Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December 2009

Hi Poppets! Happy holidays to you and yours! Once again, as with last year, it’s a tough time for the country, for the economy, for many, many families – mine included, if truth be told. Several of us are having a hard time providing for our own children and partners and parents, let alone anyone else. Yet this time of year is the time most of us think about giving, as well. It’s an ugly Catch 22: we want to give to those in need but we are in need ourselves but we want to give but we can’t give…you get the idea. Maybe you even live the idea. So what to do? I can’t answer that question for you. I can, however (because it’s my column after all), give you a suggestion. This year, it’s all about critical mass.

Instead of traditional gifts, go old school. Find recipes and do some baking. Cookies, fudge, candies…there are so many surprisingly easy recipes out there and available. One of my favorites is actually my mother’s spiced tea recipe, which doesn’t require any more skill than being able to mix powders. Hello! It doesn’t get any easier than that.

Still too expensive? Find three other friends in the same boat. Sadly, I bet that won’t be too hard for most of us. Each of you buy the ingredients for one or two goodies, get together and bake. Hell, somebody splurge for a cheap wine and make a night of it. Once everything has cooled or set, swap out. A dozen chocolate chip cookies is only so interesting. A paper plate or Tupperware of four different sweets will make anyone happy. And your gift recipients never need know you didn’t bake them all!

Great ideas, assuming you have the time or the inclination to bake. Since not everyone goes all Martha Stewart-y this time of year, I do understand these are not good ideas for some. But would I leave you hanging? Of course not. You’re still broke. You still want to give. You still don’t bake. Fine.

Find those three other friends who are in the same situation and figure out how much you each can afford. Five dollars? Ten? No problem. Pool it and choose a charity. Personally, I suggest you give them the cash. They will be able to make your dollars go much further than you can. And remember, you’re not just giving them your five dollars. You’re giving them your group’s twenty dollars. I used to work human services; trust me. Twenty dollars is great. Twenty dollars is a Christmas dinner or a tank of gas or a night in a shelter in the right hands. See? It’s all about critical mass.

Even this year, we can take care of each other. And isn’t that really what this time of year is all about, in the long run? Have a happy holiday, whatever you celebrate. Take care of each other – and accept this as my holiday gift to you (be smart though – if you’re allergic to anything in it, please don’t make it, deal? Deal.)

Susan's Spiced Tea

2 cups Tang
2 scoops instant lemonade (if anybody can still find Wyler's, it's especially good)
1 cup instant, unsweetened tea (caffeinated or decaf, optional)

1 teaspoon ground clove
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Add three heaping teaspoons to a mug. Fill mug with boiling water and stir.

Enjoy and until next month, Poppets, take care of you.

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