Someone asked me to weigh in on the Christmas loot that LFG and I accumulated and I figured I better get to it before the Holiday memories become even more distant. But before diving into the materialistic nirvana of our goods, let me offer up a bit of prophylactic karma. (Karma for my damn self—to shroud this “look at all the cool and expensive stuff that we got” story in hopefully, some level of social responsibility and gratitude so that God won’t slam me with another broken molar this weekend. You my friends, are responsible for your own karma depleting/escalating tactics. Shut up.)
I like stuff. But I’ve learned some tough lessons about allowing money and possessions to ride in the front seat of my life journey buggy. And…I believe that giving anonymously has more gravitas than indexing the amount you give to how prominent your name will be on the donors list or where and beside whom you’ll be seated at the charity event. But for a moment, I’ve just gotta mention what LFG and I give, before we preen about what we get.
Our charitable giving is kid centric. It’s my choice and I like the measureable efficacy of the money that’s given to a select few charities. It’s the business modelling-measure the value of the effort-consultant in me. I’m hopelessly commercially minded. It’s what I do for a living. And to that end, I like the fact that when I give two hundred and fifty bucks to Smile Train, I am guaranteed that at least one child will receive the restorative surgery necessary to literally change forever, the trajectory of their life-journey. So there are a half-dozen of those little people somewhere in the world that as a result of what LFG and I’ve done in 2011, have mouths, lips and palates that now look right and function properly. Ok, before you begin to contrive your scalding ass comments, calling me out for bragging about our charitable giving; chill out. At the risk of redundancy, I’m telling you that this little bit of giving pales breathtakingly when compared to the obscene level of getting that LFG and I experienced at Christmas.
And we love Meg Fairfax Fielding for about one point eight gazillion reasons and if for no other, we would give every year to Woodbourne. But the other reason that we always give to them is that older kids seem to get forgotten by society faster than others. It’s no secret that a healthy new-born child usually gets adopted quickly. But let a kid get a little older or have a special need or be a minority and the chances of placing them become much tougher. So I believe that places like Woodbourne are doing sublime work by creating an environment where their kids have a better chance of growing up and becoming self-sufficient members of society. LFG and I gave to Woodbourne in 2011 and we’ll do it again this year.
And finally, my business partners and I decided about a decade ago to change how we expressed appreciation for our clients. My partners and I are blessed with healthy, happy children. LFG of course, is smarter and prettier than any of them but that’s beside the point. We decided that instead of sending all of the holiday gift baskets and booze and typical loot that every other vendor and consultant also sends, we’d do something better. The Make a Wish Foundation offers, as you probably know, an opportunity for a terminally ill child to experience their dream trip, event or whatever. I can’t imagine what it feels like to learn that one’s child is terminally ill. But what I can imagine is how it feels to know that a terminally ill child will realize their wish. We send one child each year on their way…to whatever experience it is that will bring them some joy. And we make sure that our clients know that we are doing so in their honor.
Whew, now that I’ve gotten all that karmic penance shite out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff. And let’s start with LFG. This Christmas was different in a couple of ways and mostly because LFG is older and the magic of the “throw any toy under the tree and they’ll squeal with delight” strategy is over. She wants, surprise I know, in addition to a sock monkey hat... clothes and money and gadgets. But I ended up faring rather well with my choices for her.
I’m gonna begin with the one thing that I was proudest of…LFG delight-wise. LFG tried on this cute little blazer several months ago in Brooks Brethren. It was too expensive for a jacket that even she couldn’t articulate how/when/where she would wear it. I figured that if I ever saw it at 60% off, I’d buy it for her. But from time to time, she would bring up unprompted, “that navy blazer.” And then she saw a ladies standard, less twee looking navy blazer in Brooks and said that she liked that one better.
Alas, it ain’t easy to find a navy blazer for a little girl. I tucked into J. Crew on Christmas Eve eve…the day I began my shopping this year, and saw a rack of ladies navy blazers. A nice sales lady talked it out with me and we decided that I should give a ladies size “0” a go. She said that if it didn’t work that I could return it and she’d order a “00” to try.
Folks…the navy blazer was THE hit of all the gets. LFG loved it and when I said that we could have Suh shorten the sleeves she resisted…demonstrating that she’d want to push the sleeves up on her arms. And like her tacky-a_s fuzzy daddy, she undid a couple of the working sleeve buttons.
I’m not sure why this particular gift of all things, had me bursting with pride. Maybe there's some kind of Trad neuroses bubbling up courtesy of the iconic navy blazer. Shut up.
I think that Hunter Wellies were barn mucking, utilitarian boots for generations. Not no more. They come in an array of colors and the fleece interlining socks are an interchangeable fuzzy accoutrement that just adds whimsy to the whimsical.
LFG preferred purple boots and she’s got pink and purple fleece fuzzies to swap out when so inspired.
And she loved the Vineyard Vines fleece vest and bracelet so much that we gave a similar vest to one of my business partner’s daughters.
And then LFG’s stocking began to ring. Yes, I bought her an iPhone. With very rigorous utilization criteria and consequences associated. And we allowed LFG to collaborate with us regarding what the rules should be. Before you tisk tisk and eye-roll over this one, hear me out. LFG already had a cell phone in her back pack for emergencies. She already had an iTouch for games and Apps and all the other things kids do with these delightful Apple devices. She is required to give her iTouch to charity. Her old cell phone is now obviously, shut off. Her mother and I have full access to her passwords, her emails and her texts. And on a selfish note, I can now call her and text her without having to undergo the hit and miss triage/middle person process of calling her mother and seeking telephone access to LFG that way.
So as always, it was a good Christmas for LFG.
And the obscenities don’t end there. For I was extry prone this year to practice a few highly skilled tactics myself. First, I did the “buy one for them and one for me” gift strategy. Next, I did the “tell them exactly what you want so that you don’t get shitty gifts” thing. And the outcome was perfect.
I love one hundred year old lead soldiers but I’m also a huge fan of how Bill Hocker of Berkeley California interprets the old ones. His story, not only about how he came into creating these contemporary versions of antique toys, but about the people he employs to help him, is a great one.
And so I got the Hocker Boer War Observation Balloon and another grouping of his little lead men.
Fuzzy Dog sweaters from J. Press are nice but they are so darned thick that unless it’s twenty degrees, my a_s tends to overheat in them. But I’m really digging the less expensive, thinner version that Rugby offers.
And of course, my Hulme leather Gladstone bag from Sterling and Burke is stellar. The jury is still out on how well it’s gonna work as a carry-on. Stay tuned.
My Anglo American tortoise sunglasses frames served me well for over a decade. And I decided on my Gotham stopover the week before Christmas, to replace them with an updated, lighter colored tortoise version. Same size, same everything. The guys at A.R. Trapp just popped my prescription lenses into the new frames and bam.
Uncle Alan Flusser bestowed upon me yet another pair of his bespoke Poulsen and Skone shoddings from thirty years ago. Sublime.
Oh, and I almost forgot the most intriguing find that I gifted myself this Christmas. It was absolute serendipity that I was offered these four large scale, hundred year old Georg Heyde lead soldiers. They are rare to the point of virtually unobtainable. I’d only seen one of these size soldiers one other time before. And you don’t even want to know what the tariff was in these four musket-damn-teers.
I’ve gotta close this drivel and get back to writing stuff that actually pays wages. I think that perhaps now you see why I took the time to drone on at length about giving…before crowing so much…about getting.
Onward. Having gotten. And now giddily prepping for an LFG weekend.