Virtual Valentines Day

As you all know, we are on a tight budget since I was laid off in November.  We don’t typically celebrate these types of holidays with gifts or lavishness anyhow, but this year we decided on a very different kind of celebration.

We decided to exchange virtual gifts.  So, we would still shop just like we were really buying the other person something special, but money wasn’t an issue.  We would put it together with the same excitement of a real gift, and we would exchange them on V day.
My gift to my hubby was a new macbook, with pro-tools on it.  He liked it.
My hubby’s gift to me was this:

Happy Valentine’s 

Day 2009

To my wife  –

As we have decided to give virtual gifts this year, I have created you an electronic document that lists all of your gifts in sequential order.  Enjoy.

1.        Breakfast with Matthew – I thought it would be nice to have Matthew McConaughey make you breakfast since you like him and he would be fun to have breakfast with.

2.    Then, you would be escorted by limousine to Coronado for a spa treatment. FUN and UBER relaxing.

3.       Then, you would come back to the house and we would head out for a walk through Torrey Pines State Park with Elliott and Whiskey.  Since it’s virtual, dogs are now allowed at the State Park.  J

4.    We would probably be hungry.  Good thing…  because Colin Melloy will be at our house fixing lunch for you.  After lunch, you get a private acoustic performance in the living room and a kiss on the cheek from your “other” boyfriend.

5.       Then… it’s off to a $1000 shopping spree at Fashion Valley.  Elliott and I will follow you around in a shopping cart while you go crazy!

6.       I hope you worked up an appetite, because we are going to Bombay for dinner.  MMMM…  Delicious Dizzy Noo Shak!

7.       And when all is said and done… we put Elliott down and you get to snuggle up to me for some sweet lovin’ (pictures too graphic to post)!  What a great Valentine’s Day.  You must certainly love me!  Happy Virtual Valentines.  

       Now, is my husband awesome or what? 



My favorite gift ever

My sister had just gotten out of a drug and alcohol rehab.  I had offered her a place to stay after she graduated the program and she accepted.  I was so proud of her.  She had made such a mess out of her life, but had managed to get herself clean and sober.
I spent several weekends painting, cleaning, and making the ‘room’ special for her.  It wasn’t much really, but it was hers and contrary to the rehab–she had a door and didn’t have to share it (except when we needed to access the laundry area).
My sister has always been hard working, and high strung.  She didn’t have a car, and back then I lived out in the boonies.  So, she would commute with me to my job in a mall.  She found a job working at a food service place, and moved up quickly.  The owner took a liking to her, and saw she had potential.  In short order, she saved up enough money to buy a car.  But, before she did the holidays were upon us.  We all were tight on cash, but she hadn’t seen many people in our family for several years and she seemed to want to make a good impression.
But, being prideful, she wanted to buy her own gifts for the family.  We shopped around, and nothing seemed to fit the budget.  So, she decided to make her gifts.  She decided to make dream catchers for everyone.  Neither then nor now would I call myself a fan of dream catchers.  But, my sister made one for each member of our family, printed out a special message in each, and wrapped them up.  She once again had carved her own path.
This was and still is the most treasured gift I ever received.  The sacrifice, the heartfelt sincerity, the genuine love and purity behind the dream catcher makes it irreplaceable.  I still have it hanging in my bedroom window-12 years later.  
Each time my sister is struggling, each time she is contemplating a bad decision, each time I want to tell her how much I respect and admire her–I can show her the dream catcher and know that we share the same feelings and memories.  
The dream catcher symbolizes, for me, what the holidays are meant to feel like.  
A few months later, my sis saved up enough money to buy a car.  And shortly thereafter moved out.  We still talk at least once a week, and I will always love her unconditionally regardless of her decisions.

Can I do this…?

and actually put this into action…I am not sure. But, I like the idea and have been thinking about since I received the email.

Even if you use cloth diapers (or no diapers), and buy only secondhand baby clothes and toys, your best efforts at environmentally-sustainable parenting may be sabotaged by well-intentioned family and friends. As the shower gifts roll in, followed by birthday and holiday presents, the piles begin to grow, and it becomes apparent that something must be done to curb the consumerism–but what?

Just speak up! Write a letter, briefly outlining your point of view, providing lots of eco-friendly gift alternatives, and send it to potential gift-givers. Here are some guidelines to follow:
Be positive.
Express your gratitude for their generosity, keeping in mind that gifts are being given with the best intentions.
Provide a plethora of alternative gift ideas. Here are some examples:
A coupon for a trip to the museum, fire station, or swimming pool
Music or art lessons
A homemade gift, like a sack of small bean bags
A useful gift, such as a flashlight, stepstool, or kid-sized rake
A poem, a song, or a puppet show.
Don’t send the letter right after receiving a gift–this may be perceived as ungrateful.
Send it well before the holiday season or birthday party, to allow for plenty of time for planning.

Spread the word

I often say that our children aren’t allowed to have toys at home. And as often as I espouse such ridiculous statements, I get looks of disbelief from family and friends.

I don’t really mean our kids literally cant have toys. But, I do want to limit the amount of toys, plastic, junk, and meaningless consumerism that comes with having children. I have already resigned myself to being a poor example of environmental awareness by opting for disposable diapers. I have tried to make up for the guilt of littering our landfills by gratefully accepting a ton of hand-me-down clothes, shoes, hats, and baby accoutrement’s from loving friends (which I am more than thrilled about).

What I want our generous family to adopt is the long term idea that I want to create memories, and not clutter. That it is more about the time that is put into something, than the money that is spent. This doesn’t mean that I am not 100% appreciative for everything that they do and share with us. But, I would much rather share a great collective memory than possess an item of material wealth.

I want to share this philosophy with my children too. I want them to appreciate the time that a family member spends with them, a special outing that they go on, a trip to the zoo just ‘Grandma and I’, or a handmade item. I want them to realize that the most important things in life are the relationships you create and nurture, the trust that you build and the love that is exchanged between friends and family.

I hope that I will be able to articulate this to our loved ones, without hurting any feelings or ego’s.