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Giving and Receiving

I can still remember Christmas of 2006 which I'm sure surprises most Camera Crazy readers. 2006? Really Gail? With your memory?

 I've long thought that there is an art to both giving and receiving gifts. The art of giving takes time, which some people obviously have more of than others. The art of receiving takes genuine appreciation for the thought that went into a gift. When I opened my Panasonic Lumix DMC FX3 on Christmas 2006, my first words were, "Honey--this cost more than $50!" Not, how sweet and thoughtful of you Bruce; a much more appropriate reaction. He thought and thought about what kind of gift he could give me that would take my mind off my illness. Never, could either of us have imagined it would change my life. Make that our lives!

Because I have more spare time than most, I spent much time this year thinking of gifts that I hoped would delight the recipients. My shopping began in July and continued up until a few days before Christmas. For the most part, I think I succeeded, or at least I hope so. Jonathan was super surprised when he opened a Coach box that held anything but a Coach product.
Jonathan loves the movies, or films as the hipsters say. He and Alissa especially love seeing them at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Pondering what would be a good gift, it occurred to me that, although I'm not much of a gift card person, it could be a much appreciated present. I dare say the gift was a hit.

Pictured below is a little collage of gifts, mostly for me, one for Bruce.
Jonathan could not wait until my birthday, insisting I open his gift early, as in a six days early! You guessed it--the lens travel mug. Incredible likeness! He told me when he found it he was freaking out with happiness.

 On the bottom left are gifts from Matt and Tom. Liberty fabric baby! Matt knew that I regretted only spending a few minutes in Liberty during our visit so he sent a little piece, or make that pieces home instead. Street Art book and the short stories by Carol Shields will be getting a workout soon. I've read one of her novels in the past and can't wait to dig into this collection from Tom. Thoughtful gifts both. The chocolates Tom sent from Harvey Nichols are absolutely gorgeous in person, scrumptious in taste, and not easily photographed, although I'll keep trying because I know someone in the audience would love seeing them. Tasting might be more welcome but I'm not sharing.

The top right photo is a gift for Mr. Bruce from me. He loves small, personal things and this definitely fits the bill. His own little handmade chips and salsa dish. Anne Marie, one of the ladies I see each year at the Darden Art Fair makes them.

The bottom right is a gorgeous cast iron grill pan from Mr. Bill. Rarely have I received a "gift" from Bill. He's a gift card kind of guy, passing them out like candy on Christmas day. For years I've been encouraging him to give Christmas gifts more thought and he responds that people love gift cards. And they do. But part of the excitement for me is hoping that I've made a thoughtful choice. Something that a person might hang onto for years, thinking fondly of me when they use it. I know I'll be doing just that for many, many years while using this beautiful pan.

Monday evening, while Jonathan and Alissa were visiting Harry Potter at Universal Studios, Bruce and I went to Steve and Kirsten's after Christmas party. It's a terrific party every year and how brilliant of them to think of holding a gathering the day after Christmas. There's so much competition for guest beforehand, after, not so much. As such, there's a big crowd relaxing and enjoying the fantastic food. Oh my, are they quite the hosts! Actually, they share the hosting duties with Kirsten's sister Bea, moving the party between houses each year. Bea lives just down Delaney Avenue which made it all the better for us.
I loved these green bottles on the windowsill. Although much of the house is renovated they have not removed all the charm of a small bungalow.
All the doors and windows were wide open allowing for movement of both air and bodies.
The weather couldn't have been better actually, cool enough for sleeves but not so much that the house couldn't be kept open.

Baxter was happy to see us upon our return, even happier to get into his little chair/bed with the new hedgehog gift from J & A.
Bruce took off for Maryland yesterday morning for just two days; hopefully, if all goes well today he'll come home later tonight. I decided to head downtown for a little photowalk while the young folks were sleeping off their long day at Universal.

I read in our paper the other day that Orlando is the number ONE tourist destination this holiday season. Mostly those folks spend time at the theme parks or shopping. Apparently our outlet malls are nearly as popular! At any rate, what they see is not really the Orlando I know.
This is the Orlando I know, full of contradictions. While people the world over visit the aforementioned places, residents are out enjoying Lake Eola, sharing the park with homeless folks, of which, sadly there are plenty this time of year. Coming down from the North to escape the winter I guess they qualify as tourists as well, just not the spending kind.

There were plenty of the spending kind at Florida Mall yesterday afternoon during our shopping expedition to H & M. Alissa needed her H&M fix. After loving that store in Chicago, it's one of the few things she misses now that they live in Austin. The crowds were so thick, and with the mix of people, I thought of walking down some of the streets in central London this summer.

Later on we met Ha for dinner at a new, or at least new to me, Italian restaurant in Winter Park, Armandos. The place was bustling with diners enjoying what turned out to be delicious food. All that was lacking was the service--crazy and unorganized to say the least.
The happy couple! Jonathan is sporting one of his Christmas gifts, while Alissa is wearing her new sweater from H&M in the Texas Longhorn color.

Which brings me to the end of this post, or at least almost the end. Just like the cinema gift card, when I thought of a MINI t-shirt for Jonathan I was happy. Seriously couldn't wait for him to open it.

Perhaps you gave or received a life changing gift this Christmas? Or maybe not. Or maybe, you just don't know it yet......

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