The Ol’ Gift Cards Debate

We’re getting down to the nitty-gritty last few days before Christmas, aren’t we? The ones where we frantically turn to the premade cookies,  scrawl our names faster on Christmas cards, and glance at our shopping lists only to turn to the gift-card rack at the convenience store.

I know two people who absolutely refuse to give gift cards for Christmas. Refuse. Absolutely. (“It’s so impersonal,” says one. “It puts a price on the relationship” says the other.)

I myself don’t feel so polarized on the issue, and yet I’ll argue with these friends, always playing the other side. (Sometimes I just like a good dinner conversation.)

But I’m okay with giving gift cards. Even at the last second, in the last few days before Christmas — they were usually on my gift list to begin with. And I don’t find them impersonal at all. I find them quite practical, actually, and sometimes downright perfect. The gauge I typically use is How much does this person like to shop? Continue reading

The Story of How I Met Superman, Part 12: Different Cultures

 This is Part 12 of the story of How I Met Superman. To get caught up, you can find the preceding chapters here.


Over the next couple of weeks, I constantly looked for Superman at school. He never approached me during the school day. Instead, I’d see him leaning against the handrails at the band room, where he and his fellow drummers – Wade*, Tommy*, Orly*, and a handful of other boys – would laugh with each other and watch the girls go by.

But after school, he would find me, and take my books, and my heart would still, and he’d say, “Are you walking home?”

We learned more and more about each other during those walks. I was fascinated by his family: His mother came from Mexico, his father from Spanish-speaking southern Texas. They made enchiladas and menudo and tortillas from scratch on a regular basis. He told me his father had been in the military and then worked in the defense industry, and they moved around a lot when he was a kid. Subsequently, he felt very close to his older two brothers, who stood in as best friends in all those brand-new schools. I liked how close he was with his family. I liked how close he felt to his friends. He seemed to always be giving people things – money for lunch, a forgotten book to borrow, time after school – and I instantly loved that generosity about him.

But one of the afternoons, before walking home, he didn’t come find me. Continue reading

3 for Thursday: Your 3 Favorite Christmas Songs!

Okay, I can’t wait to hear everyone’s favorite Christmas songs — and bonus points if you can name your favorite rendition (i.e., Ray Charles’ “White Christmas” or Bing Crosby’s?). Also, I’d love to hear where you hear them — Do you listen to them all month in your car? Do you load them onto an iPod? Or do you play “Sounds of the Season” on cable?

A Very Holiday-ish Weekend

Roger's Gardens, Corona del Mar

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. …

And feel like Christmas, too.

(Well, except for the 87 degree weather.)

But we had a very holiday-ish weekend — kicked off by an elegant office party Friday night  in Newport Beach, followed by Christmas shopping, present-wrapping, our first Christmas cards, watching “It’s a Wonderful Life,” family brunch with good friends, popcorn eating, more present-wrapping, and a visit to Roger’s Gardens in Corona del Mar, which has the most fabulous holiday decorations ever.

Roger’s Gardens is a garden shop, originating here in Orange County in the 1970s, but it’s more than just a nursery — it’s a virtual kaleidoscope of color and beauty — everything done with the epitome of taste and elegance. And now it’s become quite a tourist attraction. It houses the original bandstand from Disneyland circa 1955 (Santa poses there for pictures at Christmas; the Easter Bunny arrives in the spring), and has a long-running tiny miniature train that the kids love to look at. It’s also known for its Christopher Radko room, where the designer shows up from time to time to sign his signature ornaments. Continue reading

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