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Virtual Gifts

Updated: Dec 27, 2021

December 26, 2021

-- by Zacks

Christmas has always been an odd holiday for me as a Jew. There’s the seasonal hype, the gifting, the emptiness of a downtime that doesn’t often coincide with Chanukah, the mixed faith celebrations, and then, joining into others’ traditions. Living in hot climate now kills even the sweet anticipation of a snowy Christmas. Over the years as an adult, I’ve made a variety of attempts at creating my own quasi-tradition, but none stuck. In the 90s, it was dinner parties where I’d make some latkes, or it was just me cooking an elaborate holiday meal for one. One year I actually laid out a table of gifts and attempted to make sticky buns (the dough failed to rise) and opened gifts on Christmas morning. A couple of them were the same exact mini calendar book, probably on sale at Macy’s. Kind of a letdown! Back then, there were no cell phones for texting, no social media to post “Merry Christmas!” messages and share pictures. Many of my efforts just intensified the feeling of loneliness and the sense of not fitting in with what I imagined others might be doing.

This year, with no possibility to travel or join in any celebrations, I opted to pull out a project that has been stashed away in a box in my closet, so-it-seems, since February 2005 when I ripped out Kate D. Karam’s article “Tiny Terrariums” from Cottage Living, no doubt while reading this mag in a nail salon. “Don’t just sit there—plant something” was the lead in to detailed instructions about making terrariums using glass Christmas bulbs. I even bought the bulbs and they have moved with me, unused and shuffled around between different boxes and closets.

Not this time! By the end of the day on December 23rd, I'd ordered two more boxes of bulbs from Michael’s via Instacart – delivered the next morning by Tianna W. While I did give three of the terrariums as gifts in person, the rest are a part of an assemblage over my kitchen sink where pots and pans normally hang. Several of these are personalized, that is, created with a certain person in mind. This is a great tradition for someone like me who doesn’t bake cookies, hang lights, or put up a Christmas tree. I put the supplies away and cleaned off the work space for this year.

Join in with me some day virtually on this fun and guilt-free ornament project.

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