Friday, December 25, 2009

C is for Christmas. And Charity. And Cosmetics.

Christmas 2009. The (surprisingly symmetrical) tree was decorated by me with everything our sentimental ornaments collection had to offer:Christmas Tree 2009 (onemorehandbag) As my Dad doesn't appreciate nice gift wrapping (pearls before swine and all that) and actually delegates the unwrapping of his gifts to the person sitting next to him, I took extreme measures this year and bought a reusable sack which held all his presents:
Christmas sack (onemorehandbag)

In order to avoid too much waste of wrapping paper, I wrapped my Mum's and maternal granny's presents in a similar accumulatory fashion, reducing it to one package each. Other people did not stick to that rule and so it was the usual sight, post gift-unwrapping:

aftermath (onemorehandbag)Overall, the atmosphere was a bit melancholic. The weather was foggy and rainy all day and Mum and I had to walk to mass through lashing rain, avoiding puddles. The Beast's absence was perceptible in many ways...nobody begging for raw fondue meat, no cat goodies under the tree, no one miaowing a plaintive "hello" when you return from midnight mass, pretending to be absolutely STARVING. On the other hand, it was heart-warming to see my granny so happy. At first, she did not really want leave her OAP-proof comfort zone and spend Christmas Eve at my parents' where she knows there are stairs to climb (which she eventually masters with all three of us aiding her ascent and descent), but then she really enjoyed herself.
When I was smaller, especially when I still believed that "Christkind" brought all the presents, I used to get lots of gifts and receiving was of course way more exciting than giving. In recent years, I've had fewer things to unwrap under the tree and of course less surprise gifts. This mainly has to do with the fact that I open all the gifts I get in Vienna there and then as I really don't want to ferry even more things back and forth than neccessary.
Apart from my Dad's mother who despite everyone's protests still gives far too generous cash gifts on every occasion, all other elderly relatives have now "retired" from giving Christmas presents or sometimes even remembering the actualy dates of their loved one's birthdays. The fact that they live in a kind of time-warp or eternal holiday in their nursing homes and are not able to make gifts or keep track of weekdays does not mean that they don't like attention and receiving presents themselves. The older I get myself, the more grateful I am that I still have both grandmothers and that 2 of my three great-aunts who all used to dote over me and spoil me rotten when I was a little brat are still alive. I try to visit them as often as I can (even if it means hours of listening to the same stories over and over again, pretending to hear them for the very first time) and enjoy being able to spoil them for a change. The same holds true for my parents who of course more than deserve their fair share of spoiling as well.
When my parents asked me what I wanted this Christmas, I could not think of anything I wanted. Well, that's not to say I don't covet any earthly goods any more, but I know that my Mum considers luxury items à Tiffany's or Louis Vuitton terribly boring and vulgar and so I would rather bite my tongue than put such frivolities on the wishlist. As they have reached the age where they also "have everything", we agreed to restrict gift-giving to small, symbolic presents along the line of books and CDs this year. I asked for a subscription to Brand Eins, a magazine I regularly buy and hinted that I would not mind a Pandora charm. I got both of these and some "traditional" gifts I get every year, like a stone pendant made by my Dad or calendars made by both my parents. (We always exchange self-made calendars). Mum also got me a really beautiful cashmere sweater, pictured below with Dad's "jewellery":

I also got a voucher for a mini-trip to Venice from my Mum and the "traditional" € 100 from my Dad. There was one gift I was particularly looking forward to, however. It was no surprise, but it was a novelty for a Christmas present, a paiting bought at a charity exhibition Mum and I visited when I was in KLU in November. The exhibition was called "From Pain to Paint" and all paintings were by members of the Bindu Art School, mostly illiterate people with leprosy. Mum had set her eye on another painting which unfortunately was already sold, but then asked me if there was one I liked. There was:
Isn't it beautiful?

Before you think I have suddenly renounced all vain pleasures - I got lots of beauty-related stuff from friends and relatives (notably cousins) in Vienna - yay!

she's so vain (onemorehandbag)Chiquita and Amica (book) also provided fodder for my current japanophile phase. Another yay!

Japanese gifts (onemorehandbag)

I spent Christmas Day reading the German translation of Fun Home (one of the best books EVER in my opinion) which was among the books I gave my Mum and the first BRIGITTE with only lay models. In case you live in Germany and are wondering: Austrians get always get it 5 days before the official issue date in Germany. I also brought a stash of books to KLU, but want to read through some magazine backlog such as the ART magazine my parents have a subscription of, before. Another tradition...


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