See, I love Christmas. Yes, even though I am an atheistic curmudgeon who will go on about Saturnalia and Sol Invictus if given half a chance. This would be because I love getting things for people, and I love singing all the carols (especially the traditional ones) because they are beautiful on their own merits, and I love the decorations. I love the secularization of the whole thing. I love the general "it's cold and miserable outside, so we are damn well going to have fun" aspect of the winter holidays, too. I love my mother, who will do things like make Christmas latkes. I love the Christmas Eve shrimp, even if it is an acquired taste, and I love the family gatherings.
But most of all, I like getting things. Especially awesome things. And especially if my gifters let me pick out my own gifts, or give me money to purchase things I would like for myself. (In my family, we have given up the old "you must guess what I really want to PROVE YOUR LOVE" shit and ask eachother to write up lists of stuff we would actually like, with the result that Christmas has very few of those weird "oh, you shouldn't have... you REALLY shouldn't have..." moments. I think this is an excellent custom, and one which should be more widespread in the general culture as eliminating a lot of anxiety about the whole process.)
This year, my mother bought me the best outfit EVER. And you know, it's pretty femme compared to what I'm used to. (Soft tangerine nice sweater, long brown skirt with the best soft suede-like texture ever, and a pair of awesome boots, below. Also a nice black wool peacoat, which I am hoping will function adequately at keeping me warm.)
They are more high-heeled than anything I've ever worn by choice, and yet they look so fantastic that I am trying to calculate how much foot pain I am willing to put up with in order to wear them more often. Wonder how much of that will last beyond the OMG SHINY stage, but it's worth thinking about. I have been this excited about a pair of shoes exactly once in my life before, and those are my beloved twenty-year-old steel-toe hiking boots that I gradually stole from my mother. Not exactly chic, here.
The funny thing is, this is one of the most clothes-heavy Christmases I've ever had. I got all that, plus a shirt that I really am ("ehhh" about), a fantastically soft blue fuzzy pullover that looks to be one of my new favorites, and a promised hand-knitted scarf from J. On previous years, this would have been a sign of disaster--I have always prized getting books and music above clothes. And yet this year I got no books at all, though I did get an iTunes gift card. (That's partially because the abovementioned clothing items are expensive, and also because my parents are cutting back as my little sister K gets ready to go to college.) The gift card was from K, and was also a big hit, but I didn't squee over it nearly as hard as I did some of the clothing items. I think I'm finally feeling ready to experiment with the aesthetics of my dress, and this lot is one of my attempts at dipping my little toesies in the big waters of Looking Nice. Which is fine--I am sufficiently picky and trust my taste enough to be sure that I'll be keeping this lot for years and years to come.
Other fantastic gifts included the aforementioned iTunes gift card, which heralded my first big experiment with iTunes. Yes, yes, I am behind the times, but I generally prefer to buy hard-copy CDs. (Mostly, to be frank, because I fear my computer crashing and all my music going with it, and because I dislike DRM. I never pirate music, dammit, I should be able to keep the music I paid for as long as I like.) I went on a gleeful spending spree with that one, and even put in an extra $7 or so so I could purchase the whole of that Flogging Molly album I wanted. And also I did get books after all--I forgot about my friend L, who gave me a novel whose title I can't recall at the moment (okay, but probably won't reread all that often) and Stiff
(which I have secretly yearned after to have my own copy of for YEARS, and which is definitely a recurring favorite). There was also the tea set with two Christmas mugs (excellent, I always have a need for new mugs so I don't have to do washing as often) from my paternal grandmother, and more bafflingly the necklace it came with featuring a small silver snail on a large crystal mushroom. After some bemusement, I have decided that it is lovely and shiny, and shall therefore be worn with some regularity.
And then there's what I bought for myself. Figuring it was the holidays and there were SALES and I could afford to splurge, I got some nice awesome gifts for myself. First I got my own copy of Season One of The Big Bang Theory
, so now I have decent-quality copies of it to watch when I feel like distracting myself. Then I realized that OMG Ursula Vernon's teas might possibly be discontinued, so I bought up Predatory Peppermint and Shoggoth Jasmine so that I could own those tins as well. (I actually have some peppermint tea already and I'm still not sure whether I like jasmine, but the tins were so wonderful I had to have them. I mean, Shoggoth Jasmine! If they turn out to be really horrible, I can always give the tea itself away and reuse the tins.)
All this was followed by the all-time topper: A few nights before New Year's Eve, I was talking to J online about a new online store she'd found--English Tea Store
. And I was all "oh, eh, I'd like to buy some PG Tips black tea for special occasions, but I am purchased out." And then I glanced idly over at the teapots, as I am wont to do. For years on years I have wanted a teapot suitable for two mugs of tea at a time and with its own strainer, so that I don't have to use the blasted fiddly little tea balls all the time. Alas, I had dismissed the idea as being too expensive for now--my general purchase limit is $30 at once, because I have limited funds which must last as long as possible--so I had only planned to glance at the teapots and writhe in sadness that I could not afford one with its own strainer, and my own personal teapot had been a gift and was too weirdly shaped to accommodate anything but a tea ball.
And then I found this section labelled "Cheap Infuser Teapots" and was confronted with an array of aesthetically pleasing teapots matching my exact specifications--AND in a bunch of pleasing colors. I waffled to J for a while about how I was not sure which color I would hypothetically buy if I chose to purchase one of them, but I think we both knew I was coming home with a teapot.
The one I eventually chose:
Just look at its pleasingly cheery yellow goodness.
I think it's been unequivocally an excellent holiday season. The only way it would have been better would have been if I'd been able to actually get together in a big crowd and sing some of those carols, and I'm sure I can convince someone--maybe I--to sing them with me even if I can't actually sing. Or possibly I'll do what I do the rest of the time and march down the street belting out "We Three Kings" in all its bizarre glory.