Well, normally I receive not so good Christmas gifts. No, I am not hard to please. I don't ask for diamonds or things out of anyone's price range. In fact, I normally don't ask for anything. To me, I truly believe it's the thought that counts.
That is until your husband buys you pots and pans. I received a set one year for Christmas from my own husband and it was the ONLY gift I received from him that year. Yeah, that one wasn't so good. I felt unloved and unappreciated.
Then there was the one Christmas when the only thing I received was a Colts bobblehead. Now, don't get me wrong, I love the Indianapolis Colts, but a bobblehead? It confounded me. I looked underneath it, inside it's head, anywhere I could to try to discover the "clue" to the real gift. It was the real gift and I was not happy about it.
Well, this year hubby did a fabulous job. First and foremost, he bought me books. I LOVE books ... and yet he went a bit further, he bought only classic novels he knows I haven't read. Oh, joy! Don Quixote, the Iliad, Tristan and Iseult ... the list goes on.
Then he actually proved that he paid attention to me and my "oohs and ahs" when watching television chefs ... I was the receiver of a brand spanking new French press. Although I am not a lover of the French, I am now a devoted fan to the French press. If you are a coffee enthusiast, this one's for you!
Then hubby went out on a limb and bought me a tea kettle. A $100 tea kettle. It's copper clad with silver, needs to be polished, but is guaranteed for generations of use. I like tea and tea kettles, but never would have paid this much for one. Still, it is lovely, boils water quickly, and so far has not needed to be polished.
I truly enjoy a stuffed stocking and hubby stuffed mine well this Christmas. (no naughty innuendos here) Just chocolates and little cute candies, flavored cutsie glosses, simple stuff, but the best part of Christmas were the name tags my husband wrote to me.
He picked a theme of "famous lovers throughout history."
I sighed at receiving, "To Cleopatra, From Marc Antony."
I smiled when reading, "To Helen, From Paris."
I giggled at, "To Minnie, From Mickey" and "To Yoko, From John."
Then things started to get a bit strange.
"To Nicole from O.J," and ending with, "To Neil Patrick Harris, From Dr. Will."
That was my favorite part of gift getting though ... proving it really is the thought that counts!
So, what about you? Any favorite parts of the gift giving season? Favorite gifts or moments? I'd like to read about them when you have the time.
Over at the Pole Hill sanitarium, the doctor saw fit to tag me for this simple, but intriguing book exercise. (Thanks!) And thanks to hubby for buying me a whole bunch of books this Christmas. He couldn't resist and I received a few early, but the nearest one to me is the one I whole grab ... the one I couldn't help but start reading even though I wasn't finished with Tristan and Iseult.
The rules are as such:
1. Find the nearest book. 2. Name the book. 3. Name the author. 4. Turn to page 123. 5. Go to the fifth sentence on the page. 6. Copy the next three sentences and post to your blog. 7. Tag three more lucky souls.
And without further adieu ...
1. Got it. 2. The Picture of Dorian Gray. 3. Oscar Wilde 4. Okay ... 5. Got it ... 6. "Over and over again Dorian used to read this fantastic chapter, and over the two chapters immediately following, in which, as in some curious tapestries or cunningly wrought enamels, were pictured the awful and beautiful forms of those whom vice and blood and weariness had made monstrous or mad; Filippo, Duke of Milan, who slew his wife and painted her lips with a scarlet poison that her lover might suck death from the death thing he fondled; Pietro Barbi, the Venetian, known as Paul the Second, who sought in his vanity to assume the title of Formosus, and whose tiara, valued at two hundred thousand florins, was bought at the price of a terrible sin; Gian Maria Visconti, who used hounds to chase living men and whose murdered body was covered with roses by a harlot who had loved him; the Borgia on his white horse, with Fratricide riding beside him and his mantle stained with the blood of Perotto; Pietro Riario, the young Cardinal Archbishop of Florence, child and minion of Sixtus IV, whose beauty was equaled only by his debauchery, and who received Leonora of Aragon in a pavilion of white and crimson silk, filled with nymphs and centaurs, and gilded a boy that me might serve at the feast as Ganymede or Hylas; Ezzelin, whose melancholy could be cured only by the spectacle of death, and who had a passion for red blood, and other men have for red wine - the son of the Fiend, as was reported, and one who had cheated his father at dice when gambling with him for his own soul; Giambattista Cibo, who in mockery took the name of Innocent and into whose torpid veins the blood of three lads was infused by a Jewish doctor; Sigismondo Malatesta, the lover of Isotta and the lord of Rimini, whose effigy was burned at Rome as the enemy of God and man, who strangled Polyssena with a napkin, and gave poison to Ginevra d'Este in a cup of emerald, and in honour of a shameful passion built a pagan church for Christian worship; Charles VI, who had so wildly adored his brother's wife that a leper had warned him of the insanity that was coming on him, and who, when his brain had sickened and grown strange, could only be soothed by Saracen cards painted with the images of Love and Death and Madness; and in his trimmed jerkin and jewelled cap and acanthus-like curls, Grifonetto Baglioni, who slew Astorre with his bride, and Simonetto with his page, and whose comeliness was such that, as he lay dying in the yellow piazza of Perugia, those who had hated him could not choose but weep, and Atalanta, who had cursed him, blessed him. There was a horrible fascination in them all. He saw them at night, and they troubled his imagination in the day."
(And holy shite, the first sentence was more like 50!!)
Anyhow, I tag Sheri (Days of Deerledge), Fermicat (Cosmicat), and Scott (Hard to Want). =) At your leisures, of course.
The best of holidays to you and yours, everywhere and everyone.
Over thirteen years of being with the same company, six months ago, my husband, John, finally made the switch. In those thirteen years, he never missed a day of work, a fact both of us are pretty proud to repeat. John is dedicated and hard working. He never works a shorter week than anyone else in his department because as he likes to say, "You should be willing to do more, not less."
The company he once loved fell into disarray. Mismanagement, misconduct, workers snorting cocaine in the change room, personal phone calls continually coming in at work, personal computer time at work -- just not good business sense and a personal pet peeve of mine. You're at work to work, not to e-mail, chat, IM, or talk on the phone, people. Grrr!
Anyhow, when a new company not only offered my husband a lot more money, but a chance to work for a company who values hard work AND the employees who do it, it was an offer he couldn't refuse.
John started out as a big engine mechanic. Most of his life was spent managing until the last two where he just couldn't take it anymore. He said managing grown men and women became more like parenting them -- call offs, no shows, and all the rest of it. "I don't expect anyone to do anything more than what I'm doing and I show up every day without complaint." John became jaded and wanted to be a simple laborer. Punch in, punch out, work with your hands, and take responsibility only for yourself.
The new company quickly saw just how hard my husband not only works, but how he can't help to streamline a process. Put away his dishes at home? Heck no, but save a company thousands of dollars by cataloguing inventory? You bet.
Again, the company made a new offer -- a lot more money, a position in management where "he could use his head, instead of his hands." The owners of the company said while he was a great mechanic, his mind was going to waste. They barked up the right narcissistic tree and once again, my husband sealed the new position with a hand shake.
Now instead of hearing absolutely zero about John's days, I'm hearing stories regarding the employees. How they hired fifty Mexicans (working on a visa) and forty new Jamaicans (working on a visa) or the last, a bunch of Samolians who were stranded in a city fifty miles away (have no idea concerning their visas). The owner of the company procured a bus and went to pick them all up off the street to give them an opportunity to work for him.
I couldn't help myself any longer. I knew what this was all about ... NOT hiring hardworking Americans for a decent wage when you could hire illegal hardworking immigrants for half or a third of the amount. I began my tirade, but was stopped with, "No, Beth, the foreigners start at the same wage as anyone would with all the same benefits."
"I don't believe it," I huffed, arms crossed, until I tentatively asked, "Well, why would the owners drive all around hell's half acre picking up immigrants if they're not saving money by doing it?"
"Because immigrants work harder and never miss a day."
"Work harder? Never miss a day?" I don't know why, but the news surprised me. If it makes me a bad person, so be it. I have this thing about American ingenuity, American work ethic.
"Beth, my 'born in America' employees call off all the time. They get a backache, they take the day off to nurse it. They don't sleep well the night before, they take the day off to catch up on it. I've got employees going to the doctor on a weekly basis so they can try to get an excuse to stay out longer. They're lazy and they call off all the time, even without notice because they feel entitled, not privileged. They're above hard work even if it is for a decent wage."
"But not the immigrants?"
"Oh shit, no. They're never late, never sick, and never lazy. They work their entire shift except for normal breaks and lunchtime."
"The Mexicans? The Africans? Even the Jamaicans??" (Let's face it, Jamaica is not known for a high work ethic.)
"Beth, the Jamaicans work circles around the American employees."
And this is where the plight comes into the story. The Jamaicans lost their visas and have to return to their country. Yesterday was their last day. Forty people gone and production will grind to a screeching halt.
I told my husband to go to the welfare office, the unemployment agency, and tell counselors there were forty good jobs opening up immediately. He shook his head, he laughed, and he said, "You don't get it. We lost forty GOOD employees. The owners don't want to replace them with lazy, I'll call off, not show up, feel entitled for my wages Americans. They want more immigrants because they realize the true value of hard work and a good wage. They're just more responsible. You really didn't know this?"
Not know it? That Americans are lazy? My father was the hardest working guy I knew as a kid. He was another one who never called off a day, never stayed home sick or because he couldn't sleep, never felt he was too good for a dirty job or hard labor. He used to say, "Let your wages wake you up in the morning." Missed time meant a smaller paycheck and my father wasn't about to have any of that, but in the age of salaried employees, reality "stars," and get rich quick BS, it's a dying attitude.
I'll admit, it saddens me. My mother worked full-time, cleaned the home, put a hot meal on the table every night, and took care of four children. She never said, "Oh, woe is me, I'm tired of this cooking and cleaning. I'm tired of staying up all night working. I do laundry for six people every day of my life!" No, she never complained and she never asked for help.
I don't even work full-time and I ask my children to do chores. Granted, only ten minutes of chores a day, but I still ask. I do all the housework except taking the dishes out of the dishwasher and doing the pans from dinner. My mother WAS the dishwasher and yet I feel compelled to have my children share in the work. I say it's to earn allowance, to know the value of a buck, but is this lazy American gene creeping up in my body as well? I don't know.
I make a new pledge to do my best and work my hardest as a mom, wife, and homemaker. It's my job and I want to do it well. I feel like I'm pretty good at it all, but I need to reaffirm the commitment.
I am so very proud to be married to a man who may not be a lot like my father in many ways, but in work ethic, they're a perfect match. It may not be important in this new America, but hard work built this nation. Hard work gives you a higher self-esteem and a feeling of earning money or praise instead of being entitled to it.
During the Great Depression, taking money from the government was shameful. You tried to find work any way you could. Now, people look for ways TO get the government to pay for them to survive. You go the doctor all you want to find new illnesses to stop you from going back to work. It isn't less shameful now than it was in the 30's, it's just more commonplace.
Maybe that's what happening to America. The great American work ethic has turned into the great American shirk ethic. Pass the buck, don't push a broom, whine over feelings, IM and make calls during work, call off, no show, and take no responsibility for any of it. How are we going to have a great nation with that? Even the greatest leaders in the world need strong, hard working citizens ... and now even our leaders are "out to lunch" when it comes to running the country. And as Forrest Gump once said, "That's all I have to say about that."
I have a new obsession and at 36, I'm a bit embarrassed about it. I'll just come right out and say it though ... errr, ummm, uhhh -- sock monkeys.
I've always loved sock monkeys and the ingenuity behind them -- turning a simple sock into a cherished toy for a child. Poverty breeds this type of fantastic idea and since I have known poverty well, I delight in it.
However, I haven't allowed myself to buy a sock monkey because, well, for one, it's a bit juvenille. These are things you buy for children or grandchildren, certainly not for yourself! For two, my husband always wanted our home to look a certain way. A way which doesn't allow for whimsy. A way that says "I am old and possibly expensive. Look, but don't touch." Hey, that describes our sex life as well, but that's another blog all together. (cue rim shot)
So, you could say my obsession means I only go online to look at sock monkeys, read about them, see the latest "sock monkey" products, and then off I go, without purchasing a sock monkey. Until yesterday.
Queen-size jersey soft sock monkey sheets. I told myself I would not do it, but then just kept going back to the auction every couple of hours. I told myself I did need a new pair of sheets, but sock monkey sheets? Certainly there were better and more economical choices (turns out sock monkey sheets in a queen size are rather rare, go figure!). Then I tell myself, 'The kids need to buy me something for Christmas. They both have no idea what to get me and ... if they chip in, yes, SOCK MONKEY SHEETS!" I chose BUY IT NOW, I paid, and the sheets are on their way.
Only I didn't stop there. I also thought, 'You don't even OWN an actual sock monkey.' Hmmm, I can solve that! So, I watched another auction for a vintage pair of sock monkeys, I waited until the last 20 seconds, bid, and won those as well. Aren't they cute?
My husband thinks I have lost my mind. Where is the frugal girl who doesn't spend money on herself unless it is a necessity? Where is the woman who was all grown up and waxing his precious antiques? The woman who reads the classics because she enjoys it?
He didn't even acknowledge me last night when I said, "I'm making a sock monkey valance for the bedroom and then putting a couple pictures up of sock monkeys on the walls. I'll sepia tone them so they look antique. Oh, and the lamp, I want a sock monkey shade, but I'll make it so it'll be cheap." No, he is not amused.
Am I having a mid-life crisis or finally usurping my personality into the bedroom? I mean, there has to be some monkeying around in there. (cue additional rim shot) I just don't know, but what I do know for sure is for some unknown reason, sock monkeys fill me with joy. I told my husband he got off cheap, most women I know want jewelry. I want a stuffed sock!