Gift-giving doesn’t work well at my house. We are especially unimaginative when it comes to giving books My husband has not yet read Kevin Powers’ The Yellow Birds from last Christmas; I have not yet read Abraham Verghese’s Cutting for Stone from three Christmases ago.
In December I am so depressed from lack of light that finding Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch under the tree might send me over the edge. And don’t pretend you’re not giving it to everyone: it’s the # 2 NYT best-seller and on many critics’ “Best of” lists.
It’s one more book to add to the Cutting for Stone pile. We’re giving these to the Planned Parenthood Book Sale.
Though the family isn’t exchanging gifts this year, I still write the Christmas letter. Here are a few choice passages from the Christmas letters of 2010, 2011, and 2012 to amuse you. (Nothing from this year: you know all about this year from my blog.)
Anyway, here’s Christmas history!
This year we’re having a SIMPLE CHRISTMAS. I feel like someone on Oprah. I spilled half a cup of tea on the computer and it’s a sob story.
You’re not supposed to drink near your computer, but I’ve been drinking tea while I type for years. The screen went sort of nuclear reactor–weird gray shapes– and the keyboard absorbed the tea. I didn’t even have a chance to fetch a rag to wipe it up. Tea–gone! Computer–gone!
A trip to the genius bar at the Apple store. I had a choice of (A) paying $700 to Apple to teach the computer to “communicate with its keyboard and battery,” or (B) buying and bonding with a new computer for $900. After drying the distressed, memory-impaired beloved laptop in front of a fan for a couple of days (suggestion of the Genius Bar), it regained sufficient intelligence to use the internet. Gently. But I would have had to send it to Apple for a couple of months to repair other functions and who knows if they could really fix it? So we bought a new laptop. Prices are lower than they used to be.
Spilling tea on a computer before Christmas means we can’t spend much on gifts. …You know it’s actually nice not to worry about shopping. I don’t recommend spilling tea on the computer–do you have a computer?–but the season isn’t as depressing and I think it’s the shopping thing.
My reading is whatever I feel like at the moment. This year I’ve been reading books by Nick Hornby. Do you know his work? Several of his novels have been made into movies: About a Boy, High Fidelity… But my favorite is A Long Way Down, about four suicidal characters who meet on the roof of a tall building in London on New Year’s Eve, and then don’t commit suicide, because they form an impromptu support group. It is very funny, though it has a serious, sad side. I also love Hornby’s book columns. He writes a book column for The Believer, and they have been published as collections. The latest is More Baths Less Talking. Probably my favorite is The Polysyllabic Spree.
We also have e-readers now! I’ve been reading e-book “reprints” of English books published by Bloomsbury. They include books by Monica Dickens, Angela Huth, and E. M. Delafield, and only cost $8 or so. I can’t believe i”m in the e-reader generation. I do prefer real books but…
We’re going for low, low materialism this year for Xmas. I went overboard last year, and it ruined Christmas. Too much stuff neither of us wanted!
Stay well, and I hope to write to you soon. I am really bad at writing letters these days.
I’m so glad to get your letter before Thanksgiving! I went to Caribou this afternoon and the pop Christmas carols were blaring. I had planned to stay and read Aeschylus’s Agamemnon (the Greek continues after all these years and the plays are short), but I ended up leaving after a small coffee. Christmas should start later. I hadn’t expected reindeer rock and Christmas blends.
We do have Occupy …! That’s great that you marched with them. I haven’t marched, because I seem to find out about their protests too late, but I did see their encampment one day. It was a weekday, and no one was there, but there were lots of tents: I was impressed. The governor (Republican) kicked them off the Capitol lawn after a week, but the mayor (Democrat) offered them a small city park and they’re still there. They marched last weekend on a Republican presidential candidate Family Values Fest at a church (Romney was the only Republican who wasn’t super-Christian and didn’t show, so I suppose he represents the voice of semi-sanity among them), and some of the Occupiers also marched on the Democrats’ annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner. I must admit, I didn’t like that at all. Clearly some of the “Occupiers” are super-conservative. The Dems need all the support they can get.
And so that’s the Christmases past talking! Have a happy one!