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Must Haves for the Holidays

December 5, 2017

I hear we’re celebrating my birthday today. Really, I don’t turn over another year until tomorrow. But tomorrow I’ll be on a plane. Two planes actually. I wonder if Southwest Airlines give you a free drink or something on your birthday.

Part of me feels like by crossing time zones and zig zagging the country on my birthday, that I’m trying to run away from time and inevitability. But it’s just the function of the difficulty of airline travel these days. Especially when departing from a small airport like Albany International.

At least my birthday doesn’t fall on Chanukah, which begins the evening of December 12 this year. December birthdays can be a drag. Little Miss Fussy celebrates hers between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. That might be even worse. A birthday in the doldrums while most everyone is traveling or taking the week off.

One thing is clear though. The holidays are approaching. And yesterday I heard some grumblings about the outrageous prices resellers are asking for the hot, new, “must-have” gifts for the season.

So let’s talk about presents, because for the most part, we all have too much stuff. And I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I reveal that the answer is consumables and thoughts around food.

We are just coming off a bar mitzvah. The young man got a lot of presents. Most of them were in the form of cash, or checks, or gift cards. We green-lit the purchase of an iPod touch, because a small camera that could fit in his pocket so he could take pictures of assignments written on the board in school, would solve a lot of problems. Long story. But just trust me on this.

Perhaps, one of the best actual gifts was a couple decks of super-heavy ultra-premium playing cards. Those were loved, used, and appreciated right away. Although his socks were knocked off by some electronic musical gear that he could plug into the computer and expand his growing home music studio.

But toys and trinkets? They never last. Sure, they may be shiny. But excitement fades. Fast. This isn’t a modern phenomenon either. I remember getting the giant plastic Wayne Manor as a kid. I’m sure my eyes burst out of my sockets for a hot moment before I realized that it wasn’t quite as cool as it looked on TV.

The musts for the holidays aren’t things, but rather feelings.

Let’s start with love, hope, and joy. Let’s look for beauty in the everyday. Let’s try to be kind to one another. Whether that’s the person who is scraping to get by and selling a cheap toy for twice it’s retail price, or the parent who desperately wants to see their kids eyes pop open wide with disbelief (if only for a moment).

That said, I’m still pushing for consumables. Even for kids. And they don’t have to be sweets either. Nothing would make Little Miss Fussy happier than a basket full of dried sausages from Chester’s. It’s true. And one of the very special treats I share with my son is the occasional taste of a very special mosto cotto. I can’t even imagine his expression if he had a 100 ml bottle of his very own.

Of course, it’s easier to get food treats for adults. The trick is to find things with a reasonable shelf life. Yes, it’s fun to get a basket full of super ripe pears, but those need to be consumed in haste. And if people get a lot of different food gifts, it could become a challenge.

I love things in bottles and jars: olive oil, wine, vinegars, spirits, barrel aged maple syrup, hard ciders, and such can be very special. While I might never buy myself a chocolate bar that costs over $5 I know they exist. Small indulgences make for great gifts too. And I would much rather have a super fancy but small consumable, like a bar of chocolate or a satchel of salt, rather than a tie or a pair of socks.

Which is funny, because I actually enjoy ties and socks.

The other way to go when giving presents, is something that will actually be useful for years to come. Like the chinois Mrs. Fussy and I got on our wedding. It’s still in semi-active use today, whenever we need to strain our delicious dinners.

A good quality knife, a small All Clad stainless pan, or a solid mortar and pestle can last a lifetime. And for kids, it’s never too early to start. Cast iron cookware may be too heavy for small arms, but a small French black steel omelet pan? Ooh. I’ll have to check with Mrs. Fussy, but that may be an awesome gift for the boy.

Teaching kids how to cook and be self reliant is important. But more on that later. I’ve got to pack. And if I’m feeling brave, I may even hunt for a new pair of jeans before the flight.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Gretchen Platt permalink
    December 5, 2017 12:42 pm

    Perhaps a quick stop at Wolff’s Biergarten for your free Birthday Boot of beer. Cheers!

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