous owners, not only to save money, but for the chance of finding a book with a personal note in it, handwritten sentiments to someone I don’t even know. It’s like getting two stories in one, the story in the book and the found mysterious story. I love creating the rest of their story and incorporating it into my own.
As I was shopping in there for gifts for some of my close friends, I realized the books didn’t have any prices on them. I brought a stack to the front and asked where I could find the prices. The man at the counter said, “I’ll look them up, tell you the prices, then you can argue with me.” I immediately took a liking to him. I shopped a little longer, taking in the pleasing scent of old books, then finally made my way to the counter to argue with Pete. Pete and I talked for a long time about books, photography, art, Bible translations and people. I was telling him I could never work there because I would want to take everything home. He said I was too interesting to work there. That made me smile, as I like the word interesting more than quirky or weird.
Toward the end of our conversation, Pete was looking up a few books for me. I asked, “What did we ever do before Wikipedia and Google?” He replied, “We argued.” Now I’m really liking this guy. Pete, being of a slightly older generation than myself, and from what I could tell, progressively embracing the electronics age, I had to ask. “So, are you on Facebook?” Unfortunately he is not there… yet. He’s about to purchase a new digital camera and wanted some tips so I gave him my email address. He said, “I’m going to contact you and ask you camera questions. I guess you could just ignore my emails if you don’t want me bugging you.” I replied, “Nah, you’re too interesting to ignore.”
I gathered my new-old books, and headed for the car. Pete told me about an abandoned church right up the road, so of course, I had to stop there before heading home to Frisco. Words… books… what does any of this have to do with deep feelings and understanding life? I’ll tell you.
Shopping, or as I prefer to call it, treasure hunting for meaningful books made me think a lot more about the relationships in my life. Not just my friends and family, but in a deeper sense, people that are close to me, people that are acquaintances and people that I don’t even know. I’m not one of those crying, emotional types, as a matter of fact, I missed that line when God was passing out those genes. My face leaks about once a year, just to clean out the cobwebs in my tear ducts. I don’t express emotion through tears, I do it through art. Words are an art form, one I am learning, just like learning to have more meaningful relationships in my life. I have a deeper appreciation of the people I know, an admiration of their uniqueness and an understanding of what an important role that plays in all of our lives.
I don’t know if it was the death of my cousin or searching for meaningful gifts, or maybe it’s just the loneliness of the holiday season, but I have experienced some life change. It’s a feeling I have never felt before and one that I cannot put into words. I have a desire to live differently. This isn’t a passing thing, I have acted on it and am reordering my life around it.
The icons of Christmas that started this writing adventure are not the plastic Santa statues or the many strands of mismatched colored lights. The icons of Christmas are people, from the impoverished guy on the street corner with his ‘need help’ sign to my closest family and friends. The most important Christmas icon of all is Jesus, and I don’t mean the plastic one. The eight pound, six ounce baby Jesus that was born on December 25th.
Words to sum this up? If you are planning on turning Christmas upside-down, you better put on your seatbelt. It will turn your life upside-down.
These are pics from my art show in 2006. The show was called ‘excessable’. It about the excess in our society and the accessibility to a lot of stuff we don’t need. (iPhones are NOT included here!) Some of the details:
-All of the photographs are light painted. If you’re not familiar with this process, a camera shutter is opened in total darkness and the images are painted with flashlights that have color gels on them.
-The rug is made from 1296 gift cards.
-The wedding dress is a divorce dress. It has clocks on the front and a disturbing version of wedding vows on the back and all down the train.
I will post that later.I will post the individual images that are not on here.