We just returned from yet another trip to Southern California. Brother, who lives out of the country, was home. He's here for a week so the entire family is taking advantage of his visit and had about 20 people over including all my brothers and sisters. It's wonderful coming from a family where we all like each other. Brother is the super uncle to all the kids and to many of the adults as well. He's traveled the world, in fact, in the past two weeks he had Thanksgiving in England, then his birthday in Austria, then went to a gathering at Westminster Abbey last week prior to flying home to Southern California. Sister-in-law made the comment that most people don't even have one adventure in their life like brother has had and he has them continuously.
Brother brought gifts. All the girls got jewelry and shawls. The shawls were handmade that he picked up while in Afganistan. The jewelry was a bit over the top. I'm still scratching my head as to what granddaughter needs with a string of pearls, but I know I'll look spiffy in mine while I'm cleaning out the chicken coop or something of that sort! Seriously, I'll figure out some time to wear them.
I gave people a list of gifts I'd like this year. A 100' hose, a hula hoe, candles, a good pencil sharpener that can be screwed into the wall, and other very practicle items. I got just about everything on my list and received some gift cards too.
What gifts did I give? All practical stuff to put them on the path of preparedness, even if they don't know that's what I had in mind.My niece got a first aid kit. I told her to keep it in her car. I gave one to son and to brother-in-law. Another niece got an exercise ball. Their entire family is very athletic but this one would rather do indoor activities, so the ball seemed to be the perfect choice. Grandsons all got sling shots. I think my daughter is going to kill me! Mom got a raised garden bed. Sister got a fruit tree. Other sister and brother-in-law were commenting on our sleeping bags and blanket liners when they were over at Thanksgiving. I ordered two of the sleeping bags and liners for them from the same place I got mine: Major Surplus and Supply in Gardenia. http://www.majorsurplus.com/Army-Digital-Fleece-Sleeping-Bag-P14011.aspx and http://www.majorsurplus.com/Mil-Spec-Oversized-Double-Layer-Sleeping-Bag-P14019C1957.aspx. The sleeping bag is rated to 10 degrees. Last winter when we traveled to Colorado and Oklahoma and didn't run the heat in the trailer we slept perfectly using both the fleece as a liner and then the sleeping bag. This was the most expensive of all the gifts I gave anyone, but these two are the most likely family members that I'm going to be able to convince that they need to prepare for when TSHTF.
This morning, sister, brother-in-law, and I were sitting around the breakfast table talking politics. Brother-in-law is totally fed up with San Diego. Sister said when she brought her son to Children's Hospital last week for some treatment that she was in the extreme minority. She spoke english. She said most of the signage was in Spanish and she didn't hear anyone speaking english, including staff. It was almost like she was in a foreign country. We were discussing how the state can get out of the financial trouble it is in. Of course, listening to the politicians it's all the fault of the government employees. We came to a different conclusion. If the state would stop providing benefits to illegal immigrants, and if they'd require receipts for food purchases on food stamps and outlaw purchases of soda, chips, cookies, etc. the state would be in much better shape. They are getting very fed up with their living situation. Good.
I still have gifts to make and give. Towels, hats, gloves, and other useful items. One friend wants me to teach her how to make bread. Great gift. Another wants some of my soup recipes. I'm going to make some recipe cards for her. 4X6 index cards are inexpensive and make great gifts when you write down recipes and include little stories about how the recipe came into the family. Granddaughter added more to her list today. She requested buckets, a mop, and dust rags. Much more practical than her pearls.