My Christmas list
My mother began asking for my Christmas list as soon as I arrived at my parents’ house in Maine for Thanksgiving.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she said to me and my sisters, in a very solemn voice, “if I don’t get those Christmas lists.”
“Are you going shopping right now?” we asked, knowing full well she was not. “Do you need them this second?”
“I will be going shopping soon,” she said. “And if I don’t have your Christmas lists, I won’t know what to buy.”
My sisters departed without giving my mom their Christmas lists, which made me the target of my mom’s Christmas list mania. On Sunday, she poked her head into the living room when I was watching football, and said, “You can either give me your Christmas list before you leave, or think about what you want while you’re driving home, and e-mail me as soon as you get there.” I decided I didn’t want to hear another word about Christmas lists, and typed one up before I returned to Albany. Here’s what I put on it:
Snowshoes — If I’m going to go outside and exercise when it’s cold out, I’d rather cross-country ski. That said, I’ve become interested in learning to hike in the winter and go for longer walks in the woods, and getting a decent pair of snowshoes seems like a good first step.
“Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen — This is the It Book of 2010, right? I liked, but didn’t love, Franzen’s 2001 novel “The Corrections,” a smart, perceptive look at the challenges facing a Midwestern family at the turn of the millennium. Everything I’ve heard about “Freedom,” which has been hailed as a masterpiece and work of genius, makes it sound like it’s better than “The Corrections.” In any case, if it’s the It Book of 2010, I must read it.
“Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America” by Matt Taibbi — I really enjoy Taibbi’s political reporting in Rolling Stone. His writing is as ribald as it is sharp; he actually makes it fun to read about the recession and the housing bubble. (In his 2009 article “The Great Bubble Machine,” Taibbi unforgettably described the investment bank Goldman Sachs as a “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”) Anyway, I’ve been reading Taibbi’s stuff for a while, and I’m interested to see how his book turned out.
“Fantasia” on DVD — The classic Disney animation anthology “Fantasia” is getting released on a swanky new DVD tomorrow, and I thought, “Boy, wouldn’t it be fun to own a copy of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” sequence? After all, I used to have a Sorcerer’s Apprentice poster hanging on my bedroom wall.” I don’t own many movies, but “Fantasia” is one of my favorites, a stunning, groundbreaking work that I would no doubt return to again and again.
Cocktail making supplies — On Saturday, my parents and I had dinner at my sister Lesley’s new apartment. She and her boyfriend, John, having been making cocktails lately, and they served us something called a Moscow Mule, which contains vodka, lime juice and ginger beer. I flipped through their cocktail book, and asked whether they could make me a Sidecar, which is something I’ve never had, but keep meaning to order, because I like the name. The sidecar recipe called for brandy, but John and Lesley only had blackberry brandy, and so they made me a Polish Sidecar, instead. Anyway, it was fun. This cocktail experience, combined with my trip to New York City a few weeks ago, where my friend Nachie served me a Bloody Mary for brunch that completely cleared out my sinuses and revitalized me for the rest of the day, made me think it would be fun to try out cocktail recipes at home every once in a while.
“You Are Not Alone” by Mavis Staples — On this 2010 CD, the legendary gospel/soul/R&B singer collaborates with one of my favorite musicians, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. How can a collaboration like that go wrong?
Socks — Because I need some.
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