At some point we asked our LCRW 19 contributors to send ideas for gifts they’d like to give or receive. Or, something (which thing does not have to be a Thing) that would be a good present to receive in January from someone who has gone and missed the whole darn holiday season. Not that we know anyone like that. Nope.
Updated with Laura’s somehow missed in the messy inbox.
3 grocery receipts totalling over $200
35 student essays: 19 on W.D. Snodgrass, 2 on Adrienne Rich, 2 on Ted Kooser (1 plaigiarized), 13 etc.
1165 calories in holiday chocolate, cheese, jam, and eggs at Investment Club Christmas Party
14 ideas to fix the public schools ranging from isolation to abandonment to inventing parents
1/12th share of 3 shares TM
2 whimpers from tired miniature dachsund long-haired terrier mix
a symphony on inconsolable grief through window from dog some blocks away, 1.5-2.5 hours in duration
1 (and only 1) glass Merlot
2 email; 1 confessing R.B.’s crush on E.D.; 1 requesting items received/desired
Pending or Desired:
breakfast in bed
1 student essay
the desire to walk around the block, sign up for Y yoga class, attend water aerobics, attempt health
elimination of poverty, mass education, behavioral training and awakening
12 whimpers from lively miniature dachsund long-haired terrier mix
2 (or 2 1/2) glasses of Rioja
1 slice tortilla Espana
—Laura Lee Washburn
I’d like someone to build me a home like Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House or his reconstructed townhouse in Glasgow. Sadly, it wouldnt fit inside an Xmas stocking. Photoshop CS probably would, but no one I know has that kind of money. Alternatively, someone could buy me a view, a window programmed to show anyplace on earth. It could even become a mirror reflecting back a room I dont actually live in, in a house I could never afford—like the master bedroom at Hill House. Unfortunately, such a view would also cost money, and would certainly be difficult to fit inside a stocking.
—Kara Kellar Bell
My wife and I never seem to get it together to write a “Christmas” letter in time for Christmas. So, taking a cue from my brother who at one time sent out “Ash Wednesday” letters to mock the whole holiday letter thing, we decided to call our Christmas letter a “New Year’s” letter and tried to get it out in January. Success! But only for that first year. Not meeting the January deadline the following year, we ranamed our missive an “Annual” letter, thinking that gave us several months to get it out to friends and relatives. That worked for a couple of years, but last year, although we eventually got around to writing something, we did not manage to get it out within the first half of the year and so embarrassment kept us from sending the letter out at all.
But now, with a letter in hand, we are thinking about recycling…our lives are pretty much the same from year to year, so who will know the difference?
I’ve decided that I want a set of bagpipes for Christmas this year. I heard them playing in Edinburgh this summer, bagpipes, attached to guys in kilts, a basket for money in front of them, awaiting a Euro here, a Euro there. The music was beautiful.
That’s not the real reason I covet bagpipes. I started playing guitar when I was 10 years old. I would have been a very successful musician except for one thing: I lack talent. My son started playing guitar when he was 10 years old and after the first hour I could tell that he would be better than I ever hoped to be. Similar things happened with the piano.
My son went on to get a B.A. in music.
I want to be able to play an instrument that my son can’t play better than I can. I will practice and lock the bagpipes in the closet when my son visits. I don’t want a repeat of that ugly Thanksgiving meal in 1998, when I played a number that I’d been practicing for three months on the harmonica. I showed my son how the scale was organized on the harmonica. By the end of the night, he was playing Beethoven’s sixth symphony on it, and an early Grateful Dead number, all from memory.
So, to draw this story to a conclusion, I will admit that I’m going to buy bagpipes on the internet, and give it to my wife to give to me for Christmas.
This Non-Denominational Gift Giving Season, I would very much like to receive harmonicas in any natural minor or harmonic minor key. As for those who miss the season entirely, I suggest the give the gift of bees. Giving bees clearly communicates the core message: “It was no accident that I failed to give you a Christmas, Chanukah or Kwanzaa present.”
—David Erik Nelson
I’m thinking of giving my mother a ride in hot air balloon over the Arizona desert this year. The balloon will be red and green and yellow and the basket will brown wicker, and everything will be so high and quiet up there above the bugs. The Saguaro cacti will stand around with their hands up. She’ll be able to see her house in Phoenix in one direction and way over there the house where I grew up, with rolling hills, mesas, and a couple of deep canyons between the two. The Gila River, the Superstition Mountains, the town of Globe where there is both a Serbian and a Croatian cemetery.
I’ll confess that I’ve been bothered by the cupie doll nature of this seasonal gift-giving, and all its bows and wrappings that send beautiful, toxic flames up the chimney. I’m giving Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder, about the remarkable Dr. Paul Farmer and his personal war against AIDS and multi resistant TB in the poorest places in the world, centered in Haiti. The man, the stories, Kidder’s writing, all wonderful. Restores faith in what we can be; it was all I could do, when I finished the book, to not stop everything and go help this man and Ophelia Dahl, Roald Dahl’s daughter. So folded into the copy of the book, I’m also giving donations to their Partner’s In Health in the name of the people I’m giving the book to.
I’m also interested in receiving such gifts. There is so much suffering, think what $30, multiplied by the millions of desperate gift givers, could do in the right hands.
A government of the people, for the people and by the people would be nice.