lunadelcorvo: (Xmas-Father Christmas Polar Bear)
Wow, after the one on the seventh, I'm not sure I could come up with another one! So many of the things I treasure most, ironically, are things that either belonged to my family, or were given in far humbler circumstances. That's not to say that I haven't been given a lifetime of amazing and wonderful gifts for Christmas, I have. And of course, so many of them were handmade - one never thinks of it, but the things that are unique really are the treasures.

So naturally, my mind goes back to being a kid, and thinking of all the gifts I got as a child: a handmade leopard-print fur bathrobe that I wore 'til all the fur came off and it was up above my knees, the Orca (killer whale) plush that my mom made after her own pattern, because I wanted one desperately and they didn't make them back then (Oh, how I loved Orky!).

Then, on a slightly different note, was they year my not-yet husband gave me box after box of the most dreadful clothes! Truly trashy, pink-n-sparkles stuff; it was awful! I tried so hard to be...politic, all the while thinking he'd lost his mind! And he let me suffer through every damn box, trying to find something nice to say with each one. Then he finally cracked, and told me that he wanted me to be able to go shopping for myself since he wasn't sure what I'd like. So, he bought all this stuff, so I could return it and have myself a shopping spree. He figured that was more fun that just giving me a gift card - for him at least! I'm not sure I recall a single thing I bought, but I still crack up when I think of that rascal sitting there watching me squirm!

So I guess, when it comes to favorite gifts, it really IS the thought, and the love, that counts!
lunadelcorvo: (Ferocious rabbit)
This is easy. When I was seven, I think, my grandparents and my mom made me a castle. Not a silly little toy castle. This was the most amazing thing you could imagine, to say nothing of the astonished wonder of a child.

It stood four feet high, fashioned from a wooden bookshelf. Three floors, carpeted staircases, chandeliers, a garden, a balcony, stained glass windows, a tower. A ballroom with tiled floors and thrones for the kind and queen. The royal bedroom, in red and purple velvet and brocade. The princesses' room, green and gold and just a hint of pink. In the round, crenelated tower, a witch, a spinning wheel, and a little half-round bench hand carved by my grandfather. There were two princes, two princesses, the king, queen, the king's brother. There was a witch, a giant, and a fairy. Each one had clothing made by hand. There was a horse and carriage and a garden with trees, a cobbled path and a fountain with water lilies. Every inch of the outside was lovingly carved into stones, even the fronts of the drawers that made up the bottom of the shelf.

When I came down Christmas morning, there it sat, nearly as tall as I was, gleaming, the lights shimmering from the golds and silvers, from the metallic brocades and the crystal chandeliers. When I went back to school in january, we were to write a story about our favorite present, and draw a picture. I got in trouble for making things up, and when the teacher called my mom to report me, my mom had to set her straight.

I have only two very poor photos of it, and, I am sorry to say, I no longer have it. When I had to move to California, I donated it to a children's museum. I came back a year later, and they had sold it. I have no idea where it is, or who now has this rare treasure crafted by the hands of my family. But there has never been a handmade gift like that one....



Things I need to remember:
• Asking for help is not, as it turns out, fatal.
• Laughing is easier than pulling your hair out, and doesn't have the unfortunate side effect of making you look like a plague victim.
• Even the biggest tasks can be defeated if taken a bit at a time.
• I can write a paper the night before it's due, but the results are not all they could be.
• Be thorough, but focused.
• Trust yourself.
• Honesty, always.

Historians are the Cassandras of the Humanities



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