There is something extremely dreary about coming home from Christmas, something which is made a thousand times worse by coming home to a cold, empty house, knowing your friends and roommates are still away with their families, eating delicious home-cooked meals, whereas you have no food in the house and have to get up and go to work tomorrow. The sad reality of it all came crashing down a few minutes ago, when I picked up my take-out order of palak paneer from down the street. “Just get back in town?” Either he could read the post-vacation dejection on my face, or I need to lay off the palak paneer, as my six-day absence was noteworthy. Neither scenario is particularly good.
The only positive note in my return was checking the mail. Mail makes everything better! Well, not when it’s credit card offers, bills, and coupons for Ace Hardware, but today I am the happy recipient of not one but TWO real pieces of snail mail from Texas. First, a Christmas card for our house from a friend who recently moved to Dallas, and second, a letter from Houston. This letter is nothing special–just a few lines about an Ina Garten recipe and a champagne fountain–but it’s enough that my house doesn’t feel quite so empty on this sad, December night, alone with my styrofoam box of takeout.
I have gotten many such letters from Houston over the past several months, thanks to a blog called Forever Young Adult. One of the writers decided it would be a good idea to match up eager readers like myself with penpals, under the assumption that everyone likes mail. It was a really good idea. Penpal, seen here doing her best impression of Drunk Sober Kitchen, mails me stuff all the time! Not only do I regularly receive letters, but sometimes, I even get presents in the mail! And sometimes, she gets her minions in DC to creepily leave things on my doorstep that can’t be easily mailed, like a bottle of champagne. Or this:
Yes, I came home from a particularly heinous day at work (post-thanksgiving sadness) to find a giant, homemade advent calendar sitting on my front porch. Each of the 24 little baby socks had a note and a thoughtful gift, including but not limited to: a toy dinosaur, a magnifying glass, fifty cents in pennies, a set of belly-dancing zils, a pez dispenser, a dreidel, three mini-bottles of liquor, and some tiny Ewok figurines which I plan to eventually turn into earrings.
You might think that would be enough effort for one Christmas for a person she’s only communicated with in writing and met once. Au contraire! Look what Santa brought me from Texas:
For those of you that don’t know me: that is a giant painting of my face. I had my suspicions when she started making shady requests like “Could you please send me a front-facing photo of your face with no teeth-showing.” But never did I imagine something on such a vibrant and enormous scale! I am struggling to figure out where to hang it so that won’t look totally narcissistic (my bedroom) or be completely mortifying (K’s suggestion to mount it in the front hallway, like Eva Longoria in Desperate Housewives). The best idea I’ve come up with so far is to start painting a bunch of other canvases so that it’s not the only thing hanging on my wall.
It is hard work keeping up with such creative genius.