Brown Paper Packages


Tied up with string.

These are a few of my favorite things.

“Upcycled” is how I like to think about it when I wrap my Christmas packages in brown paper deconstructed from SafeWay grocery bags and brown paper sacks from CVS Pharmacy.

I cut the bag up, pull the handles off, flip it inside out and wrap whatever present I have at hand that needs a spiffy new look to it.

I put a name tag or holiday tag on the package.

Then the piece de resistance, green jute string.

I also occasionally use fabric and ribbon remnants.

I have a little Christmas box and it was unearthed today.

I got my Christmas tree.

It’s definitely a Charlie Brown type of fella, but he’s got some style and panache and some adorable blue lights adorning him.

Before

Before

After

After

A Few of My Favorite Things

Tied up with String

Blue Christmas

Blue Christmas

And despite the fact that my Christmas tree has blue lights, it’s not a blue holiday for me this year.

I have someone to share it with and that’s first in some years.

I quite enjoyed wrapping up his presents while he lay napping on my bed this afternoon–poor bunny’s been sick.

He did rally like a trooper and helped me go to the Sloat Garden Center and get my tree.

I warned him that I was about to dork out.

I closely inspected all the trees, the pickings were far slimmer than I recalled from last year.  Then I realized that last year I had gotten my Christmas tree far earlier than this year.

That whole weekend trip to Alaska threw my schedule off.

And despite the decorations and the lights and the Christmas carol’s being sung, the stockings all hung by the chimney with care, it hasn’t felt like Christmas until about today.

I feel settled and at ease with what is happening with my father.

I got through my birthday, which, yes, though a day of celebration was such a surreal experience as it was the day I got the news about my father, plus it’s just a loaded day.

“Don’t have any expectations about anything,” I told myself.

Which is the best suggestion I can give myself at any time.

Expectations lead to resentments for me and the last thing I need on top of my already merry-go-round mind is some resentments about the expectations I have around the holidays.

And with a few years of having done this deal and been an orphan as such, although not really an orphan, I have done a few things for myself that speaks to good self-care and holiday joviality.

Last year I worked at half day on Christmas eve, then I rode the F-Market train down from the heart of the Castro to the Embarcadero and caught the last ferry from the terminal to Sausalito and then hopped off, walked a few yards, snapped some photographs, and hopped back on the ferry to San Francisco.

The year before I was in Paris and that was both monumentally mundane, as I helped a visiting friend locate a store open in Paris on Christmas Eve that could fax some paper work to her job, and unbearably magical–walking into Sacre Couer for midnight mass and the entire church is signing the first Noel in Latin.

Yeah, that’s not really a bad way to spend Christmas Eve.

The year prior I took myself out to the San Francisco Ballet and saw the Nutcracker for the first time.

I got all dressed up and took a cab.

I was unbearably homeless and lonely.

I was house sitting for a friend.

One of the sweetest gifts I got that year was a tiny black framed print in aquamarine that says: “Happy is a home that shelters a friend.”

I was pretty much a wreck that year, but tried to muster through it.

Of course in hindsight I can look back and see that I was being stripped down of all the things that I needed to let go of so that when the opportunity arose to go to Paris I was pretty much able to up and go.

The year prior to that I was living in Nob Hill.

And that was the first year that I allowed myself a Christmas tree.

I had a small studio and it overlooked the cable car line on Washington Street at Taylor.

The cable car guys would rumble by and certain operators would wave or flirt, or ask me what I was eating, my window really was just at eye level with the cable cars.

That year I was struck dumb with love and light and joy when I turned off the lights in my little studio and the Christmas lights on my tree twinkled and winked at me and the bulbs lit up the ornaments which cast Christmas colored shadows on the walls and ceilings.

Then.

Oh then.

A full cable car rattled by and all the passengers on the car were signing Christmas carols.

I felt my heart swell and the magic of Christmas kissed my forehead as I settled down for a long winter’s nap.

I can and do get a tiny bit sentimental and I think that’s ok.

There’s love and joy all year round in my life, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t want to celebrate and decorate and do up my own tiny little scene.

I have some Christmas goodies in the fridge to make a Christmas Eve dinner: warm spinach salad with bacon and Roquefort Blue Cheese, cherry tomatoes, and chopped apples; mini-rouladen–thin sliced black forest ham, slathered with a cream cheese and rolled around a dill pickle spear; asparagus with prosciutto, (I am now seeing a proliferation of pork products in my dinner I was not aware of until just now, ha), roasted Japanese sweet potato, and filet with some of that Blue Cheese reduced down and mixed with softened butter and fresh pressed garlic sautéed with baby Portobello mushrooms.

Yeah.

I like to cook.

Then  Christmas night dinner–caesar salad with grilled chicken and bacon, berries–strawberries and blackberries– and mixed cheeses, which I am going to do a little swing through ye olde BiRite tomorrow while on the way to the park with the boys, I’ll probably get my man a small Acme batard or sweet roll, a relish plate with marinated baby artichoke hearts, black olives, cornichons, deviled eggs with organic paprika, and yes, Virginia (ham is not on this menu), a duck.

I have not ever made duck before, but I am going to give it a go.

As I said, I like to cook, if you haven’t noticed from previous blogs and I am quietly thrilled to be able to make a few things for the man.

And have a tree.

And someone to hold my hand and snuggle with while I watch the lights twinkle in the dark.

Happiness.

Happy home for the holidays.

Happy indeed.

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