Dearest Rachel –
A few deliveries arrived over the weekend for the folks, as I work on the beginning of the holiday-season shopping list. The last quarter of the year includes quite a few extras for the family that not everyone has to deal with, such as
- Mom and Dad’s anniversary at the beginning of October
- Jen’s birthday on the heels of that
- Mom’s birthday shortly before Thanksgiving (which is a holiday in and of itself, requiring certain preparations, but at least, no gift-giving. There’s still shopping to be done for it, however, but little more than a few additional items to add to the grocery list)
- Niece Joanna’s birthday early in December
- Dad’s birthday just before Christmas
- And of course, there’s Christmas itself
Bear in mind, our situation is such that the financial impact of this gift-giving frenzy is somewhat muted – as is the fact that many of us in the family have gotten to the point where we’ve all sort of agreed that we have, more or less, enough. You’ll also recall how, for the last few years, we’ve basically agreed to keep gifts to a certain monetary limit, and then spent a certain amount as a family for clothes and the like to give to local shelters and other charities.
But with the growing concerns about supply chain issues and the like – and the fact that I can’t leave any of the shopping up to you any more – I’ve been doing what I can to get everything done sooner than usual, and most of it online. This includes having some of it just delivered directly to the intended recipient.
That’s what happened yesterday evening; just as the gang and I were setting up another game of Clue online, my phone rang. It was Mom, informing me that a large tin of popcorn had just arrived on their front stoop (on a Sunday evening, no less! Even I was surprised by that), complete with a photo of her from Venice during the last family cruise through the Mediterranean, and a message from Daniel and me, wishing her a happy birthday. At the time, I acknowledged her appreciation, and returned to the game, secure in the knowledge that another gift-giving holiday had been taken care of.
I’d also need to bring a gift to the ‘office’ today that arrived at our place over the weekend. For their anniversary, the folks had requested a collection of DVDs and CDs from a family of gospel singers that would not be available at the time, but could at least be pre-ordered. Well, everything was completed and shipped out to me while I was driving the running teams up to Camp Awana, so I brought them (still in the shipping envelope – far be it for me to steal the joy of opening the package from them!) this morning, to additional appreciation.
Mom showed me the popcorn tin, as well (and while I could have gotten a size larger, just one look at it made me realize I probably made the right choice in sticking with this one – she’d never finish anything larger in enough time before the rest went stale. Remember the one they got us for Christmas 2016, commemorating the World Series win? Yeah, we pretty much had to throw everything out of there, as we never got to any of it), including the photo and the note. Then she said something that threw me off in a way that things just do these days, you know…
“It’s not the same, only having those two names on there.”
Everything we ever gave to anyone in the family was always tagged as being from “Randy, Rachel and Daniel.” It’s going to be just “Randy and Daniel” for now on, and it just feels so wrong. It is what it is, and there’s nothing to be done about it, but that doesn’t make it easy to deal with it. I try (and apparently succeed) to not think too much about it, but a remark like that is more than enough to remind me that this season is going to be lacking in so many ways we never expected it to be. And indeed, every holiday season from here on out is going to be like this going forward.
I have no idea what to do about it, either.
For the time being, I’m coping by just keeping busy. The holiday rush is pretty much upon us, and I’ve been crossing this or that person off the list as far as what needs to be gotten. The kids are taken care of, and Jen knows what to get for the folks for Christmas (and can get a better discount, so I’m leaving it in her capable hands). I still need to think of what to get her and Bill – and of course, Daniel’s a challenge in his own right. I have a handful of specific things so far (including a replacement for something we got him last year that he’s loved so much, it’s starting to wear out a bit. This way, he’ll have a backup), but it’s not really enough for the whole family yet.
And of course, I have no idea what to ask anyone in the family for. You’ll remember how I used to ask for a way out of my job back in the day, and how we both knew that – while it might be possible at some point – it wasn’t something you could get for me as a present. The last two years, we’d had that, and then it was basically a case of having everything I might want or need. We even had all the time in the world to be together, and we would ride out this whole pandemic thing and all would be right with the world when we came out the other side. No gifts were necessary.
I hadn’t expected that I’d have one of the greatest gifts I’d ever been given recalled so soon thereafter. And there aren’t any replacements in stock.