Belated Christmas Gifts

I’m told that the problem with buying presents for me these days is that I’m an adult, and if I see something I want, I buy it. None of this waiting half a year in the hopes that Saint Nick will bring me something anymore. It was easier for my parents and my sister when I had no money, and it looked like I might never have any money, because then they could just give me money and be done with it.

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But since I’m adult, look at this plant I just bought! I forget what it’s called, possibly something like Hypothermia, but I felt a personal connection to it because it smelled funny and had a weird name.

These days, before I come home for Christmas, my parents ask me to put together a list of things I would enjoy owning that I don’t already, and then they pick just a few things out of the list so that it’s a mystery what I’ll get. This has worked well so far.

Of course, after I finish opening all my presents in Idaho, there’s the problem of how I’m going to fit them all into the four cubic inches of space my airline has allotted for carry-on luggage. Most of the things go into a box, and in the grand tradition of all Ludvigs we never send the box and forget that much of the stuff in it ever existed.

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This time I received the box, but I just didn’t open it for a week or two because I was “too busy.”

I had already forgotten what I had received for Christmas, so this was like unwrapping presents all over again. The rest of this post is all just me showing off my presents, so you can go do something else now. (I thank my good friend Wendy for the very pretty shawl I laid everything out on.)

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A while ago, unbeknownst to my family, I had purchased a book-shaped wallet for myself. Coincidentally, I received a book-shaped purse and a book-shaped backpack for Christmas, so now I can put my book-shaped wallet in a book-shaped purse in a book-shaped backpack, and still have enough room leftover for an actual book!

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I got the games “Coup” and “Happy Salmon.” Coup is a nice little social deduction card game that’s easy to learn and quick to play, good for my board game nights. Happy Salmon, on the other hand, is the easiest way to turn functioning adults into flailing, shouting, desperate maniacs. I highly recommend it.

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Did you ever want to read lengthy full-color comic books about small shirtless quasi-anime elfs that ride wolves and can talk to each other in their minds? Well, now you can! ElfQuest! Slogan: “Made in the ’70s and it shows!” (I love these things so much.)

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My parents are still very concerned that I’m going to be mugged or murdered by thugs out here in the big city, so they like to give me emergency items like heavy-duty flashlights and defense spray so I can use them on my opponent and then be mugged and murdered by even angrier thugs. Also, some earrings! Thanks, Mom and Dad!

And then, last but not least, I got this beautiful thing:

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I’m told it’s a sundial. A portable one, to be exact. If I were an especially competent hipster I could carry this around in my purse and pull it out whenever I wanted to know the time whilst outdoors on sunny days. Sadly, I have not yet figured out how to properly set the thing up, so I can only tell the time by looking at my phone. But it looks really classy.

This stuff really is spectacular. I have to hand it to my parents, they know what I like.

Because I tell them. In a list they request.

God bless us all, every one.

The After-Christmas

Christmas is done and gone, the children are back in school, businesses are opening back up, and my friends are planning fun things forty minutes from me, which is why it’s now snowing so heavily that I can’t locate the driveway or two of the children.

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These paper snowflakes feel kind of redundant now.

Now that I’m an adult, I’m conflicted about snow. I’m starting to realize that if you want the kids to go to school or want to be able to drive to Target, the roads need to be clear or you will inevitably end up upside-down in a ditch somewhere with children burying you in snow.

(Children never stop trying to bury you in snow after a certain age. It’s instinct.)

Fortunately, it’s snowing on a Saturday, which should give the schools ample time to shovel everything up in preparation for Monday. Unfortunately, it’s snowing so heavily at present that the roads aren’t really roads at all, but more like incidental logging trails covered in petroleum jelly. I foolishly tried to drive south to play some board games with friends today, and I drove for 40 minutes at 25 miles an hour on the highway. If you’re doing the math, that means it took me exactly an hour to realize I would be better off back at home with a cup of tea.

So now I’m back at home with a cup of tea, listening to the sounds of chaos outside my room, and I’m organizing the Christmas presents from my employers.

Yes, there are enough that they have to be organized.

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Bottom left: Box of chocolates that are missing most of the coconut variety already.

My employers are very kind and generous people, and Mrs. Parent in particular loves giving gifts that are thoughtfully tailored to the recipient. I’m not sure they quite understand the all-consuming passion I have for magic, fairy tales, etc., but they really do their best. The purse she was particularly proud of, because she knows I like deep browns and across the chest straps.

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My favorite, of course, is the tea.

The peculiar tea set they gave me was composed of one single teabag per type of tea, which is artistic if not very practical, and each tea bag has a little leaf on the end of it for decorative purposes. The covered teacup has a little hole in the top which lets the teabag string through, allowing one to steep their tea without it going cold.

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Much like in fancy restaurants, you know the food is too classy for you when there’s so little of it.

Naturally the teacup can be re-purposed to fit regular teabags with enough folding and stuffing.

So now I’m stuck inside the house, but I have my own little oasis, lit by Christmas candles and smelling like chocolates and tea. It’s almost enough to forget that there are three to six boys outside my room, gleefully smacking each other with their new stuffed Pikachus.

I also gave them extreme dot-to-dot books so that they have something that requires sitting quietly for hours at a time. It doesn’t sound like they’re using them.

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Don’t tell anyone I’m still playing holiday music. This could be the fourteenth day of Christmas.

Christmas in Idaho

I returned to the east coast at the hideous hour of two o’clock in the morning yesterday, which was appropriate because I left for Idaho at the hideous hour of two in the morning on Christmas Eve. I arrived at the airport over three hours early, because the last time I flew out on Christmas Eve there was an ungodly line through security of hundreds upon hundreds of people, and from which I had to be rescued ten minutes before my flight was scheduled to leave.

Naturally, when I arrived at the airport this time it was dead and I had just over three hours to kill, long before any of the shops had opened. I played a lot of Fallout.

I prepped myself for the most comfortable plane ride I could manage, because it’s a little over six hours to fly to Seattle. Of course, Seattle isn’t in Idaho, but it’s not like we have major airports in Idaho. We don’t even have Wawa in Idaho. We’ve barely even mastered highways in Idaho.

So every time I head home I fly first to Seattle, and then backtrack a couple hundred miles to Spokane (Washington), and then drive an hour or so to actually get into Idaho, and home.

When I left New Jersey, it was 45 degrees and muddy, so seeing the first hints of snow was exciting.

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This. This is what I was really going home for. Not to see family or anything. It was always snow.

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Ahhh…

And Idaho delivered. Going home to Idaho was going home to a good foot of snow, lightly whipped up into drifts. It made the roads terrible, of course, but it made everything look just delightfully pretty.

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For most of my stay, it looked like I was running my photos through a black and white filter.

Christmas Eve evening has always been the time that the Ludvig family opens presents (presents from Santa arrive Christmas morning). Because my parents chose to live as far away from phones, lights, motorcars, and other luxuries, our extended family likes to stay in California where it’s warm and they’re unlikely to be eaten by mountain men, so Christmas is usually the parents, my sister, myself, and the neighbor couple without children.

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Not pictured here: The dog, the maniacal parrot velociraptor, chickens, cows, horse.

And it’s peaceful. Oh, so peaceful. It struck me again and again how quiet it all was. The people, who weren’t yelling at each other. The outdoors, which were silent and still and not interrupted by headlights and engines. The loudest thing in that house was the wind whistling so hard through my closed bedroom window that the curtains moved, but I digress.

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My father ran out of regular wrapping paper. On left: Hint of dog’s tail.

I got a lot of neat things for Christmas, and I have pictures of none of them because they’re all on the way back to the east coast in a box, since they wouldn’t fit in my carry-on. Among other things, I received a book-shaped purse and a book-shaped backpack to go with my book-shaped wallet (I have a problem), a couple of actual books, and a really neat sundial for when I want to tell the time after the world ends.

I gave my father a nice copy of all three Lord of the Rings books, and my mother a cast iron skillet. I frequently give my mother things like spatulas and vacuum cleaner parts. She’s a very practical woman.

(My sister, being a college student working at a place where they try to sell wooden heart models, got money.)

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No, really.

And it was all very merry.