Baking · Christmas · Christmas Gift Ideas · Christmas Gift Ideas for Her · Christmas Marketing · Christmas Toronto · Cooking · Family · Holidays · Meaning of Christmas · Middle Age · Midlife · Relationships · Uncategorized

Christmas is: Connection

Christmas VacationSugar Cookies, homemade quilts and everyone snuggled in by the fireplace, including a sleepy cat or two.

(skip to the bottom for recipe)

This is how Christmas should be. And it is. At my house.

My love of all things Christmas did not come from being raised with a sister who was five years older than me, and willing to carefully  unwrap every single gift under the tree. Before Christmas morning. While our parents were at those 1980’s parties that required big hair and a LOT of booze.  I had to fake surprise long before I should have had to. Gifts skirted the tree often in a wide, three or four foot swath of colourful wrapping paper, and my mother made sure that every gift purchased was “expensive-looking-enough’.  I learned early that gifts weren’t the reason for the season. Gifts caused a lot of grief.

What made me fall in love with Christmas was the food and the company. Oh. My. Goodness. The food. I grew up in a teeny-tiny village. We had a grocery store that stocked tangerines, nuts and pre-bagged bulk candy only during the Christmas season, and it was fucking magical.  The smell of a tangerine still makes me wax nostalgic. My aunts would bring platters of sweets and savouries that we ONLY got during the Christmas season. They also brought my cousins. Growing up in a village of 500, your cousins were your playmates and best friends. Food and cousins. Christmas rocked.

Today, my kiddo is grown, and I miss the Christmas wonderful-wonder that children radiate throughout the holidays. I find myself surrounded by adults who bitch about the burden of Christmas, primarily the financial burden. I get it. I feel the pressure too, or rather, I observe it.

I’ve never really been about the show. It doesn’t turn me on. I do love giving gifts that I know people will use and love, but the best gifts were alway the ones that were handmade. Or the visits with friends and family that alway seemed to get put off until the holidays. Christmas is about connection.

When I sit down at my sewing machine, or spend the day in the kitchen preparing for Christmas, I feel connected to the best parts of my family.

CherryGems-bake2Despite a very painful estranged relationship with my late mother, in the kitchen I remember the good parts. I make the same too-much-sage stuffing recipe with white bread, the same gravy, and tacky ambrosia salad. I try to make things that make my kiddo, and my sweety’s kiddo’s feel special.

I tend to bake the same old-fashioned squares that my Grandmother produced, and think of her when I pull out my sewing machine and blow the dust off that settled in from the Christmas before.

Christmas is all about connection for me. When I give a homemade piece of needlework, a quilt or homemade sweet treats, I’m not only giving you the gift, but I’m giving you my time. You were on my mind when I sewed, baked, iced, stitched or preserved it.

Every minute spent into the wee hours getting things ready for the people I admire and love is time spent in connection with my values. This is what Christmas is about. Connection.

If you are reading this and you are my friend, know that I only crave time with you. Latte at a crowded cafe? Yes please! Yoga pants and cheap plonk in your living room while the kids go wild? Yes please! Dual sewing machines going in my Christmas Craft space in the basement? Absolutely!

Connect. That’s what the season is about.

GREAT GRANNY’S CHRISTMAS COCONUT CHERRY BALLS

1/3 cup margarine

1 1/2  cups icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups coconut

1 tbsp milk

maraschino cherries

graham wafer crumbs

Mix margarine, icing sugar, vanilla coconut and milk together. Chill until mixture is firm enough to roll into 2″ balls. Roll balls in wager crumbs. Make an indent in each ball with your thumb, and top each ball with 1/2 cherry.   Seal in airtight container and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Advertising · Advice for Men · Andshelaughs · Christmas · Christmas Marketing · dating · Dating Advice · Dating Advice for Men · Dating Advice for Women · Dating Advive · Dating Love · Dating Over 40 · Gift Ideas · Gifting · Girl Stuff · GQ · Guy Stuff · Guy Stuff Women's · Guy Stuuf · Having Fun · He Said She Said · Health · Holidays · ideas · Inspiration · Life Lessons · Living · Love Letters · Lovers · loving · Magic · Matters of the Heart · Mature Dating · Meaning of Life · Men's Health · Men's Issues · Men's Sexuality · Mens' Issues · Pets · Relationships · Uncategorized

The Perfect Gift for Her

You can never find the perfect gift when you’re looking for it. Never.

That’s why I hate Christmas shopping so very much. I hate feeling like I have to buy something for someone.  I prefer to see something that makes me think of that someone special and snatch it up.

Alas, no one is perfect, not even me, and we’re smack dab in the middle of the busiest shopping season of the year. Yikers.

I’ve personally never been told that I’m hard to buy for, but I’ve heard the cry from my friends, their spouses, and the singles among us who are inspired to use the romantic leverage of this time of year to spring something wonderful on their true-love.

I don’t pretend to know the love of your life, but I can tell you this; women, unless you know them extremely well (and if you did, you likely wouldn’t need to read this) all enjoy similar things.

Never forget that just spending time with you is what makes  her truly happy.

If you feel bound to buy a gift, unless it’s gawd-awful or an engagement ring, with jewellery, you really can’t go wrong. White gold, yellow gold, whatever gold. Diamonds? Meh. That may not be the message you wish to send. How about sapphires, rubies or emeralds? And remember, the strength of the stone represents the strength of you love for her. If you’re not thinking of taking the relationship to the next level, do not buy jewellery.

unstoppable

 

 

Perfume. Know what she wears, or what she likes to wear, and splurge on her favourite scent. Most perfumeries offer sets at this time of year, and we love them. What could be better than travelling with a miniature vanity stocked with your favourite frangrance?

elie saab

 

 

If you’re just not really that serious, but you feel like you should buy her something, try alcohol. Chances are she knows you’re also not the one, and could use a little liquid therapy. Buy her something bubbly and delightful.

les etoiles

 

 

If she loves her spa time, give her a generous gift-certificate to her favourite escape. Always, always, always accompany this with something soft and snuggly like a teddy bear or a stuffed reindeer. Silly can be cute. A stark envelope cannot.

blitz.jpg

 

A weekend away. If you can both manage this one during the holiday season, I tip my hat to you. Giving of your time is often the most coveted and most difficult gift to give.  Make it romantic. Bring champers, roses, candles, and a be well rested so you can….well, you know…

room

 

Of course a beautiful bouquet at any time will let her know that you’re thinking of her…

peony

 

These are all terrific Christmas ideas, but what every woman really wants is just to spend time with her sweetie.

Stay tuned for Being Jolly on a Budget….’cause that’s how you’ll win and keep her heart.

HO-HO-HO!!!

Andshelaughs · Christmas · Creative Writing · Creativity · Economics · Entertaining · Entertainment · Food · Girl Stuff · Health · Humor · Humour · Inspiration · Lean In · Life · Living · Meaning of Life · Men's Issues · Motivation · Opinion · Perspective · Philosophy · Relationships · Sexuality · Singles · Travel · Uncategorized · Women's Issues · Working Women · Writing

A Box of Chocolates for Christmas

chocolatsOne of my gal-pals told me that whenever someone gifted her a box of chocolates she felt insulted. Insulted that the gift-giver gave her a generic gift.

Hmm? I could see her point, but I also had my own feeling about the matter as well – surprise, surprise.

When was the last time you bought yourself a box of chocolates? Not a chocolate bar, or a chocolate snack of some sort, or a decadent dessert while you were out for a girls’ lunch. Just a box of chocolates?

I’m known as  being an ‘-aholic’ of all sorts; chocoholic, manoholic, wine0holic, you get the picture.  But despite loving chocolate, I can’t remember the last time I went out and bought myself a really nice box of chocolates.

I’ve discovered that as we get older, the things we really need are generally not things, or, if they are things, they are necessities or large-ticket items that we have to choose for ourselves.

This does not apply to romantic gift giving either. This must be pointed out for the man-dumb among us. In this case gents, send jewelry and plan and evening of very hot romance which ends naked under the glowing lights of the Christmas tree. Oh, also, because the Andshelaughs ladies are real, please  have breakfast planned.

So, if someone give you a box of chocolates this Christmas, don’t be a raging twatcycle. Remember that they didn’t have to give you damn thing, but they made the effort to give you a special treat, and really, what more could we ask for?

 

Christmas · Entertaining · Girl Stuff · Health · Humor · Humour · Life · Men's Issues · Relationships · Singles · Uncategorized

Secret Santa For Your Sweetheart

English: Danboard holding a Christmas gift.
English: Danboard holding a Christmas gift. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My shopping is finished before mid-November. My wrapping is complete within a week of putting up my tree (also in November), and my schedule is chock-a-block with Christmas get-togethers by the time the calendar is turned to the month of December.

And then I think of just one more gift. Just one more person who could use a little treat.

That one more person is often the current apple of my very hard to catch beautiful blue eye.

First there is the question of whether to buy a gift at all.

Should I? Shouldn’t I? What if they get all awkward and all, “I forgot your gift at home,” or, well, just weird.

But what if they don’t? What if they genuinely love the idea that you thought enough of them to offer them something at Christmas time?

What if, whether or not they turn out to be the love of your life or not, you end up brightening up someone’s life during the season of mystery, light and goodwill. Either way, going out on the gift-giving limb is win-win, situation.

Are you afraid of rejection or having your pride hurt? Sissy. If, at this stage we don’t go after what we want, we’ll be lonely old pitiful souls.

So, I have decided that this year, I will be buying the man who puts a twinkle in my eye and a little skip in  my middle-aged step a small gift to let him  know that he is in my heart.

For the ladies and gentleman out there who aren’t ready to hop into the sack, profess their undying love, nor are ready to give up getting to know someone special, I offer you a list of things you may wish to offer as a small token of your affection;

1) A beautiful pair of gloves or mittens with a little note..think something like, ” Wishing you a warm and cozy holiday,” for the more bold, you may like to try, “These are to keep your strong, capable hands warm so that you can warm me up later tonight.”

2) Cologne/Perfume; a small bottle. Perhaps offer to dab a little bit behind their ear and then take a slow breath next to their skin to inhale the scent. For the more bold lovers out there, buy yourself a wonderful new scent, dab a bit on your décolletage, direct their schnoz to your perfumed fleshy heaven and ask them if they like it.

3) Homemade baking. We’ve all heard that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but women also appreciate a man who knows how to stir up something sweet.

4) An ornament. Be prepared to explain why it’s special and why you chose it for your sweetheart.

5) Music. Let them know which song reminds you of them and why.

6) Take them out for a walk or a movie or a quaint cup of coffee. Time, after all is a wonderful gift, and one that everyone appreciates.

7) A wine, scotch, bourbon or beer tasting. Go out and have some fun. Let them know that you know what they like, and you want them to  enjoy themselves.

8) A cozy blanket. Again, I suggest a note for the meek, ” Wishing you a warm and cozy Christmas.” For the less meek, “Hoping we can get into some trouble under the covers.”

9) An advent calendar with notes tucked inside. For the meek, include something pithy, generic and inspirational from tumbler, etc. For the less meek, leave a daily hint as to where to find you under the mistletoe on a certain date, at an exact time – clothing optional.

10) Give them a calendar for the new year with notes and dates you’ll spend together, written throughout the months of the year.

Whatever you decide to do, just DO something.