Gift Usage

Posted By Jesse
Gift-giving is not one of my biggest strengths. Lisa was an amazing gift-giver but I think it’s because it gave her an excuse for more shopping. But even beyond picking things out, she had that sort of mind that was always thinking about the next birthday or Christmas coming up. Typically by the time Christmas shopping season came around, she was already done, having kept a watchful eye out for presents while on trips and vacations. I’m more of the “how late are you open on Christmas Eve?” kind of guy.
The other thing Lisa and Danny are both good at is establishing “themes” for birthdays and Christmas for the kids: they let you know what the big thing is going to be and it helps you pick a relevant accessory. Plus, if the kid is already excited about said big ticket item, they’re that much more likely to be excited about every related gift. It’s a win-win. When DJ got her cell phone, I got her a case. When Michelle got a big art easel, I gave her cool crayons and other supplies.

the picture belies the excitement of first piercing

This year one of Stephanie’s Christmas themes was EARRINGS! She got her ears pierced just before Christmas and must have gotten 30 pair of them in December to get her collection started. I joined in the theme: I got her an earring stand and a little wooden box with a design on it to hold loose ones. I was pleased with the purchase.

But not as pleased as I was a few weeks later when I first noticed that she actually uses them! Typically I’m happy if my gift gets picked up after the wrapping comes off; seeing it put to practical use is a whole new ball game.
Being thoughtful and sweet is something Stephanie comes by naturally, but I have learned that putting presents to use is a specific skill that she has inherited from Danny’s mother. From what I have been told she has an extra gene that allows her to mentally label every sweater or serving tray or electronic device that she ever received as a present with the name of the giver. Then, if that person is visiting, she will being wearing or using the gift. Not only that, she does it naturally, never seeming like she’s planned it this way, so it really does seems as if you have always given her the perfect gift.
Michelle has been learning in cotillion about the proper way to receive a compliment. Stephanie and her grandmother could teach classes on the best way to receive a gift, a way that makes the giver feel good. It’s a gift they have.

Christmas Eve

Posted by Danny

On Christmas Eve I was plundering through presents in the bottom of my closet, it’s a good size walk-in that I shared with Lisa.  I happened to look up at the top shelf,

a place I’d looked 100 times before this year.  There are a number of bags up there with Lisa’s stuff in them.  I had never been compelled to open them, but one in particular caught my eye that afternoon.  For some reason, I reached up.  When I opened it, I saw a Mickey Mouse dressed in a Santa suit.  I smiled remembering our family vacation trip last December between Lisa’s treatment and surgery.  Stephanie bought a Minnie dressed as Mrs. Santa and Lisa said, “I hate to have a Minnie without a matching Mickey.”  My response, “We don’t need any more frickin’ stuffed animals!”  Apparently she purchased it to give to a kid at a later date.  Isn’t it interesting that I opened that bag on Christmas Eve?  I wrapped it for the girls from mom.

If ever there was a doubting Thomas, it is I.  I like to touch, see, feel, and smell before I trust or believe.  I can almost hear Lisa defending me up in heaven.

“He really didn’t mean that.

I know, I know God but he really is a good guy.

Let me go down there and give him a sign; maybe that’ll rattle him.

You’re gonna let him in aren’t you?”

Sometimes I think that the signs are here for true hope and faith.  Sometimes I’m just too stupid to see them.

Teacher Gifts (on the cheap!)

Posted by Danny

Thank you ma’am, Thank you ma’am…

Teacher gifts were getting me down.  I talked to three moms and all were purchasing gift certificates.  With 3 kids and 17 teachers, if you only spent $5 each, that would be 85 bucks.  Damn!  I’m not spending that much on Uncle Jesse and he’s my kids’ second parent right now!

The family gathered around the kitchen bar to discuss our dilemma.  What if we made hot chocolate and delivered doughnuts before school?  What if Jesse played the guitar and we individually caroled to each teacher?  They’d laugh and feel special.  I’d save $65!

Sung to Jingle Bells (four Tanners and Jesse singing at the top of our lungs):

Dashing through the halls
In a Lands End uniform
Each morning you greet us
With smiles so big and warm
We thank you for the things
You each us everyday
We know that grades are coming soon
We hope we get straight A’s

Thank you, sir
Thank you, sir
Thank you, Mr. Sheer
Thanks for all you do for us
We thank you, Mr. Sheer

(The chorus was individualized for each teacher)

I watched the reaction from teachers and kids as we paraded through the St. Timothy’s halls – singing and laughing (17 times).  And for the first time, I felt like they were thinking “That’s a cool family,” not, “I feel sorry for them.”

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