You Need This... I Promise

They Need This I Promise

a Christmas spread from some year in the past... mine will only look like this for about six hours next week.

 

Christmas planning is a lot like household management and childcare and scheduling doctor's appointments and paying the bills and keeping the pantry stocked. There is a word for this kind of work, actually, that I learned a few years ago. "The mental load." The NYT described it pretty well as "an endless list of organizational tasks that runs through your head like ticker tape: We're out of milk when do we need to apply for preschool is the baby outgrowing her onesies." My girls are way too big for onesies but I recognized this job immediately. You hear about it a lot in feminist writing because – at risk of sounding sexist – it often falls on women. It's just a fact! Not in all households, but mine for sure.

Anyway, for me – and I think for a lot of people – making Christmas happen is absolutely part of the mental load. Don't get me wrong. Sid has been awesome at giving gifts for as long as I've known him. But his go-to is a sentimental note or a drawing that makes us smile. He could wrap a rock and make it feel special. But the thinking, the choosing, the buying, the organizing the spreadsheet, the wrapping… that is on me. (PS - 'spreadsheet' makes me sound organized, but remember that there are 7 people in my family… and no matter how old the girls get, there are always going to be hurt feelings when someone else is opening MORE stuff or BETTER stuff than you are. It is a LOT to keep track of.)

There was a nice little piece in Southern Living this month about our last-minute creative output when it comes to Christmas gifts. I won't bore you with a repeat, but we are all quite competitive with each other, and we spend as much time thinking about how funny or tender or clever we can make the note dashed across it as what's inside. So on Christmas Eve, after we finish up the tenderloin and potatoes and the rest of the family heads off to a midnight church service… my work begins. I will wrap and scribble and pour another glass of wine and it is actually so much fun. It may be 3am, but I will silently come downstairs with dozens of gifts and still be excited to watch everyone open them six hours later. So, for all the last-minute gifters out there who are like me… here is what's in my spreadsheet. I'll be running over to the store to grab them shortly.

1. Craighill Cal Bookends. If there are big readers in your life, the natural instinct is to get them books. But here is the thing—people are constantly getting them books. And they probably have a list a mile long of what they want to read already. A much better gift, I think, is some interesting looking bookends to squash a small collection within their collection together. These are organic and sleek and act almost like a piece of art. Two pieces of art! My daughter married someone with an even larger library than hers – I think they have over a thousand between the two of them – and I am thinking these will look fantastic on their wall of books.

2. Track Shorts. Again… always gifted in my family, always loved.

3. American Trench Women's Fair Isle Socks. I have snagged a few of these for my daughters but I am also hoping to get some myself. (Sid, are you reading?) I have ambitions of wearing them with Birkenstock-ish sandals or just on their own around the house.

4. Chup Nordic Wool Socks. This time for Sid. He's got his own Birkenstocks so maybe we can twin when we go on a date to the grocery store. Where else is there to go, anyway? And FYI, it isn't just us… I have had SO many of my friends tell me that their husbands' new favorite thing is to go to the grocery store? Is this a COVID phenomenon? A shifting of the mental load? TBD.

5. Claus Porto Soap. I love these SO much. Soaps are such an all-purpose gift because everyone could always use a restock… but the pretty wrapping of these makes them feel special. I think I may give a FAVORITO to each of my daughters in secret and tell them each that they are my favorite.

6. Cire Trudon Ex-Voto Decorative Hand Candle, Black. This hand candle looks so cool and it is BEGGING for a quip on the gift note. "Dear Sid… you are too hot to handle"? Could also be another bookcase objet d'art if you need something else for the bookworms in your life.

7. ECoffee Reusable Coffee Cup. One of my daughters is especially green… reduce, reuse, recycle, the whole thing. I mean, I recycle too, but when she moved to New York, I just felt this huge burden fall off my shoulders. The pressure of her gaze when I forgot to rinse the milk jug before tossing it in the bin! Overpowering! These make such a good gift for anyone who likes a hot drink on the go (and they are dishwasher safe which is a BIG plus in my book.)

8. Fur-Topped Beanie. have heard that one mark of a good gift is something that the recipient would love to have but wouldn't necessarily buy for themselves. A fur-topped hat is exactly that. Winter hat: a necessity. Winter hat with fur on it: a luxury.

9. Liberty Scrunchie. Lots of hair in my house. These are always a hit. Who can't use another hair tie? And if I really want to step it up I can throw in a mink one.

10. Swiss Army Knife. We have carried these in the store since day one because they are fun and colorful and so dang useful. They are not the kind of thing that people typically THINK to put on their Christmas list but I promise you that there is not a single person in your life who wouldn't appreciate these. Maybe not the second they open it, but give it a day or two. "Hey do you know where the scissors are?" "I think I got a splinter from the firewood." "Do you have something sharp and small? Like a toothpick or something?" Trust me. I can give another one to Sid – maybe this WSID one for his radio show that is now off the air. I am pretty sure his original WSID knife is in the bin at Hartsfield Jackson security with all the rest of his pocketknives.

11. Liberty Cosmetic Bags + Pouches. I love these so much. I want to give them AND get them. No travel plans anytime soon but in my head they are like purses for my bathroom. They are even better in multiples. One for makeup… one for vitamins and ibuprofen and dental floss… you get the picture.

12. Ann Mashburn Cashmere Cape. These wrap capes are so chic. And an especially good gift when so many people are stuck at home… they can curl up with this on the couch now, and then wear it "out" when it's time to head to the grocery store for another date night. And still a great post-pandemic piece. I feel like we will all never want to see another pair of sweatpants once this is all over, but this will stand the test of time. (And PS, Sid, if you're reading, I like the navy.)

Just a few ideas… and a bit of sentiment from me and mine to you and yours. Happiest of holidays to all of you. Enjoy each other in the year that we all have been reminded of how important we all are to each other.

See you in 2021!

From Ann

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