I got to spend some time recently with one of my oldest friends: a zany red-head who I met at Girl Scout camp when we were eight years old, and who has remained a close friend of mine ever since.
One of the first things she said to me when we sat down at an Ethiopian restaurant for dinner was, “so, Eva, somebody told me you have a blog? I never knew that.”
“Yeah. I actually just posted my two hundred and fiftieth post.”
“What? Oh my gosh!”
I felt bad. Had I really failed to mention my blog to her? It’s possible. She’s not on facebook or Twitter, and she rarely checks her email, so she’s missed out a whole lot of other things, too. She hadn’t seen pictures of my cross-country trip or my new apartment in Seattle. She didn’t know about the poems and stories I had gotten published. And I didn’t really know what was going on with her either.
“I’m gonna be honest,” she said, tossing a handful of red curls behind her shoulder. “I don’t actually know what a blog is.”
Once I explained the general idea she said, “oh. Do people actually read blogs?”
“I don’t know,” I admitted. “I mean, I think so. I have about fifty people who consistently read my blog. Of course, they’re mostly people I know.” (And, I recently realized, my boyfriend’s entire extended family. I went to his family’s holiday dinner the other day, and everyone already knew everything about me, which was slightly disconcerting, but it also saved a lot of time.)
But here I was eating Ethiopian lentil mush with a friend who doesn’t read blogs or look at facebook, and therefore knew little about my life these days. I would have to tell her everything the old-fashioned way.
When I sat down today to write about my visit with my red-haired friend (due to her fear and hatred of the Internet I won’t mention her name, although anyone who knows me can probably guess who she is), the first thing that came to mind was how we were both on the newspaper staff in middle school and were co-editors our eighth grade year.
We used to write most of our articles together. We would create fake advice columns or make up quizzes and horoscopes. Most of our articles were silly fluff, filled with jokes instead of actual news. Under our direction, the Woodrow Wilson School Newspaper was much more of a bad humor magazine than anything resembling journalism. In fact, I think she and I predicted the popularity of sites such as Huffington Post and Buzzfeed, as most of our articles were actually glorified, seasonally-themed lists, like “How to Survive the Holidays” and “ Six Things Your Should NOT Tell Your Honey This Valentine’s Day.” I have a lot of good memories of the two of us sitting at a classroom computer, cracking ourselves up as we wrote our articles.
And so, in honor of my dear, red-headed friend, and in memory of our pre-teen days on the school newspaper staff, I will create for you now a silly, seasonally-themed list. I wish she were here to help me. And since I know she will probably never read this on her own, I better give her a call and tell her that I wrote it. Facebook is a nice short-hand for keeping in touch, but I think the best of friends are still made and kept the old-fashioned way.
NOT-SO-GREAT GIFT IDEAS:
facial hair wax kit – Never mind that it was on clearance at Big Lots. Never mind that Aunt Trudy could truly use it. You’re just going to have to endure her scratchy kisses for another year.
WillMaker Plus Software – Helpful, sure, but it sort of sends the wrong message to those older relatives of yours.
mop (or broom or toilet bowl brush) – I knew someone (my brother) who gave a mop to someone (my mother) for Christmas. His defense was that “she needed it.” This present is only acceptable if it comes with a coupon saying you will be the one using it.
sex toys – Hey, I’m all for jingling those bells and stuffing that stockings, but your lover can’t really open a gift from Taboo Toys when she is sitting around the family Christmas tree. And what is she supposed to say when everyone asks, “so, what did your boyfriend get your for Christmas?” Awkward.
holiday-scented bath gels and lotions – I have a theory that no one ever actually uses these, and if they do… well, is it really a good idea to make yourself smell like spiced eggnog?
anything that looks like it was purchased at CVS – You know what I’m talking about: a Whitman’s sampler box of chocolates, hair dye, a bad DVD (probably starring the Olsen twins), a snowman coffee mug filled with those strawberry candies no one likes (except for my boyfriend). Maybe you meant well, but a CVS gift just screams “this was last minute and I grabbed it off the shelf while I was picking up my birth control prescription.”
Poo-pouri toilet spray — Yes, this is a real product and not something from a Saturday Night Live commercial. If you don’t believe me, click here.
cash – Ironic, isn’t it: the one gift everyone actually wants, and yet it’s the one gift you really shouldn’t give. Unless, of course, you want your loved ones to think you’re lazy and unoriginal. If you’re going to give money, at least write a check. Or put it in a homemade card.
At the end of the day, when it comes to gifts, it’s the thought that counts. Do your best, don’t stress, and remember that giving and receiving gifts is supposed to be fun. It’s not a contest or a chore; only a way to say that you care.
Happy Holidays, Internet! Love, Eva