{Holiday Survival}

At the end of every family recipe I write down, you will find the same two ingredients. They are there as an homage to my mother, who refuses to find a way to cook without them. The ingredients are Wine & Chocolate.

Rarely are they added to her recipes – chicken and dumplings doesn’t receive chocolate well, even in its most bitter of forms. Rather, they’re there for the cook, to help get you through the Cooking For 50 of Your Closest Relatives process. The last direction of each recipe is always, “Wine & Chocolate to ensure cook rises fully to occasion. Add to taste.”

All of this goes to say – life is stressful and The Holidays can be especially awful. It doesn’t matter what you celebrate, celebrating in and of itself can be daunting. For brides-to-be especially, we find ourselves navigating the odd, gray-area of two families that somehow need to fuse into one manageable group of people. Being engaged offers a lot of wonderful-feeling-things. More snuggling. Lots of little forehead kisses. Inside Jokes. Presents. Re-Disovering Date Night. Finding the load of responsibilities by means of Holiday Shopping and Christmas Card Sending and playing Who’s Eating What Meal With Whose Family?… don’t make the list of Things I’m Asking Santa To Bring Me This Year.

Why not? Well. I’m planning a wedding. I’m busy worrying about where I’m going to seat 100 or so guests at the reception. I’m busying trying to find new and creative ways to make teapots defy gravity. I’m busying ushering The Groom into suit shops, praying to Sweet Baby Jesus that he’s wearing the right socks, undershirt and boxer-briefs to get accurate measurements taken.

What we’re getting everyone for Christmas? Hasn’t even blipped my radar.

If you just fell off your chair in shock {because normally my Christmas Shopping is complete by September, or because you, too, just realized that Christmas is only two weeks away and that you have not yet even begun to shop}… read on. The rest of this post is definitely for you.

Books.

Huh? I’ll say it again. Books.

Books make amazing, awesome, personal and meaningful presents. They take people on adventures, and open up for them new worlds. They provide information and insight, wisdom, humor, comfort, relaxation… They give it all. Here’s the kicker. Everyone like’s something, and there are books about everything. So no matter if your father is like mine {a fisherman} or like The Groom’s {into interior decorating}, there’s a book out there for him!

More specifically, I like {this book guide} posted by my dear friend Amy Cao. I like it not because Amy is both dear and darling, but because the books are great all on their own – and because their appeal is fairly broad while still being relevant to the hardest demographic of people to buy for. Namely, that demographic is: My Friends, the young and educated creative professionals who enjoy literary perspectives that are tongue-in-cheek, informative, intelligent, humorous and aesthetically pleasing. It’s a lot to ask of a mere book, and Amy’s list is a phenomenal summation of works that accomplish just this task.

Of course this doesn’t discount a lot of other great titles. Right now I’m currently reading {Where a Dobdob meets a Dikdik} in paperback and {Your So-Called Life: Boys, Body Issues and Other Big-Girl Drama You Thought You Would Have Figured Out By Now} on my kindle, and recommend both for any young and intelligent female who gets a good chuckle out of strong wordsmithing and the ridiculousness of being 20-something and pretending to Have It All Figured Out.

And don’t forget the beauty of Audio Books – for the commuter who has an Auxiliary port in their car and a long drive to and from work each day. The iPod Shuffle is only $50 and comes in a smattering of Fun To Play With colors. That, partnered up with an iTunes gift credit {or, through iTunes, you can buy specific audio books as gifts} or a subscription to Audible.com {which comes with two free books if you use the promotion code: twit2, thanks to Leo LaPorte & This Week in Tech}.

At the end of the day, there’s a book out there for each and every hard-to-shop for person in your life, and there’s an ideal medium for each of them for a reasonable price.

What I wish for you now is a peaceful Holiday season, full of laughter and love and health. And wine. And hugs. And books.

xo -MM.

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