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December 28, 2009

The Big Questions: Post Holiday Edition

Filed under: Holidays,The Big Question — Francesca @ 9:08 am

On this post-Christmas Monday, Francesca wants to know:


2- What was the best gift you GAVE for Christmas?

3- How was your holiday? (Be frank. We are friends here.)


  1. The best gift I received was “Retro Knits” by Kari Cornell and Jean Lampe. The best gift I gave was a limited edition, signed copy of “Little Brother” by Cory Doctorow. My honest opinion of my holiday: it STANK! We had a blizzard the weekend before, so the kids were home all week leading up to Christmas. I wasn’t able to do a bunch of shopping, so they didn’t get half the things on their Christmas list. My mother, who is normally very considerate of my son and my vegan lifestyle, forgot to make anything for us for Christmas dinner and by the end of the evening, I knew I was coming down with strep throat.

    Comment by Andrea — December 28, 2009 @ 9:52 am

  2. As far as best-of gifts go, I got a set of 3 Meet the Austins books by Madeline L’Engle, which I have been searching for, plus some candle holders from Partylite. My husband got Star Trek (the reboot) on Blu-Ray, which we are super happy about, and we got ourselves Memories of the Future by Wil Wheaton, plus two “Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.” mugs to match!

    I also got a wicked coat – wool, hooded, kelly green, three toggles and zipper.

    We got, for my mom, an iHome, and my dad, a knife set. I got the same knife set for my brother and brother-in-law. I got my sister & sister-in-law each a new decorative pillow for their houses (matched exactly to their colors) and a frame for photos. For my younger siblings, I got the newest Sonic Wii game.

    Comment by BrieCS — December 28, 2009 @ 11:00 am

  3. This was a really great Christmas for me because I found and gave things my loved ones *really* wanted! Plus, I actually got to sew for them. Ironically, I received a gift card for more fabric, so that was a great semi-O’Henry twist. The very best gift I gave was a fleece vest I sewed for my hubby. He’s been adamant that I not try to sew for him (memories of 70’s disasters made by his mom). When he opened his gift, he couldn’t believe that it was actually “homemade”!! Hee …

    Comment by pamici — December 28, 2009 @ 12:08 pm

  4. It was a low-budget Christmas for my whole family so there wasn’t much gift giving between the adults. The best “awww” present was just being able to spend time with my niece (7 weeks old) and nephew (21 mths). The best physical gift was the new Rabbids game for the Wii, hehe.

    My fave gifts given were for my nephew – the Dora backpack and a Skippy Jon Jones storybook. Watching a 21 yr old be ecstatic over a book is so heartwarming.

    Runner up: the t-shirt and tighty whities we bought for my father-in-law b/c that’s what my mother-in-law said he needed. LOL

    For some reason it was a downer of a Christmas compared to all years past, and not just because of the economy. Something was just “off” this year, but everyone still had a good time.

    Comment by Candice — December 28, 2009 @ 12:14 pm

  5. 1 – I received 24 double rolls of toilet tissue, all wrapped and tied up with ribbons under his tree from my BF who doesn’t give presents. (OK – he also paid for the new winter coat I had purchased from the Back Rack at Lands’ End.)
    2 – The best gift I gave was to my niece – some Christmas jewelry that had been my mom’s that we had purchased together or had given each other. My niece loved that theyhad been Grandma’s and I no longer have duplicates.
    3 – Christmas Eve was quiet and home alone after church due to nasty, icy roads. I went to BF’s brother’s home on Christmas Day – 14 of BF’s 15 siblings and families were there along children and grandchildren. Missed seeing my own family but that’s just the way it was this year.

    Comment by Jane H. — December 28, 2009 @ 12:44 pm

  6. 1. My husband took the seven small diamonds from his old (starter, bad, this is what happens when you marry after dating only three months and don’t talk about money and don’t go to pre-marital counseling, although he got two sweet stepdaughters and a nice mother in law out of it so it wasn’t a total loss marriage) wedding ring and had them made into chain drop earrings for me. Yes. Seven diamonds, two earrings, two lengths, so cool! I actually got them at my birthday in October, but they are my BD/Christmas present for the next two years.

    2. I arranged studio time for my husband to make a CD. He is a wonderful singer and loves to go out to karaoke bars. He is good friends with a guy who runs a karaoke show and has a friend with a studio. All I have to do is buy the beer and make cookies.

    3. We had a great day at home. My husband travels >50% for his job, so being at home is a luxury. He also works from home and his job has been really stressful (as has everyone’s, I think), so being at home and not working was a treat. We made a fabulous meal of cream-cheese bacon-wrapped jalapenos, bacon-wrapped beef tenderloin on the grill (yes, he grills even in the snow), corn pudding, and pear tart. I made cinnamon rolls for breakfast and took some to our neighbors. Church on Christmas Eve. Movies on Christmas. Lovely day.

    Comment by class factotum — December 28, 2009 @ 12:48 pm

  7. This was a fabulous Christmas at Casa Twistie.

    I got a lot of great stuff.Mr. Twistie has gotten beyond the ‘women don’t like to get kitchen stuff as gifts’ thing. He presented me with a Le Creuset stock pot and Rose Levy Beranbaum’s latest tome on cakes. My brother gave me a book about Samuel Sewell, one of the judges at the Salem witch trials. There was also jewelry and some other really great stuff…but I have to say the best Christmas gift EVER arrived a couple weeks ahead of schedule when my brother the medieval historian finally moved out five years after he moved in ‘for a month or two’ while he was out of a job.

    Best gift given? I managed to really surprise Mr. Twistie this year with a set if Jack Lemon movies. It contained one he’d been looking for literally for decades: Operation Mad Ball. The look on his face was worth the two months I spend panicked that he might find that collection on Amazon and order it for himself.

    It was a quiet day, with plenty of good food and good cheer. Oh, and homemade tamales from our next door neighbors. Yum. They seemed pleased with the chocolate chip cookies I sent over fresh from our oven, too.

    Oh, and class factotum? Great cooks think alike. I, too, made a pear tart. It also included cranberries and candied ginger over mascarpone cheese. Delish. I need to do it again and pay attention to measurements so I can pass on the goodness.

    Comment by Twistie — December 28, 2009 @ 1:17 pm

  8. 1. I got some money from my parents and my grandfather, and a Bento lunchbox and a 750GB hard drive (I’m a filmmaker and editor – this is an awesome present) from my boyfriend.

    2. I gave my boyfriend a DVD of Pixar’s UP. I gave his parents a ham from my secret farmer connection. I gave my mom the orchid pots she wanted. I gave my roommate a book of brilliant Kate Beaton comics.

    3. The holiday was great. It’s the first year I did not travel to the ancestral home, and while I was sad to miss out on seeing my family I’ll see them in the spring when I’m not trying to outfly a snowstorm between Chicago and New England. It’s the first year I bought my own Christmas tree and celebrated in my own way. I had Christmas eve with boyfriend’s parents and Christmas day with friends watching gay steampunk Sherlock Holmes and Christmas night sitting in my living room in the dark and quiet sipping tea and watching the tree lights. Good Christmas.

    Comment by JenniferP — December 28, 2009 @ 1:18 pm

  9. I got a beautiful pair of earrings and a gorgeous bag that I hope will last forever. But the best present was having all my family (including my dog, who was in the hospital last Christmas) with me… And seeing my mother’s face light up when she opened HER presents! She got a really cool new camera from my dad and Bon Jovi tickets from me… =) I think she had a good haul!

    Comment by J — December 28, 2009 @ 1:45 pm

  10. Twistie, that sounds yummy! Mascarpone and ginger! Do share!

    I love kitchen stuff and tools. I had a boyfriend who always hit it out of the ballpark with gifts. He gave me a belt sander one year. Still have it. Still love it. He gave me his antique Mexican textile another year. I wanted to return it when I broke up with him because I knew it was a prized possession but he was very hurt and insulted when I hinted at the idea. It remains framed over my fireplace to this day. I think I mentioned I have an engagement trash can. A fancy trash can, but a trash can nonetheless. My philosophy is make my everyday life easy, luxurious, and beautiful. Sometimes you do that with diamonds, sometimes you do that with a stockpot. It just takes a little bit of thought.

    Comment by class factotum — December 28, 2009 @ 3:02 pm

  11. 1. My husband got me a pair of pink maribou slippers and I unashamedly love them with a love that is more than love. I don’t know that they will get more wear than the uggs I bang around the house in and I am afraid our year-old cat is eyeing them with bad intent, but they are fun fun fun!

    2. I can’t believe I got my bowtie-wearing husband this, but I got him a designer hoodie with Poseidon on it. He loves it and it gives him something to wear that’s in between t-shirt and dress shirt.

    Comment by Lisa — December 28, 2009 @ 3:03 pm

  12. 1– Mostly books. I’ve recently discovered that my parents were right and I do love Calvin Trillin’s writing, and I’m trying to fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge of classic mysteries.

    2– A mixed case of wine for my parents. And some help in drinking it.

    3– Not the best holiday ever this year; my grandfather had a stroke last week and that pretty much dominated what was going on. But he’s recovering well, and I hear they’re thinking of holding Christmas again next year, so all in all, I won’t complain.

    Comment by daisyj — December 28, 2009 @ 3:25 pm

  13. For me: Julia & Julie DVD, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and an enamled dutch oven. Notice a theme?

    For him: 18v cordless power tools. He’s pleased as punch.

    Comment by sarahbyrdd — December 28, 2009 @ 3:36 pm

  14. 1- I got great gifts– a bitchin’ new haircut with fringe bangs, and a tune up for my convertible.

    2- The best gift I gave was a fascinator my leopard-wearing aunt had always wanted but would never buy for herself.

    3- It was hectic, but the best part was being together with family and some family friends. My mom usually hosts and cooks a traditional dinner, but was bedridden at the last minute so we decided to have it catered instead :)

    Comment by Lexi — December 28, 2009 @ 4:06 pm

  15. Received: a toss up between a renewed zoo membership (we get a LOT of use out of this during the year) and Guitar Hero World Tour with the drums and all.

    Given: The small figurines of aliens running off with the garden gnome for my husband. We’d been laughing at this thing for months.

    Overall: quiet but enjoyable. It was the first Christmas without one of the people we used to spend it with, so we knew it would be different. We had dinner with friends and sat around for hours talking and eating honeybaked ham and homemade cookies and drinking wine and mead and it was really quite fun.

    Comment by TropicalChrome — December 28, 2009 @ 4:08 pm

  16. 1- Didn’t get too many presents this year, since we’re all on reduced budgets. Although I am happy about the real, grown up stand mixer my mom got me, since my old hand mixer was starting to smell like a chimney every time I used it. It’s a Sunbeam Mixmaster and looks just like the one in my Grandma’s kitchen, which makes me smile.

    2- Almost a year ago I found an ornament on clearance at the Hallmark store and picked it up for my mom for under $5. It’s Yukon Cornelius and Rudolph from the old Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer christmas movie with Burl Ives. I was a little worried she wouldn’t be too enthused, since it was so small and she didn’t even have the time or energy this year to put up a tree or any decorations really, but it made her tear up just a little… and if you know my mom you know that means I done good :)

    3- Our whole holiday season was pretty much like the rest of our year has been- busy! We did Hannukah with my in-laws and at home, then there was Christmas Eve at my uncle’s; stockings at home, breakfast & presents at my folks’ house, dinner at my Grandma’s on Christmas Day; then birthday brunch for my MIL on Sunday, followed by an annual gathering at my cousins’ house we affectionately call “Swedish Christmas”. The good news is everyone was as well behaved as you could hope for, including the immature ones. The kids were good too.

    Comment by mini_pixie — December 28, 2009 @ 4:47 pm

  17. Received: an old-fashioned metal mailbox with a red flag.

    Given: baked all the Christmas cookies, a huge check off grandmother’s To-Do list.

    Overall: rough. Mom’s dating for the first time since Dad passed away, and the family dynamics were brutal: Mom giggling and making crude jokes over someone who’s not our dad, sisters snarling and making threats about New Year’s, aunts taking sides, and the idiot guy calling every four hours (“Hi Honey! Just calling to say I loooove you!”) to exacerbate the whole situation. Blecch.

    Thank you – I feel better now :)

    Comment by Shauna — December 28, 2009 @ 5:14 pm

  18. I got Halle by Halle Berry perfume gift set from my Aunt & Uncle. My hubby got me a kiss-ass pair of cowboy-ish boots my hubby. My brother and his wife got me a pair of cable knit opera length gloves. My other aunt got me a pair of maroon wrist length gloves with super-grip nubbies and a Starbuck’s gift card. My parents sent me a super soft throw blanket with matching booties in my fav color, red. My grandma gave me money. And a patron at work gave me a box of candy for helping out her family so much.

    The best gift I gave was The Basketball Book by the Bill “The Sports Guy” Simmons to my husband. He hasn’t stopped reading it since, and it as huge as a phone book! My hubby and I also gave everyone in my family one of those nice looking charging stations, where you can charge all your phones and iPods in one place in a covered box. We liked it so much, we want for ourselves. lol.

    Compared to last year, this holiday was basically the same as last year. I’m in the middle of a depressive cycle, and I wasn’t in the spirit as much as I would like to be.

    Comment by brooklynshoebabe — December 28, 2009 @ 5:17 pm

  19. I got goodies from Pampered Chef, including a new pair of their elbow-high oven mitts. I gave the SO a really nice jacket that he’s been wearing all weekend. We had a quiet Christmas together & then headed for an overnight trip to Charleston SC. Burritos & margaritas @ Jaunita Greenburg’s on King Street. Yummy.

    Comment by Phyllis — December 28, 2009 @ 5:42 pm

  20. mini_pixie…..the stand-up mixer=best.tool.ever!

    Comment by Lisa — December 28, 2009 @ 6:13 pm

  21. One more thing…one more gift to myself. Today I stood up to a fat hater, and I did so in an assertive and pleasant way. I RULE!!!

    I hope everybody loves their pressies!

    Comment by Lisa — December 28, 2009 @ 6:14 pm

  22. Received – a briefcase. A for real one, since I started a new job 6 months ago and have already gotten 2 promotions. It appears I have a real career, just like a grown-up! :)

    Given – an LP by Wanda Jackson called Rockin’ with Wanda. My stepmom, Wanda, and I are not particularly close. She is very picky in regards to her taste, so I had no idea what to get her. I saw the Rockin with Wanda LP and immediately grabbed it. I didn’t know if she had a record player. But Wanda Jackson was wearing spandex leggings AND pantyhose on the album cover, so that pretty much sealed the deal. It turns out my stepmom does have a record player, and she immediately fell in love with the song “Fujiyama Mama” because she’s so mad she’s about to blow her top. Best $1 gift EVER.

    Christmas was great because I spent it by myself. No family drama, didn’t have to be around said stepmom or around my mom. I stayed at home, knit, and watched movies all day. I even attempted cooking with some amount of success. A very good day!

    Comment by Melissa M — December 28, 2009 @ 7:57 pm

  23. Best gift recieved – my BIL got us an aluminum pressure cooker; we’ve been talking about buying one for ages and haven’t bothered

    Best gift given – Rock Band II for the Wii – we bought it for our god-daughter (7) and her step-sister (8)

    Overall – This was one of the better Christmas seasons I’ve had in years for a number of reasons: 1. I was not on call for the first time in nearly 5 years. 2. My DD at 16 months was really old enough to enjoy the holiday this year. 3. I had 4 days off in a row 4. I got stuff I really wanted and everyone seems to like what we gave them.

    Comment by dr nic — December 28, 2009 @ 9:14 pm

  24. 1: Best Gift recieved- A Surprise day with my husband- we went to a cheesy movie that was filmed in our adopted home state- not the state we currently live in, had a funky long walk in the rain (sounds horrid, but one of my favorite things.) and then Dinner at a place I have wanted to go to since they opened. It was awesome to spend a day just hanging out with my husband- no computers, no cell phones, no family drama. It rocked.

    2: Best Gift given- bought a very special teenager in my life a very grown up kitchen gift- she loved it- yay.

    Really had an issue with the holidays this year. Just could ot get into the spirit. I was laid off this past January and am one of the many Americans who have not found employment in this economy. We were unable to afford travel to our families, or any of the gifts we usually do. My Salary pretty much paid for all of the fun things & Charitable donations and not having extra give in the budget made it dificult. I really hated not being able to make the charitable donations, or shop for the kids in my life. In the big scheme of things, we are lucky- we still have our house, and food, and our health, but yes, this year the holidays were harder.
    I still believe in the miracle of Christmas.

    Comment by Kimks — December 28, 2009 @ 9:15 pm

  25. Best Gift I Got: Vegetarian cookbook from my cousin
    Best Gift I Gave: my time
    How was my Christmas? It was a busy one because I was still working on my freelance job and on my baking business. My mom thought I was being distant. Honestly, I didn’t feel to bad about giving that impression. I think Xmas is all BS, anyway.

    Sorry for being so cynical.

    Comment by All Women Stalker — December 28, 2009 @ 9:21 pm

  26. I got a gorgeous 1940’s vintage coat, dark green wool with a shoulder cape and black velvet lapels. The best gift I gave was the DVD of the first season of “Big Bang Theory”, which I’ve been enjoying watching along with the recipient.

    Our family decided to embrace the Jewish side of our heritage, so we went to the movies and had Chinese food. Our little town doesn’t have any Chinese restaurants open on Christmas day, so we cooked black bean chicken and potstickers at our place. It was a ymmy and relaxed Christmas.

    Comment by Margo A — December 29, 2009 @ 4:32 am

  27. Best gift received-toss up between the 12mp camera that replaces my old slightly mangled (camera had a run in with a rock while hiking) 8mp camera and a gps unit for my car so I can stop getting lost.

    Best gift given- I finally (!!!) finished the scarf I was knitting for my father, now to get it in the mail to him…

    My Christmas was pretty good. I’m home visiting from college so its nice to be home (the free food is great too). I brought my cat since I was going to be here for a week so its been interesting keeping her from breaking all my mother’s stuff. She spends her time sitting on the table growling and hissing at my parent’s dogs so that’s amusing. My brother made it home for the first time in 2 years and we managed not to kill each other (we are as opposite as you can imagine which causes…..tension). Of course he was home for less then 48 hours so…All in all I call it a great holiday!

    Comment by Jeni — December 29, 2009 @ 5:43 am

  28. 1. Got my Wii finally along with Wii Fit Plus. I’ve been exercising like crazy on it and it’s so much fun.

    2. Gave my husband a Kindle, which he’s been drooling over for months. He loves it and is driving me crazy with it, mostly because I’m the one doing the tech support for it.

    3. Overall it was pretty quiet. Plans fell through, so we tried making a duck for the first time. it was yummy. So I’d call it a successful holiday overall.

    Comment by Jen — December 29, 2009 @ 10:30 am

  29. I posted this yesterday but it looks like it never went through, so I’m trying again today:

    1. I received lots of good stuff, including a cashmere sweater, some RayBans that look fabulous on me, a couple of gorgeous scarves, bath and body stuff, and this book, which I cannot wait to read, plus lots of cute little stocking stuffers.

    2. The best gift I gave was probably the Cuisinart slow cooker/crock pot that I gave to my mom. I didn’t realize that she’d never had a crock pot until she requested one for Christmas, so I got her a really fancy one and she loved it.

    3. My holiday was really good and it’s not quite over yet – there will be one more Christmas get-together and gift exchange when my older brother and his family come to visit later this week.

    Comment by Cat — December 29, 2009 @ 12:50 pm

  30. Best gift I gave to someone else: a gift certificate to each of my daughters to Bliss Spa in NY.
    Best gift I received: An earring and bracelet set by Roberto Coin. (weee!)

    Comment by Lilly Munster — December 29, 2009 @ 8:02 pm

  31. Got: a gorgeous found-object sculpture of a bird from my beloved husband

    Gave: a bunch of well-appreciated gifts, but the best reaction was from my niece for a pretty pretty princess dress (after sulkily reacting to three previous, gorgeous dresses she’d been given, her eyes lit up on seeing this one, and she wore it the whole long weekend)

    Holiday: again with my family, which was wonderful as usual. My parents (at whose place we stayed) kept commenting that it was one of their best Christmases ever. Lots of singing, eating, drinking, bikeriding, bookreading, cricket watching, swimming, and general relaxing. Notwithstanding my eye infection, and unpleasant gastro-intestinal response to the antibiotics – all now improving.

    Comment by abdabs — December 29, 2009 @ 8:13 pm

  32. 1. Ina Garten’s At Home book with the most beautiful wooden spoon ever! New embroidery scissors! Rare spices including real saffron.

    2. I embroidered a T-shirt with two dancing flappers and a victrola for my future brother in law. He really liked it and everyone was looking at it exclaiming about the detailing.

    3. After my first Christmas ever, my future mother and father in law decided to talk to my fiance and I. They want us to postpone the wedding and think we are too young to know ourselves or to get married. They want to know why we have to get married now. They want us to know there is no shame in it. It’s very easy for them to say because they aren’t financing this wedding! I am 7 months out and $10,000 in. If I cancel I will lose my deposits which amount to about $5000 out the bloody window. What pisses me off is that they decided to do this now. We got engaged in February!! They’ve had ten months to say something and six of them were before I’d booked anything! And I’m not even going to mention what she said to me about my relationship with my mother. I’ve been trying to make that work in a WASP approved way since I was 12 and it ain’t happened yet. We have great communication and it’s at the top of our lungs.

    Comment by Sara A. — December 29, 2009 @ 10:48 pm

  33. Best gift received: A toss-up between a 10-inch screen tiny laptop perfect for travel and a delicate diamond and white gold pendant (*such* a lucky girl this year!)

    Best gift given: My 20 year old cousin is going to be travelling overseas for the first time this year and I gave him the Lonely Planet gap year travel book, which spells out everything from the need to apply for visas to getting work OS or a mixed dozen of Margaret River semillons, verdehlos and sauvignon blancs for my Dad.

    Overall, Christmas was great this year – my Chinese in-laws were visiting and cooked Christmas lunch so we had double-cooked pork belly, garlic and chili prawns, deep fried eggplant and egg and pork wontons, and a sort of terrine of red bean and pork and cold rice (so delicious). It was all very different from our normal turkey and ham meals, but was awesome.

    Everyone was pleasant to each other, and ate too much and drank just enough, so all around, it was the nicest Christmas I have had in recent memory, even though it was the first without either of my grandmothers.

    Comment by Alocin — December 29, 2009 @ 11:16 pm

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