Aftermath of the Holidays Part II

There are other futures involved in my Christmas presents. A pair of sheepskin boots that I cannot yet pull on by myself. There is a very warm vest with, thank heaven, capacious pockets for my phone, house keys, doggie bag, hankies, eye glasses, bus tickets. The backpack makes it possible for me to do my shopping by myself, whether or not I am walking my dog. It is not easy to come to terms with the fact that I still need help for many things I could once do on my own.

Food is often the best kind of present. Unless those who are on the receiving end are trying to lose weight, or are abstemious.  It’s a gift where often most appreciated are the intentions. As far as I’m concerned, for instance, living alone, I don’t know what to do with a large jar of a bell pepper-based condiment. The contents of most jars, with the exception of quince jelly, which never lasts more than four or five days, will be blossoming after a week or so with an efflorescence of soft grey wooly mold.

Other gifts include a pot of honey. “Yes, Pooh Bear”, I think, “I would love to share it with you.” There is a glass jar of quince jelly with a checkered blue cloth cap on it. Kay and Csaba. A tree surrounded by grapevines and laden with an abundance of fuzzy golden fruit.  I wonder if quinces were not the mythical golden apples in the garden of the Hesperides.

The individually wrapped ruby-red quince paste delights disappear in a couple of days. They are from a woman, who, as a girl, took care of my children when they were small. Her past coincides with that of my children and with mine, the present sees her as a grandmother. 

That fragrant wheel of cheese is from Danilo, who stopped studying to become a shepherd and sell his cheeses at the market.  Danilo, now with his many children and multitude of sheep, living a life many of us might envy. The present and the future overlap with the past.

 When you have reached a certain age, people don’t really know what to give you. Just as you may be at a loss as to what to give them.  They may think of still another scarf, until they remember you have a drawer overflowing with paisley silks and long soft cashmeres in colors ranging from muted grey to a brilliant red or yellow. What better then than a bottle of prosecco, to be shared when fireworks ring in the New Year, the bubbles as evanescent as our memories.

Yet it is just those memories that are the most lasting gifts. Those of Christmases past, and the ones we are creating now, knowing they will be our future.

3 thoughts on “Aftermath of the Holidays Part II

  1. Erika, now that we are apart for a while, I especially love hearing your literal voice as you recite your latest post, and of course your poetic voice, which is ever present.

    As you know I, too, have a complex relationship with gifts. But the first scarf you gave me many moons ago—the red paisley—still accompanies me pretty much everywhere I go.

    Another gift: among many other things, you taught me about the sensuality of quince, which your gorgeous photo conveys perfectly. Grazie🍐


  2. Like Diane, I have vivid memories of your quince delights. I like the idea that they were the golden apples. I was deighted to receive photos of your holiday reunion at the villa. They also brought back lovely memories of sausages on the hearth and local nocino!


  3. I have only discovered this post from you this morning, Erika, having been away for over a week and not checking WordPress. It’s nice to catch up with your reflections on present-giving. How very difficult it is, we all find, to choose gifts for someone who has lived a long life! You describe the dilemmas well. By contrast how easy and rewarding to give presents to children – not teenagers, who live in their own impenetrable sub-culture – but proper regular children. And I think that as adults we long remember some of the most cherished presents of our own childhood; not always the expensive ones.


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