Monday, November 19, 2012

Of clothespins and Christmas cheer

I hang most of my laundered clothes outside on the clothesline these days.  I've seen a definite decrease in the amount of my electric bill, so even though it isn't my favorite task, I keep on doing it.  
On extremely windy days, I lose several clothespins and end up with some articles of clothing on the ground; this has sparked a few discussions between Cliff and me about how clothespins, like so many other things, were made better in the old days.  Cliff remembers having contests with his siblings to see which of them could stand having a clothespin clamped on a finger the longest.  Back then, a clothespin could pinch hard enough to hurt.  
This morning at the clothesline, I reached down into the basket and came up with an old clothespin.  I don't know why I still have one around, but there it was.  I took a picture of the old one beside a new one, just to show you how different they are: 
And that's why my clothes end up on the grass on a windy day.  

Now, on to Christmas cheer.  I admit to being somewhat of a Scrooge during the Christmas season.  We've never been loaded with extra funds.  As a newlywed, I stood back and looked at what was going on with my immediate side of the family, and here's what I saw:  Everybody had to get gifts for everybody else, nieces, nephews, brother, sister, mother and father.  I know there are very thoughtful people who can come up with economical gifts for anybody, but I'm not one.  When children are very small, they are easily satisfied; as they grow older, expectations are higher and it costs more to get them anything they really want.  For a few years Cliff and I bought gifts for all these people using a credit card, because we didn't have any extra money.  Finally we all agreed to just buy for our parents and the children in the family, which helped immensely.  Once my parents were gone and all the children were grown, gift-giving stopped on my side of the family.  
In Cliff's family, nobody bought gifts for anyone.  So we usually just bought something for his parents and let it go at that, which was really no problem as long as you got his mom "pretty towels or pretty dishes".  
I have a real problem with asking grandkids for a list of things they want, then choosing something off said list.  Where's the surprise in that?  
I have a problem giving them money, because I know from my own childhood that eventually you get to the point of expecting money.   
Cliff and I don't exchange gifts at Christmas.  No matter what time of year it is, if one of us says, "I sure would like to have (a tractor, a tool, a calf, some chickens), the other says, "Go get it!" 
These days we expect no gifts, nor do we give gifts.  I have told you people before that I'm peculiar.  Don't get me wrong, we have some charities we sometimes donate to, and we are always glad to help supply the local food pantry.  But we climbed off the gift-giving marathon years ago.  
Yesterday, out of the blue, someone I really don't know that well brought me a Christmas-y bag containing several delightful little gifts.  Nothing pricey, just some very thoughtful (and tasty) items.  I was totally blown away, because there was no reason for this person to give me anything.  She isn't obligated to me in any way.  For some reason, she just wanted to give me something. 
I was five years old again!  I remembered what Christmas felt like back when I still believed in Santa Claus, when Christmas was magical.  
So now, gentle readers, go give a gift to that person who least expects it.  You won't be sorry.  


I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

Glad you got a Christmas surprise! Sometimes those little things mean the most!

ingasmile said...

I hate feeling that there is an "obligation" to gifting for the holidays. I really enjoy giving people a gift! But when you have to or it is expected it takes all the fun out. I got everyone on both sides of our families to stop with the nonsense of the obligation gift at the holiday's. We were ending up with all sorts of things to "display" that we didn't really need or want. I guess I am a scrooge too!

I would rather take my sister or other family member to a concert or other outing sometime during the year, than give them a knick-knack they don't want.


Jean said...

My husband and I don't surprise each other with gifts either. Like you and your husband we always get what we want are need when we need it. That was a sweet surprise. I think it would be more fun to do what that person did to you. I will keep this in mind. Take care.

Paula said...

I'm raising my hand on the scrooge train too. Just be glad when its all over. I love the meaning of Christmas but not what it has become.

Margaret said...

Great post! I join you as a gift giving Scrooge. I would rather listen to music and bake cookies with the kids. We may not even put up a tree this year.

Jon said...

Laundry always smells fresher when it's dried outside. It brings back memories of my Mom and my grandmothers.
It's always so windy here in Texas that if I ever hung laundry outside, it would be in Oklahoma within a few minutes.

As for Christmas - BAH! HUMBUG!

Melissa Wiggins said...

Ah, what a sweet story. Surprise gifts are sometimes the best -- but on a personal level, I love Christmas morning, even at 66 -- I love seeing Will's and Wendy's faces when they open the things I carefully chosen for them through the year. I've been sending e-bay presents to Wendy's house in Houston all year long and she carefully stores them unopened for me. Gifts, of course, shouldn't be an obligation -- but a privilege. Glad you had such a happy surprise. MGW