For my birthday Brent took me to a cabin in Northern California that was in the middle of this pastoral valley, and I got really into the idea that if we could just move there- or someplace like there- then the two of us could stop being neurotic, unnecessarily psychologically tortured people. And this was even after we went to get dinner late one night from the gas station diner in town, only to discover that on Sundays it turned into some kind of thumping Spanish techno with a DJ who remained parked in his plastic chair, the only dancer on his floor a chubby four-year-old who gave a nonstop series of facial expressions loaded with twenty times the intensity of anything J. Lo has ever mustered. Even then, it seemed like a very peaceful and rejuvenating life option.
So when we got home, I decided that this year's holiday wrapping theme would be "Away In A Cabin," and I mistakenly believed that paper-wise this would be an easy theme to carry out because it's not like the one I wanted to do last year, "Underwater Yuletide," which finally got put aside when I couldn't track down any wrap with fish wearing Santa hats. I figured that cabins are a very typical wintery thing and took confidence from the fact that there are lots of holiday greeting cards with Thomas Kindadian cabins glowing amidst blue snow, wreaths hanging upon the gold-warmed windows, and I naively assumed that I would be able to find a number of cabin-oriented papers, especially in this day and age of the Internet. But no, it is very, very quiet out there on this particular wrapping front. I almost gave up on the theme, except I happened to go on Ebay that day and search for "miniature fireplace lot," thinking that if I could just find a bunch of tiny, plastic chimneys to put atop the gifts, as if the packages were cabins themselves, then I would find a way to make this all work even though this season, almost every wrapping store is featuring graphic owl prints lifted straight from an Ikea bed sheet. And lo, a holiday miracle: a woman was unloading fourteen of said items, and she was the only one in the online auction world doing so at that specific juncture in time. So I bought the fireplace lot, and I'm sure she turned to her husband that evening and said, "Whoa, someone actually bought the fireplace lot," and then I proceeded to solve the problem of cabin gift wrap.
I realized I would have to get it custom made. So I found a company online that will print whatever you want on rolls of paper, whether that be your face or your children's faces or your local hair salon's logo or even your penis, if that is something that excites you, and then I went and found images of winter cabins via an image Google search. Keeping in mind the delicate Christmas, Hanukah, and areligious balance I go for every year, I located pictures that naturally had a blue tint, a red tint, and then a more neutral white and charcoal palette. The rolls arrived, and I was happy with them. On the way home from breakfast the next morning, I manipulated Brent into accompanying me to Michael's Arts & Crafts store, abuzz with silk poinsettia enthusiasts, and I picked up two kinds of iridescent glitters to mimic snow (and sprinkle atop snow drift cotton balls), sticky translucent jewels to indicate ice, and gold and silver paint pens with which I intended to write the recipients' names. Getting ahold of these pens was an unexpected challenge because Michael's insists on locking up their paint pens from (?) neighborhood hooligans, and so we had to wait for a significant period at the glass case while a seasonally employed teenager with epically bad breath tried every single key on his huge ring until he finally located the right one...and then broke it off in the keyhole. Don't worry. It all panned out within an hour.
So anyway here it is, holiday theme 2011, which came about, in the words of Phil Collins, "against all odds." An overview of the gifts from a few angles:
Closeups of the chimneys, cotton ball snow tufts, and snow-themed ribbons:
And closeups of some of the papers (the blue one didn't photograph well, so it's not here):
And that does it for me. Happy holidays everyone, and may your new year be visited by frequent dots of mental peace.