We adopted our wonderful Homer almost exactly a year ago, as a Hanukkah present to ourselves. We (my two teens and I) had moved into an apartment that actually allowed dogs, so we had been mulling it over for a while. I looked and looked, but the shelter fees are so crazy high, and I couldn't find any good matches on Craigslist. Finally, I posted a "dog wanted" ad myself on Craigslist, specifying just a few criteria: not too small or too big, not too young or too old, and in good basic health. After winnowing out just a few responses, we arranged to go see "Winston" about an hour's drive away. He had been in his foster home for about 6 months after being rescued from a flood several states away, down south somewhere. He was described as a black lab mix, about 7 and a half years old. Well, we walked into the foster mother's house, and this enormous, grizzled, graying, old guy slowly and groaningly eased his way up from his pile of blankets and came towards us, all stiff-legged, tail wagging like a maniac. One look told me he was at least 10, and maybe older. I briefly thought about nixing the whole thing, but he was just the sweetest, gentlest, most loving fella we had ever seen. We took him for a trial walk--very, very slowly, at his pace--and decided he was ours. His foster mother gave us his papers and said a tearful goodbye. As we were walking out, she called out, "oh, his papers said his name is either Winston or Homer." We immediately decided that Homer suited him perfectly--not after Homer Simpson, but after the classical poet and bard. Our vet confirmed that he was probably 10 or 11 and, aside from pretty bad arthritis, advancing cataracts, failing hearing, and 20 pounds of overweight, he was in perfect health. He's turned out not to be the walking companion I was looking for, or a partner in games of catch and tug-of-war my kids were hoping for; we realized he is not a portable dog, but a desktop version. But we are simply crazy about our lovely old gentleman. Happy Hanukkah!
It is not expected--or "correct"--for an employee to give her boss a gift, even if your boss gives you one. Often, if she does give you one, the company has paid for it. Also, the assumption is that your boss makes more money than you. Also, I never have given my coworkers gifts, unless I also happened to be pretty close with them outside the office. Sure, bring in some treat you made, but I don't think you should feel any obligation at all to give gifts to anyone at work. (By the way, I have 35 years experience working in ALL kinds of work settings and industries, so I know whereof I speak.)
I completely and enthusiastically support the books-as-gifts idea, but be warned: there's a chance that your neice(s) will not share your taste. One my biggest disappointments as a mother is that my daughter, now 16, does not share my taste at all. No Little House, Little Women, Harriet the Spy, Betsy-Tacy, etc. Heartbreaking. But a valuable lesson for me in acceptance and letting go of expectations. Good luck, and happy holidays!
On Play "Spent"
Sure, I would have loved to donate $5 at the end, but I'm unemployed, uninsured, and have two teens who get free lunch but can't join and clubs or sports 'cause I can't afford it.
Said to an 11-year-old-or-so me, her lip curled in digusted contempt, "You know what? You're a jerk. And you'll always be a jerk." I forget what I'd done. I think I didn't do the dishes when she told me to. I still remember this vividly, and I'm now 51.
Then, older, I was 24 and had really, really bad flu and strep and lived alone. I was so sick and weak I couldn't get out of bed even to go to the bathroom. No food in the house, shit and piss in bed. Hesitantly called my mother to bring some groceries. She brought them during her lunch hour, but refused to come into my apartment in case she caught what I had. Then, later, during that sad, truly depressing period you have when you're pretty sick, and actually a little afraid you might actually die, and weepy and in despair, she said to me on the phone, "I don't think you're ever going to get better..."
You betcha! 9 years old.