I have exactly 61 Christmas cards to write. I addressed all the envelopes, stamped them, and put return address labels on last night. I love sending (and receiving) real mail and taking a huge stack of cards to the post office to be mailed is my idea of fun. I wish I could send all my blog peeps holidays cards. I love taking a minute to think of the person and how we're connected - friend from Japan, cousin who taught me to play chess 100 years ago, friend from high school - and then writing a brief personal note on each card. I really enjoy the ritual every year.
This morning I went and mailed all but one of my holiday boxes to Japan. The subtotal this year (for postage only) was $169. I say this every year, but honestly, next year it's cards with a candy bar shoved in the envelope. It's crazy to spend so much money and it's even crazier with their culture of reciprocity. You will never out-give a Japanese person. I just love finding little treats and goodies throughout the year and then wrapping them up to send for Christmas. I picture the little kids freaking out with excitment when they receive the box with English writing on it. I miss those little cupcakes.
The other day I mentioned seeing Meaghan Smith live. I'm still listening to the few songs she has on iTunes over and over, and maybe my favorite is called, "Five More Minutes." It's about that time when you're little and playing with friends in your backyard in the evening and it's summer, so it's light out late, but you parents call you in to get ready for bed. She sings it in a slow, rich, dreamy voice that is almost too good to be true. You can smell a summer night when you listen to it.
This is my last official day of my two-week vacation. I'm glad to have the weekend left, too. I've never stayed home for a vacation, and as much as I've missed traipsing around a new country, I have to admit it's been great - I feel chilled out to the extreme. Today I filled up the washer fluid in my car and marveled at how good it feels to have free time to do those kinds of things. It's so hard to find the time and energy to do stuff when you work 10+ hours a day and your job is a total bitch. I have no idea how folks work exercise into the picture when they work full time. But I've been incredibly productive these past weeks and have had plenty of time left over for movies, sleeping, dinner out, catching up with sister, shopping, wrapping, and more. I'm really grateful for the break. I needed it.