Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Trees and the Single Gal

I like a tree that grew in the woods. I like the smell. But what a lot of work and expense for one person!

True, I could own and assemble annually an artificial Christmas , but I've never liked them. The only artificial trees that interest me are really artificial, impossible to mistake for something that grew.

My friend Diane sent me a link to some ideas. I like a lot of the little tabletop trees, but I wanted something bigger. Here's what I did:

Then I set out into the cold for lettuce at the food co-op. As I walked along, I passed the home and garden of some wonderfully creative folks at a nearby cul-de-sac. This is what they did with their bean tipis. I'm thinking I'd like to build one of these next summer and keep it as my annual Christmas tree.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying my tree of lights.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gifts of Love

So I took a look at that love languages site yesterday, after posting my blog. It features a self-test, one of those horrible ones where you have to choose, again and again, between two things, both of which you would love or hate equally.

I know I'm not a big gift person, but I was amazed to see that I had not one single score in the gift category.

By the end of the day yesterday, I knew why.

Even now, my dining table is still covered in wrapping paper, tape, scissors, and ribbons. Yesterday morning I was busy baking cookies before I went off to tutor. When I got home at 1:15, between having a cup of tea and getting on the bus for a downtown appointment at 3, my goal was to box up the cookies and fit them into the box of Christmas packages and take them to the post office and stand in line and get them all mailed without spending every cent in my bank account! (Does that sound like fun? Not to me!)

So when I took the love languages quiz yesterday, "gifts" looked like nothing but work to me.

However! When I got home from my downtown appointment, I could see two packages through the glass door to my condo foyer. Might they be for me? They were! And at school yesterday, some of the teachers were talking about Chex party mix, and until then, I had completely forgotten that Chex mix is usually a feature of the package my mom sends to me. I opened her package, and there was a note saying, "When this box arrives, make a cup of tea and call me." Which I am looking forward to doing today, because I know she has made me cookies too.

But I went right ahead and opened my Chex mix. I dole it out to me, bit by bit. Mmm.

I know sometimes Mom has frustrating days making all the goodies she sends out to her kids around the country, but I also know for sure how much love she bakes into everything. I can't help but feel thoroughly loved via her gifts.

I'll bet if I took the love languages quiz again today, I'd score a lot higher on the gifts end of things.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Speaking Love

I might be one of the few people left in America who was only generally familiar with Gary Chapman's love languages idea. (His book, The Five Love Languages, has been a NYT bestseller for about five years, I believe.)

And I read it by accident. I was trying to learn how to download audiobooks from my library to my iPhone, quickly scanning titles while a helpful librarian waited, and I clicked Chapman's book for singles. I'm almost done listening to it -- and I want to thank you, Gary, for helping me get through unpacking my suitcase, wrapping my presents, and baking my Christmas cookies.

For my own benefit as much as yours, I'm going to review the languages here. 

They are: 

Words of affirmation
Acts of service
Physical touch
Quality time

Sadly, a guy can do acts of service until he turns blue, but if his woman's love language is quality time, she's annoyed the whole time he's out mowing the lawn. And vice versa.

Of course, this info is helpful all the way down the family and among friends too. One of my best friends speaks the language of gifts, I think, because she almost never comes to my house without one. Gifts aren't one of my chief love languages -- though if you got me something for Christmas, do send it! But now that I'm thinking this about my friend, I will be way more excited about the pastries she brings, and I will see them as expressing her love for me (as opposed to, say, her fear I won't have anything decent to serve with tea!). 

This is important: something that wouldn't in itself mean a lot to me has huge meaning when I realize where it's coming from!

It might be fun to think about the languages when you spend time with family over the holidays.  Be a detective. Try an experiment. Let me know how it works.

Friday, December 14, 2012

So Nice to Come Home to...

I just spent nine days in Sayulita, Mexico, at the lovely compound of a friend from the Seattle area. I don't even have to tell you how nice it was; I'm sure you're already picturing blue skies and sea, adobe buildings of bright whites and rich colors, afternoons where you can be perfectly warm in a wet swimsuit out of the damaging rays of the sun, fish tacos and shrimp tostadas and Mexican beer and margaritas.

For me, being part of a family was another pleasure. Cooking together, playing Bananagrams and Mexican Train and Hearts, one night watching the DVD of Temple Grandin, which, by the way, was terrific.

What worried me a little was what coming home would be like, here in the bleak midwinter of Seattle. As I write, at 4:45 pm, it's already dark; it wasn't light this morning here until 8 (can that be right?).

But as I got off my bus last night and walked home in the light drizzle and the darkness, I was happy. True, there was no one at home to say "welcome back," but my house said it.

I had lots to look forward to, coming home. I taught my kindergartners today, and tonight I go dancing. Cuban lunch tomorrow at a friend's house, after I go to the market for cookie baking supplies, and stop at the library, where Richard Ford's latest novel, Canada, has come in for me, as well as Season One of Friday Night Lights (I stumbled upon Season Four, and am eager to see the whole series). More dancing tomorrow night, church Sunday and another dance and a party that night. No time to feel lonely.

Being gone until this late in the overextended American Christmas season means I'm home just in time to start getting excited about the holiday. I've been wrapping presents this afternoon, preparing for mailing, while listening to Christmas music on Pandora. I was trying to figure out how to make a Christmas tree of metal or wood or an old branch, just something to hang some lights and favorite ornaments on, without the big hassle of a real tree for a single lady. Then I figured out I can hang lights across the big opening from my kitchen to my dining room, and hang ornaments on that.

Feeling good.

All material copyright © 2009 by Mary Davies