Thursday, December 27, 2007

Touch wood

I claim to be agnostic, religionless and skeptical. Which is why you could wonder why I'm concerned by superstitious beliefs (Exhibit A.)

It's not that I believe, but rather that I don't want to jinx it.

Pertinent to the impending 2008, I don't think it would hurt to:

- Make a New Year's resolution (a tradition that dates back to the early Babylonians. Who would want to mess with a thousand year habit?)
- Pay off all the bills
- Let the old year out by opening all the windows
- Make sure the house is in absolute, pristine order. (Not because I'm obsessive about it, of course, but because I'm preparing for the coming year.)
- Stock up, to guarantee prosperity
- Make loud noises to scare away evil spirits
- Light candles near windows
- Kiss at midnight
- Jump up and down
- Work a little on the first day of the year
- Wear something new
- Hold a piece of silver or gold
- Eat black-eyed peas or lentils
- Eat a grape for each month as the clock strikes twelve (which complicates the kissing. But, hey, I can multitask.)

Finally, my birthday is January 3. Being born so early in the year signifies rebirth and good luck. Tell me, why wouldn’t I choose to believe in that?

(Photo by Luca)

Friday, December 21, 2007

The perfect gift

Every Christmas, I search far and wide for the perfect gift for my husband. The criteria is threefold: it has to be something he will use often (if he’s going to think of me when he uses it, then ideally that would be frequently), something he would never get for himself, and (suspenseful music for emphasis, please) something he wouldn’t ever imagine receiving. As I’m sure you know by now, the surprise element is of the essence.

In the ten years that we’ve been together, I’m proud to say I’ve been a successful gift giver multiple times: a recliner he likes to read on every weekend, a suitcase he goes on business trips with, the watch he uses every day, the iPod where he stores all his music, and Tivo, without which he would miss out on critical soccer matches (misery would ensue.)

Yes, I’ve also missed the mark a number of times, presenting him with something I was sure he’d use only to find it in a drawer, forgotten and untouched. By way of example, Luca is a gifted chopper, so I got him a super sharp, amazing looking Japanese knife he liked in concept but then never wielded (which, now that I think of it, is probably a good thing.)

You’ll never guess, though, what is, in my opinion, the best gift I’ve ever given him.

A pillow.

A cylinder shaped, ultra plushy, irresistibly soft, trademarked nap pillow.

When he opened the box it came in he was somewhat dubious. He took it out and petted it. He hugged it to his chest. Then he set it aside. That marked the beginning of a lasting relationship. He not only sleeps with the pillow every night, he actually travels with it. Said pillow (deliriously romantic music, please) even has a name.

I am quite proud of what I put under our tree this year (which of course I can’t disclose here, at least not until after December 25), but I know deep down I risk never coming close to what I accomplished that fine Christmas day.

(Photo from Brookstone; actual image of pillow.)

Monday, December 17, 2007

The omen

I will begin 2008 by packing up my house and storing almost everything I own in boxes for about a month (long story).

A part of me wonders what will bode for me on a year that starts with this kind of uprooting.

Another part of me feels that the year will begin with renewal and the excitement of a worthwhile project.

This is good.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I don’t like surprises. I would be disoriented and would probably feel trespassed if someone threw a surprise party for me (hint: don’t); and I’ll go as far as to say I’m not even that attracted to the idea of a wrapped gift.

In typical Grinch style, I’ve suggested to Luca that we just go shopping a few days after Christmas so I can pick what I want. This way, I’ll like it, I will use it, and most importantly, I’ll know what it is. (What would be the fun in that, he thinks.)

Luca, on the other hand, loves surprises. He loves the anticipation. He loves not knowing what he’s going to get – even if it means he might not like the gift once he opens it. (What a waste, I think, if he can just tell me what he wants.)

Every Christmas, loving him and wanting to do for him what I would like done for me, I go down a list of things I think he’d like, looking for an approving reaction. When my guess is correct, he looks at me in dismay. “That would have been so great” he’ll say longingly “but now it won’t be a surprise.”

Every Christmas, loving me and wanting to do for me what he’d like done for himself, he places a carefully, beautifully wrapped gift near our fireplace. “What is it?” I ask, looking at it suspiciously. “You know I can’t tell you” he’ll say. “You’ll have to wait until Christmas”. He beams. I groan.

If he ever does listen to me and determines not to go out and buy me a gift, I’ll feel I took Christmas from him. And we’ve briefly considered having him buy the gift I choose, and having me surprise him with something wrapped, but we agree that won’t do. The fun is in the sharing of the experience, we assure each other.

Luckily, we’re both good at choosing gifts for the other so at the end of the day, I’m pleasantly surprised, as oxymoronic as that sounds in my world. And he’s surprised, then pleased (which would be something like triple-pleased, in his world.)

So who can you relate to more? Would you rather know what you’re getting and receive exactly what you asked for, sacrificing the surprise element; or do you prefer the anticipation?

(Photo from Red Envelope catalogue.)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

More sunrises

For reasons I hope are obvious, I often (O.K. - almost always) deny myself the pleasure of getting up really, really early in the morning.

For the past ten days I’ve been waking a little before 5:00 a.m. Initially it was due to jet lag, but then I decided to ride it for as long as I could.

The world is dark and quiet and I get to witness it coming to life which lends a certain strange, unexpected, detached humor to the way my day unfolds. It feels like I’m watching a movie, maybe written by Fellini - which I’m not sure is a favorable portrayal of my life and the way I view it, but I must get back to the intended subject - ah, yes. Getting up early.

I see the sun rise (what a waste, to have missed so many) and my wish of needing more time is suddenly granted: at least two extra hours, which is nearly an extra day a week.

The potential is stupendous. Just think - what would you do if your week had an extra day?

I’ve got to do this more often.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

It's the little things

My new toothbrush has soft, tightly packed, tapered bristles, a tongue cleaner and polishing cups. It’s called “Colgate 360”. I’m really sorry that this sounds like an ad (and particularly sorry that if it is, I’m not getting paid for it.) But you’ll understand why it deserves a mention if you try it.