I hate traveling at the holidays. Flying or driving, it doesn’t matter – it’s just unpleasant. As a result, I rarely visit my family during the holidays. I go at spring break, which is close to my dad’s birthday, and/or in the fall, at the time of my grand-nephew’s birthday. It’s much warmer where they are at those times, as well. Since there’s nothing to do there but sit on the porch and observe nature, it needs to be warm enough to do that. At the holidays, it’s not.
Fortunately, I have an extended family of wonderful friends here, who make sure that I always have someplace to go on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. Often, that task falls to one particular friend. She’s one of my favorite people, and she is and always has been extremely generous. She is married to a medical doctor, and they do very well. They live in a big house on the water, but they’re not pretentious at all. (He’s driven the same car for 10 years, and hers is at least 5 years old. Just one example.) Dinner at their house is always a feast, but they still do potluck too. I think they know that it makes people feel better to not arrive empty handed.
Anyway, at Christmas, my friend always gets me a gift. It’s never anything big, but it is always something beautiful. Often it’s from one of our boutique-type gift shops in town. I have no idea what she spends, and I don’t want to know – but it’s hard to reciprocate. If she wants something, she goes and buys it. She doesn’t collect anything, and she doesn’t like clutter. She and her husband had a significant wedding anniversary this summer, and another friend and I had a terrible time finding anything we thought she’d like and use. We finally ended up with a candle thing, and it was nice, but how many candles can someone use? I know that I have enough to last the rest of my life, if I never acquire another one.
This year, with money tighter than usual, I was really at a loss as to what I should do – but then it hit me. Bake something! Not just something run-of-the-mill, but something special. So I’ve been searching fruit bread recipes (not fruit cake – argh!) for something fancy enough to be a gift yet simple enough for me to make it. I have several candidates, and I’ll decide a little closer to the time.
Next year, maybe I’ll have some homemade jam or tomato sauce to give. J