Posts Tagged ‘presents’

Years ago – when I was old enough to know better, but still prone to stupid mistakes – my parents left me at home with a friend while they participated in a progressive dinner. They were hosting the main course, so they’d be back eventually, and my only instructions were not to touch the pot roast that was cooking upstairs.

No problem.

Cara and I were downstairs watching a movie when we got hungry and decided to make ramen. To this day, I’m not sure why I didn’t just pause the movie, go upstairs, and make the soup. But then again, hindsight is 20/20.

I decided to boil water in the downstairs microwave, which was situated so that I could still see the TV.

The next thing I knew there was a fire in the microwave.

You see, the “still prone to stupid mistakes” part of me didn’t think about the fact that I had used a metal pot – with a plastic handle – to boil the water.

It was the handle that caught on fire and was slowly burning up, blackening the formerly white microwave and stinking up the entire downstairs.

I grabbed the first thing I could find – a ladle – and tried to fill it up with water to toss on the flames. Cara, the calmer of the two of us, pointed out that the bowl (next to the ladle) would hold more water.

Good point.

We safely extinguished the fire and nervously waited for my parents to get home. Even if I could have hidden the microwave, there was no hiding the smell.

I remember wondering just how mad my parents would be, and what they’d say when they walked through the door.

First words from Mama:

Whatever happened, that better not be the pot roast.

I thought there’d be more, but they had company coming, so my microwave-shenanigans weren’t fully addressed that night.

Fast forward a few weeks to Christmas morning, opening our stockings.

My mom has always been an expert stocking stuffer. She manages to find the perfect mix of fun doodads and incredibly useful things that you didn’t know you needed until you open them. But always smaller, lighter things (and each individually wrapped, to make it more fun).

My stocking that year, however, was fully weighed down in the toe and as I made my way through the rest I was both excited and curious.

The last thing I pulled out – the heavy thing – was probably about seven inches tall and cylindrical. And I couldn’t even begin to guess as to what it was.

I certainly wasn’t expecting the huge can of heavy duty microwave cleaner. Though maybe I should have been.

I imagine that my mom must have been smirking as I pulled off the wrapping, but I don’t remember that for a fact.

I do know that, given the damage I did to the microwave, and the smell that permeated the house for at least a week, I was lucky that the cleaner wasn’t the only thing in my stocking that year.

And no, I haven’t boiled water in the microwave since.

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‘Twas the day before Christmas, and wouldn’t you know
I still had a little more shopping to go;
To the mall we sped not a moment to spare,
Prepared for the crowds that would surely be there;
The mall it was buzzing, the crowds they were dense,
Shopping on Christmas Eve doesn’t make much sense.
My mission was twofold on this shopping spree,
Part gift for my father, part present for me,
Now I know what you’re thinking, a present for you?
But let me explain; it’s the least I can do.
For a long time now I’ve wanted an iPhone,
My BlackBerry consistently made me groan.
The ‘rents finally agreed, “We’ll get this for you,
But this means no more family plan – you’re through.”
I pondered a bit the benefits and cost,
But the decision was plain and BlackBerry lost.
So at the mall we stopped at AT&T,
And I waited my turn quite impatiently;
You wouldn’t think a switch would be such a hassle,
But really, nothing about it was facile;
I had the info, the account in my name,
But AT&T told me, “You’re not who you claim.
I did not understand, it could not be true,
I answered the questions the best that I knew.
The in-person agent did all that he could,
Assuring headquarters my license was good;
He checked all my IDs and my credit cards, too,
Not sure if anything at this point would do.
And then, like magic, the phone agent gave in,
She told the in-person one, “Fine, you win.
Give this girl an iPhone, I guess she’s all right,
I’m really just tired of putting up a fight.
At least I imagine that that’s what she said,
Because that’s what would have been going through my head.
With this transaction finally completed,
I left the store to get what else I needed;
Of course, I just wanted to play with my new toy,
Angry Birds, Words With Friends, relax and enjoy;
There was still, however, work to be done,
Laundry and cleaning and wrapping – a ton.
Finally I was finished, free time was here!
I could explore the gadget I’d wanted for a year.
I downloaded apps and Bumped information,
And marveled at the speed with much elation;
So this is what a real smartphone does, I thought,
It accesses the web, it works when it ought!
I know the danger of becoming an addict,
It’s something the boyfriend certainly did predict;
But for right now it’s new, so I really don’t care,
I could stop any old time that I want – I swear!
Aside from that danger I really am thrilled,
Except for the prospect of getting billed;
And my parents could tell just how happy I am,
As they rarely saw the phone out of my hand.
But finally they said, with love in their tone,
Merry Christmas, Liebchen, now put down your phone!

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Finals count: 3 down, 1 to go.

The good: I turned in my two econ assignments yesterday and, barring a failing grade, I will never have to take another economics class. Ever again. That’s a Christmas present in and of itself.

The bad: I have yet to study for my International Affairs final that will take place in approximately 31 hours. I am, however, equating everything to globalization and balance of power, so maybe it’s sunk in more than I realized.

The heart attack: I turned in my history paper at the absolute last possible second last night, at 11:59pm. After it sent, I saw the clock turn over to midnight. Talk about sneaking in under the wire. (I guess technically this would be a “good,” but I thought I was going to vomit from the nerves.)

The saving grace: In 48 hours I will be on a plane, heading to Puerto Rico. I will not be stressing about school work; I won’t be able to compulsively check to see if my grades are posted; and, with any luck, I’ll come back with a tan in the middle of December.

That is, if I come back at all.

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I know that some of you have posted gift-giving guides and I’m grateful. I really am. But I need your expertise for one more thing.

You see, in our office, we do a Secret Santa gift exchange. We pulled names out of a hat a few weeks ago and are having the big to-do at our next staff meeting.

I felt like I had so much time, but now, that to-do is this Friday and I’ve yet to get my gift. Mostly because I have one of the senior fellows and shopping for a 50-something-year-old PhD who has lived all over the world is a little daunting. I also don’t work with him directly, so I’m kind of drawing a blank.

I don’t really like giving gift cards (even though I know they’re more practical), but that’s the direction I’m headed, unless someone here comes up with something truly inspiring.

So, please, help me out and think like an academic: what would you ask Santa for?

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One of the best presents this Christmas didn’t come under the tree or in my stocking. In fact, it didn’t even come on Christmas day.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved my “kitchen Christmas,” as my mother called it. I needed that new soup pot, chopping knife, and wine rack (which I put together MYSELF – thank you, thank you).

Now all I need is more wine...

Now all I need is more wine...

But, no. The Christmas miracle is this: the Philadelphia Eagles managed to snag the last Wild Card spot in the NFC! Yes, the same Eagles who tied the Bengals, who blew close leads against both the Redskins and the Cowboys, and whose star quarterback was benched after the first half of the game against the Ravens. I, along with many Philly fans, kept repeating the mantra: We still have the Phillies. We still have the World Series. It’ll be okay. The sentiments were less than adequate, however, after the poor showing against the Redskins last week, and I wasn’t feeling very hopeful as I headed off to the bar yesterday to watch my Eagles play the Cowboys. For what I thought would be their last game of the season.

I’ve never been happier to be proven wrong.

44-6. 44-6? Eagles, where did that come from? And can you keep it up against the Vikings next week? You’ve shocked us all, and gotten our hopes up. Please don’t disappoint.

That said, even if they don’t get any further than this wild card spot, there’s always next year.

And besides, a win massacre win (I’ll be nice) against the Cowboys is a pretty fantastic way to end the regular season.

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I’m now back in Philly for the holidays with my family, and getting ready to do the one thing I truly dread about Christmas: Last Minute Gift Shopping. Sure, blame me ’cause I didn’t get my presents earlier, but I’m a busy girl. I had parties procrastinating watching bad TV work to do.

So now I have to venture out into the hoards of people whose intelligence drops several levels when they find themselves confronted with sales, coupons, and the holidays. These people come to a dead stop in the middle of the mall, they block displays, they don’t understand that there’s an ENTIRE line behind them when they get to the register and start asking a million questions! I’m sorry, where was I?

Oh, yes. An utter lack of intelligence in the malls – at this time of the year, more so than usual. I’m silently cursing my poor planning, mapping out my route, and hoping no one gets in my way. For their own safety, of course.exitstrategy

Wish me luck. I might need it to keep my sanity.

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I was at a holiday party the other night where the hosts asked everyone to bring a present for Toys for Tots. hess-2000-firetruckContributions ranged from stuffed animals to remote-control cars to interactive books, and so on and so forth. And then, one girl walked in with the Coolest Fire Truck Ever. There were sirens going off and lights flashing and, I swear, it was about two feet long. It completely trumped the little Hess Fire Truck I had as a kid.

But, while some toys are significantly cooler and more entertaining now, there are others that I wouldn’t change a thing about, and would still ask Santa for.

1. Easy-Bake Oven

I never had one when I was younger – and I’m not entirely sure why. Surely, instilling a love a baking is a positive thing. And, I imagine, it’s much harder to set something on fire when cooking with a light bulb.

2. Trampoline

My brother and I lobbied for a trampoline nearly every year growing up. When Santa failed to oblige us, we turned to our parents. Apparently, they were all in cahoots because we were never successful in our pleas. Luckily, several friends had trampolines on which I learned to do flips, toe-touches, and play “crack the egg.”

3. Dream Phone

Okay, fine. I actually understand why I was never allowed to have this one. The whole point was to figure out who your Secret Admirer was. “To guess who your admirer is, make a special call to that boy. If you hear him say, “You’re right! I really like you!,” you win the game!” If I had to guess, I’d say my parents didn’t want to promote any “boy crazy” behavior. My friend Dina’s parents had no such problem (Dina also had an older sister, that might’ve helped), and we played every time I slept over.

4. Power Wheels Jeep

Forget the pink Barbie jeep with little flowers everywhere. I wanted what I deemed a real jeep (and mostly, that meant blue and no flowers). I was under the impression that having my own wheels would give me a little bit of freedom, so it was a rude awakening when we finally got a similar vehicle, but I couldn’t take it out without parental supervision! What? You don’t trust me? How rude! (Think: Stephanie Tanner)

5. Pretty Pretty Princessdear_santa

Ah, yes. Last, but certainly not least. This was one of my favorites. Again, not one that I owned, but one that several of my friends did. I remember it like it was yesterday (I swear it wasn’t – I haven’t played in, oh, at least a year), going around the board, collecting my pieces of jewelry – I wanted that crown so badly. The princess dream was so deeply ingrained that when I was eight years old, I drew a picture of myself labeled “Princess Liebchen” with Rapunzel-esque hair, in response to a  “Show yourself in 20 years” direction. I have five years left to fulfill the princess dream, if I want to stay on my childhood schedule. Damn procrastination.

My “Dear Santa” lists aren’t nearly as fun anymore, but sometimes I still cross my fingers that I’ll finally get the trampoline.

(Santa? Are you reading? At least I’m not asking for a pony…)

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