Wussification Gravitas

For Sugar Plum Fairies
For Sugar Plum Fairies

What do you give sugar plum fairies who have everything?  We have been rendered fragile, weakened and melting from the fierce events facing us.  Our leaders seem to be in denial compounding our sense of ennui and the apathy we feel.  We have been buried alive by economic uncertainty. We have become so weary of things that don’t work, of hard-earned money being squandered on aid to foreign countries who hate our guts while our own homeless starve and shiver.  A broken Congress, contemplates one dreadful idea after another.  We are the walking wounded in need of a respite, a place to recover from our daily battles, a hideaway from intrusion into our emails, phone calls, our bathrooms, bedrooms, cars, kitchens and gardens.  We sympathize with brave warriors returning from battle – never knowing what it must be like to suffer from post traumatic stress but sensing we’ve been struck by the enormity of a simple question.  Will it ever get better?  A very special shout out to Operation Gratitude which has sent out its one millionth package to our troops stationed overseas.  We are so proud of having taken part in their wonderful project.  Bravi. Thanks to the Van Nuys Armory too. We salute all our brave military who watch over us and protect us. We offer a few humble suggestions for holiday gift-giving, all American-made products which should lleviate the stress of the season and help boost our economy in the process.  For those of us who depend on Wikipedia, we would like to recommend making a donation.  Wikimedia is composed of an invisible army who provide us with unlimited information instantaneously.  How about a token of our gratitude?  Before making a donation to any charity, consult charitynavigator.org to check out its stats. You’d be surprised how much money is raised and how little is used for its purpose or goals.  Give to Wikimedia.

 As much as we all use and love the efficiency of Amazon.com, if you’re trying to track down an old title which might be out of print, try the biggest bookstore in the country -- Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon.  They hand out maps of the premises because it’s not difficult to get lost.  A friend and I once giggled our way to the women’s restroom – it was that far from our “you are here” marking.  Powell’s buys and sells new and used books of every type.  I bought several books in Italian, and a good Japanese dictionary at excellent prices.  Warning: it’s huge so wear your hiking boots.

 Apples of every sort can be found in the state of Washington – whether you favor Granny Smith, red delicious or Gala, they can be ordered and delivered quickly (and, don’t forget the apple butter and cider).  Harry & David in Medford Oregon carry apples and pears too.  Their comice pears are delicately sweet.

 Coffee cakes made by My Grandma’s Cake is Boston, Massachusetts always taste freshly  made and delicious.  They have an excellent assortment of flavors: apple-walnut, blueberry, cranberry, pumpkin spice, cinnamon-walnut and their full-throttle Ted Williams  all-star chocolate coffee cake.

 Our search for specifically American-made products, brought us to the land of the Pilgrims, to life in New England. Our favorite Cape Cod gift idea is a set of the famous traditional Bayberry tapers – the candles have a very delicate scent.  For the men on your list consider another traditional favorite – Nantucket Reds.  Every gent should own a pair for that special occasion.  Let’s not forget seafood.  It can be put on dry ice and shipped out quickly anywhere. Nobody does it better than the fishermen of Gloucester, Massachusetts. We like Legal Seafood.  L.L.Bean in Freeport, Maine is a perfect emporium for cozy, warm clothing, slippers, robes, sweaters, parkas and other gift ideas.  Their flannel plaid bathrobes are the best!

 OPI nail polish is headquartered in North Hollywood – about two miles from Studio City.  George Shaeffer, the genius behind the brand, and I were seatmates on a Southwest flight from Burbank to San Francisco a while back. We introduced ourselves and he told me his Russian mother’s name was Irene too.  We had a delightful hour of conversation.  On his laptop he was able to display accounts for his nail polish in more than 70 countries around the world, including China.  How did this small idea take off and become such a success?  George says he wanted to make a product which would give women a lift without costing a fortune.  And so OPI was born.  You can buy a holiday gift tower of luscious shades at very affordable prices.  Sure beats going to a psychiatrist!

 The southern states offer several great favorites.  Florida’s citrus fruits are excellent.   Salt water taffy too. New Orleans has incredible sweets made from pralines.  South Carolina and Georgia grow the best nuts and nut products in the country.  I especially like Young Plantations (S.C.) for the assortment they offer at reasonable prices. Their chocolate covered pecans make you want to sit down and eat the whole tin – sinfully delicious  South Carolina is home to Jackson and Perkins – their rose bushes are world famous and they’ve got huge supplies of holiday greenery, from wreaths to trees.

 The Kachina is a spirit being, made in the southwestern pueblos by native Americans.  There are more than 400 types of Kachina doll and they’re not just for children.  New Mexico offers a marvelous array of handmade items. The pottery and tiles are decorative and festive.  They are works of art that make you smile whenever you look at them.  Wind chimes and handmade moccasins as well as beaded jewelry make inexpensive gifts.

 With a nod to George Herbert Walker Bush we salute his funny sock collection.  You can gift anyone on your list with a pair of “Cat in the Hat” socks but there are dozens of other unique designs too.  Beautiful handmade quilts, made by women in quilting bees are available for purchase from sources in Amish country, by the Lakota Sioux, and groups in Iowa, Nebraska and Tennessee.  If you go online you can contact these quilting bees and get an idea of the product each individual group makes.

 Regional wines always make a perfect gift – Napa and Sonoma to New York State, you can find something for every palate.  Maple syrup and products made with it are always a hit.  My Uncle  Peter owned a small ice cream parlor in Brattleboro, Vermont.  I would give up several tomorrows to go back in time for a taste of his maple syrup ice cream. Black Diamond cheddar cheese is a tasty favorite.  Tillamook is the big cheese leader from Oregon and they have a type for every palate.   Crabs come from Chesapeake.  A special tip of the hat to a dear, old pal – Joseph R. L. Sterne, retired editor of the Baltimore Sun and an apology for saying that crabs come from Maryland (but they do).  If you’re into big beef, you’ll find the best in Kansas City.  There’s also a well-known source for beef called Omaha Steaks (maybe you’ve heard of them).

 Alaska has the awesome and much-loved Copper River salmon.  Many markets carry it but you can have it shipped directly to your door.

 The most treasured state of Hawaii has special offerings.  The can ship their beautiful leis –  round as well as broken (especially suited ceremonial ones for men) in a variety of flowers – orchid or plumeria, etc.  Hawaiian Host in Honolulu has lot of macadamia nut treats – you’ll want to order some for yourself as well as gift giving.  The best know shirts on the islands are made by Crazy Shirts.  I highly recommend this company and their top quality t-shirts, sweatshirts and shorts. They’re always fun to wear. 

 No Christmas season would be complete without fruitcake.  The monks at the Trappist Monastery in Carlton, Oregon have been making this iconic product for decades.  Last but not least, there is a tradition of placing oil lamps on window sills of homes in many of the early American colonies during the holiday season.  It’s such a pretty visual effect, even though the light comes from a tiny bulb, it lets Santa know you’re home.  You can find perfect oil lamp replicas, pewter candle sticks and all sorts of Americana gifts online from Williamsburg, Virginia. Yes, Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus.

 Special note for my dear cousin Guido in Sicily.  We think it’s time for you to buy a new Louisville Slugger.  You’ve done enough damage with your old one, why not replace it?  (He aims for the knees but tends to swing wide.)

 I have a list of recommended websites for all items mentioned here.  If you’d like to ask about any specific product, please post a comment.


This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Lucien Lacomb December 07, 2013 at 04:11 PM
What an amazing collection! Thank you for so many excellent suggestions. I have seen some of the funny socks and actually bought a few pair recently to send to friends. There are a few websites I would like to investigate. Can you tell me more about the Crazy Shirts? Thank you for another good job.
Irene DeBlasio December 07, 2013 at 04:30 PM
@LucienLacomb I love the Crazy Shirts Company. They started selling t-shirts in Honolulu in 1964 and have a huge franchise now with outlets on all the islands as well as one here in Laguna Beach. They have casual beachwear for men, women and children at good affordable prices. Among their specialties are dyed shirts -- Kona coffee, chocolate, wine, beer, rum, lavender, crater (straight from the volcano source) and money (yes, the aroma really works). You can sign up for Crazy Shirts Rewards -- free of charge. You accrue points according to dollar amounts you spend and eventually you can convert your points for a free shirt. Thanks for being a loyal reader. crazyshirts.com (go only to the official site)
Geraldo Cruz December 07, 2013 at 05:31 PM
Ms. D I was going to ask you for specific sites for the Williamsburg stuff but am finding myself so distracted by the picture you posted... Is that Aladdin's lamp? Flowers, pearls and a lamp? Forgive me for being confused. Dare I ask you to explain?
Irene DeBlasio December 07, 2013 at 08:22 PM
@GeraldoCruz The flowers are smiles and attaboys sent to us from nature. Pearls are wisdom - beauty that arrives out of pain. And yes, Aladdin's Lamp may grant us wishes we petition for. Wussification Gravitas means we are all powerless wimps. That's my message and I'm sticking to it. http://www.brassgallery.com/ This site will show you an array of the beautiful Colonial Williamsburg candle sticks, trivets, address signs and too many other beautiful items for me to mention. If this one doesn't work for you I can provide you with alternates. Thanks for noticing the picture. We're only permitted one for each blog post and it's difficult to choose something meaningful. Thanks for your terrific comments.
Lucien Lacomb December 08, 2013 at 12:50 AM
I ordered 3 t-shirts from Crazy Shirts in Hawaii. One is a pretty long-sleeved white pullover with a spray design called Annri for my sister. I also got one Kona coffee dyed and one chocolate for a couple of friends. Three gifts for about $100 is a good bargain. Thank you for recommending this company. I also signed up for the rewards program. Will you please tell me more about the cakes? I would like to order one apple and one blueberry.
Irene DeBlasio December 08, 2013 at 11:41 AM
@LucienLacomb My Grandma's Cake of New England can send out fresh, delicious coffee cakes by Fed Ex. They're usually $21.95 each on the flavors mentioned in my copy above. They can also ship out to our military at APO addresses. They really are super fresh and tasty. I'm happy to hear about your purchases so far. By the way, if you'd rather call any of the merchants I've listed, you'll find a toll-free number listed in the website. http://www.mygrandma.com/
William Bauer December 08, 2013 at 01:45 PM
Hi there, I don't buy much for Christmas anymore as my family is too far away and I'm not traveling anywhere for Christmas. I do purchase from the local merchants, which is important in a rural town like Wellsboro, Pa. We have a group here called "Goodies for our Troops' that sends all sorts of things overseas for our troops and has been for the last 7 years. It's all volunteer work undertaken by senior citizens, school children, and people on work release from our county prison, aka "The Blue Roof Inn". Yesterday we celebrated "Dickens Day" which is held on the first Saturday in December. There are all kinds of volunteer groups selling goodies for charities such as the Boy Scouts, the homeless, school projects and senior citizens. We also present "A Christmas Carol" in our 2 playhouses with all volunteer actors. The proceeds go to our 4 childrens' choirs, and they tour during the year in all our counties and they also have toured in Europe. We do have a lot of issues in Washington and folks trying to be politically correct, but I'm fortunate enough to live in a community like Wellsboro, where neighbors are still neighbors. If you ever watch "It's a Wonderful Life", that describes our town. We even did a performance of it last year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all g the yea
Irene DeBlasio December 08, 2013 at 02:39 PM
@WilliamBauer Tight-knit, caring communities can do a lot more charitable work than government. It's heartwarming to hear about life in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. You're living in a good place. In Los Angeles we have about 58,000 homeless and our food bank can't keep up with families with children. It's a tragic situation, especially when we hear about Pakistan getting 5 billion dollars. Blessings and Hugs to you, dear friend. Thanks so much for the comment.
Autumn December 08, 2013 at 02:44 PM
Funny we discussed by American at dinner the other night. From my past experience in high end sales I found the following: Those who were born here and 2nd generation Americans who helped build cities such as L.A. have that pride. Immigrants, Refugees whatever you want to call them don't get quality - just about how much. They lack pride and manners BUT are full of entitlement.
Irene DeBlasio December 08, 2013 at 05:16 PM
@Sharon They say a patriot is one who defends his country against its government. Those of us who were born here and had parents born here realize that true freedom is the opportunity given us in this country to become self-reliant. That's all part of the American Dream. The only way for us to hold on to the dream is to support our own commerce -- not to buy goods because they're cheap. Thanks for reading my post and taking the time to make a comment. I appreciate it.
Autumn December 08, 2013 at 05:39 PM
Your post was beautiful. My Great Great Grandparents escaped Bolshevik Revolution, my Grandparents and Mom escaped Communism and Nazism then came here so we could have oppurtunity - to see it slowly disappear is very sad. Please keep writing
Geraldo Cruz December 08, 2013 at 07:53 PM
I have no affiliation with this company but have used them in the past, their cakes are really good and they support the troops. Hope you don't mind if I add them here, Ms. D. http://www.bakemeawish.com/
Irene DeBlasio December 08, 2013 at 08:02 PM
@Sharon I'm flattered by your compliment. When you get a chance, please read some of my older posts, such as Thanksgiving Recollection and The Forgotten Children. Some of my friends criticize my posts because they disagree with what I have to say. I do believe in our Constitutional Republic but I have always believed that our elected representatives should be chosen on a lottery system so we can be assured of a citizen legislature. They should be permitted to serve one term only. There is too much money and power involved in the process now and we are helpless to be heard. We must always remember people come before policies -- not just in the dictionary. My blessings and thanks to you.
Fritzi December 08, 2013 at 09:02 PM
I failed to mention in my previous post that on top of not helping our military, we are not helping our homeless and poor here in our own country. We send billions to help other countries, but what about our own people. When will our millionaire congresspeople ever attempt to do something for them.
Irene DeBlasio December 08, 2013 at 11:29 PM
@Fritzi Many feel that entitlements are being given to people at or below the poverty level but I see people living in cars and vans and under bridges who have fallen through the cracks. They don't have access to food stamps, Medicaid or section 8 housing. The have no permanent address and are basically cut off from society. We are not doing enough outreach. It's sad that so many resources are being wasted on the wrong things and wrong programs. I wish there were somebody in our government who would listen to some of our ideas. We need to do whatever we can. I know of certain homeless who welcome food and clothing. They're grateful for anything you bring them. Thanks, Fritzi for being so responsive. I know you work with your church group, that you are a grief counselor. I also know you are an inspiration. Thank you for your comment. Blessings and Hugs
Autumn December 09, 2013 at 04:10 AM
This Country is one that enables our poor not helps. If Obama has his way Marxism isn't too far away.
Irene DeBlasio December 09, 2013 at 11:46 AM
@Sharon Opportunity is the one and only equalizer we own. If you took away all the money from the rich and gave it to the poor it would be foolish, impractical and unfair. It would never make us equal. Too many people misinterpret the Constitution and try to force their ideas on society. We are the children of immigrants who came here for one reason -- it was (and is) the land of opportunity. The Founding Fathers fought for religious freedom. That is part of our DNA as a country. We must never underestimate the power of the ballot box. We do not have a democracy -- it is a Constitutional Republic. We elect people to represent us in Congress and as voters we have the ability to remove them. We must never give in or give up our rights as Americans to remind our government that they work for us -- not the other way around. We are guaranteed freedoms and they are always worth fighting for. I agree with you about helping the poor, we don't want to make them dependent on government. That would be denying them the opportunity to become self-sufficient and independent. It removes their incentive. I hope we can create an outreach to give them the tools and resources to learn, to grow and to make new pathways for themselves the way our immigrant ancestors and the Pilgrims did. Opportunity is offered to all of us. That is the true equalizer. Many thanks for revisiting my post. Keep on fighting the good fight.
Geraldo Cruz December 10, 2013 at 01:28 PM
Ms. D, I am curious... what is something you would want for Christmas?
Irene DeBlasio December 12, 2013 at 08:04 PM
@GeraldoCruz I never get tired of Crazy shirts -- the perfect clothing for Californians. I wouldn't mind a Grandma's blueberry coffee cake either. I sent in a donation to Wikipedia and hope we can all spare a few dollars just for them.
William Bauer December 12, 2013 at 09:33 PM
I sent a donation to Wikipedia and they sent back a most gracious thank you note.


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