Friday, December 26, 2008

Leftovers...and What To Do with That Gift Card

Like others, we decided to make it a low-key, home-made holiday. Family and friends for a small but delicious dinner, dessert consisting of a platter filled with cookies, brownies, and fudge. The sofa got a good workout as people relaxed and snoozed in the late afternoon. Still time to enjoy the full feeling, too soon to start thinking about the 2009 resolutions to cut back and eat healthier. Today - leftovers! I think a hot turkey sandwich the day after is as good as the original bird.

But what about the other leftovers? Those gifts that aren't quite right - including gift cards. Despite the warnings about companies going out of business, there are still plenty of gift cards being given and received. A teenager would love a Forever 21 card, but would her grandmother? Probably not. Or a man who yearns for the latest techno-gadget might not be completely thrilled with a gift card from Dick's Sporting Goods. What to do?

charge cardsGift Card Rescue! You can sell your card for cash or trade it for one you like better. Of course you don't get the full amount in exchange, but you do get a card you will actually use. Plus, if you want to buy a gift card, you can get one at a discounted price. Seems like a nice resource to know about for client and family gifts both. Many charities also accept gift cards, so you could think about trading the Starbucks card for a Target card, and donating that to a local domestic violence shelter or animal rescue center. I can make my own recipe Frappuccino and make a difference at the same time. That sounds like a good start for the new year, doesn't it?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The View From the Top

Top of the east coast, that is. Mt. Washington, NH, home of the world's worst weather. This volunteer supported and funded is home to an extraordinary group of people who just love vicious cold, high winds, and isolation. Every hour they go out to take measurements and readings, and to gather the data that often ends up on our local weather report. Most days I stop by the website to see what's happening atop the rockpile, and to get a view from the webcam. And yes, I do support them because I think it's important work, because they are not a government-funded organization, and also because I have a very warm spot in my heart for that part of the country. (On a clear summer's day we can see the top of that mountain from our little piece of New Hampshire heaven.)

Most days the observers post comments – their blog – and today Ryan has contributed his version of the 12 Days of Christmas. I eventually got through them all, but this photo held me breathless for quite a while. 130 miles visibility – wow! I'll bet even Santa takes time for a turn or two around the mountaintop just to enjoy this view.

Wishing everyone a peaceful, healthy, and happy holiday season.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Day After

When I was growing up, the excitement that built up before Christmas was an important part of the holiday fun. My brother and I spent hours imagining all the wonderful things Santa would bring us, and when my little sister came along, we played our parts in that happy fantasy. I helped bake cookies galore and my brother did his part to keep the tins from overflowing. Day by day the anticipation built until we were just about jumping out of our skins.

Then it was here!

And then it was over.

The day after Christmas was quiet and slow and gray, even if the sun was shining. There were still presents to enjoy and cookies to eat, but the anticipation was all used up, and we were down.

Over the past few days I've been there – anticipation used up, delight in the just-opened packages still as great as ever, but somehow just a little down. With Christmas still a week away, how could that be?

Ah, yes – it's the books! Last Friday we finally received the shipment of Margaret Rome's book – my company's first published title. Every time I see that cover I get a thrill. Sure, there is still much to do with sending copies to the Library of Congress and the Copyright Office, a contest to enter, and orders to fill. But all those hours of working to get it right, and then the weeks of worrying that it would actually be what we envisioned when it came from the printer – all that's done now. And yes, The Silloway Press has three more books for other people to get published in the next few months, but Real Estate the Rome Way is my first. You never forget the details, the emotional attachment of your first, do you?

As my friend Margaret says, "WIN?" What's important now? Time to do what always worked for the 10-year-old me on the day after Christmas: play with my favorite toy (a new 22" flat screen monitor – yay!), have a cookie, and start again.

Here's to a season and new year of great beginnings, happy anticipation, and successful conclusions for everyone.