Friday, December 30, 2011

Gatherings and Gifts

Christmas was full of disbelief and wonder this year. Although I'm surrounded by the busyness of living in L.A., there's a loneliness that runs rampid here. In this industry-driven town mostly made up of people who place their own aspirations over friendships, I can often be left feeling disregarded and unloved.

After a week of too much self-pity, I opened my mailbox to a beautiful card from my dear friend Berkeley. It was stuffed with a typewriter medalion necklace (as a celebration for a new writing internship I landed with Zooey Magazine), a shoe-themed notecard set, and a gift card to my favorite non-vintage but still vintage inspired store Anthropologie. I can't even express how her thoughtfulness warmed my heart and prompted me to stop this needless concentration on what I lacked. I have amazing friendships in my life and although I don't get to have them near me on a daily basis, I do have them sprinkled around the country. I left L.A. for the bay area with that crucial It's A Wonderful Life reminder that we all need to receive sometimes: I matter.

Despite wishing that my brother was available to partake in the Christmas madness (he's at boot camp),  I still had that earnest feeling where I wake up in the morning wanting to kick my legs with glee and jump out of bed so I wouldn't miss a moment of the day. Still a bit of a kid I suppose. When I was a child, however, this excitement was ignited by wanting to run out and see what Mama Santa (see post from 12/23/11) left me under the tree. A Barbie doll? A new Nancy Drew mystery? A board game or puzzle? This year it wasn't about gifts though. My Mom and I had already decided that gifts wouldn't be exchanged because all I had wanted was help paying for a much needed MRI. My Mom had so graciously paid for the entire test, so now it was purely the anticipation of spending time with family and friends that I don't get to see often enough...the people in my life that make me feel like a priority.

Coming downstairs to a delicious breakfast of baked french toast and a citrus fruit salad and catch-up conversation with Steve and Wanda (my second set of parents whom I lived with for three years), Christmas already began with joy. As I was leaving to spend the rest of the day with my parents and family friends Dan and Rebecca, Wanda shocked me by handing me Christmas presents I didn't expect. Wanda always really takes the time to pick out items that she knows the recipent will love, and this time was no exception. I unwrapped a 1950's vintage cream cardigan she found at a rummage sale, a white dachshund ring dish and a pair of gorgeous jeweled barretts from Anthropologie. I didn't even know what to say as I left.

When I finally made it over to the home of Dan and Rebecca, where my parents were staying, my heart had been so touched by the thoughtfulness of Steve and Wanda, my family friend Marcie who gave me a book about a vintage shop owner called A Vintage Affair the night before at her Christmas Eve gathering, and Berkeley earlier that week, that I seriously thought there wasn't going to be room to store the love shown me inside my heart when Rebecca handed me the gifts she had bought for me. Vintage style Coca-Cola glasses, a knitted dachshund ornament, a kitchen dish towel and wine stopper from their recent travels to Italy, the book Sarah's Key (which I already borrowed from my Mom and read but absolutely adored), dark chocolate from their trip to Switzerland (yes, it's already been downed), and a coffee table book entitled Under the Tree: The Toys and Treats that Made Christmas Special 1930-1970. I couldn't believe they had done this much for me when they have two of their own children to buy for, daughters-in-laws, eight grandchildren, and so on and so on.

My parents weren't suppossed to buy me anything. We had made an agreement. She told me on the phone that she got me a few stocking stuffers...I was expecting maybe some soaps or nail polishes, but she definitely held onto her title of Mama Santa. I was the last person in the living room still tearing off wrapping paper. Everyone else had gone into the kitchen for tasty treats or gone to play with their new toys as I sat by myself in awe. I had people in my life that cared so much about me that they took the time to not only pick something out for me, but carefully considered what I would most appreciate.

Since Christmas wasn't going to be at home this year, I didn't really comprehend what it was going to be like and didn't go out and buy gifts like I normally would. I was left feeling completely humbled by this display of love and wanted so badly to give back but had nothing but cards for them. I had failed in demonstrating how much they mattered to me. All I could do was thank each of them, eat with them, commune with them, laugh with them, play games with them, accept the love they had to share...and hope that I could someday have the capacity to show them how much they each mean to me.


Jaime, me, Gus, my Mom.

Susan Groves, my Mom, me, Gus.

Jaime in a homemade knitted Santa cap.

My Mom.
My Mom with Rebecca.


A Chipmunk fan I am.

Gus relaxing.

Maecie and I.

Gus and I enjoying Christmas Eve.

Christmas morning.

Ariana was in just as much awe as I..

A Christmas performance of the nativity story by Rebecca's grandkids. 

Wanda cookinag away.

Steve about to be merry.

Rebecca, my Mom, Wanda.

Jaime and my Mom still affectionate after 19 years.

Jaime and Rebecca

Cream and green buttoned cardigan from Anthropologie; 1960's vintage red, black and yellow wool skirt from Jet Rags; black tights and red vintage heels (not pictured.)

Red and black plaid flannel top from Anthropologie; silver dangly earrings from Varga; black and silver bow hair clip from Urban Outfitters; tan plaid skirt from Urban Outfitters; black tights and white 1960's heels.

                            THE VINTAGE GIFTS I RECEIVED:

This book reminices over all that is both old and Christmas.

1950's white cardigan.

Vintage kitchen decals.

1950's brown and gold evening purse.

Amber plastic jewelry case.

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