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Green Acre #456: From Bush to Tree

The Cavanaugh Hanukkah bush that morphs magically every year into a Christmas tree. / Photo by Stephanie Cavanaugh.

By Stephanie Cavanaugh

MY PRINCE has always been a pain in the butt to buy gifts for. His closet is stuffed with handsome clothes. He has no hobbies or collections. Splashes his face with alcohol. Reads the newspaper but has no patience for books. Hates computers and anything techie. He doesn’t cook—though he does a bang-up job of washing dishes. 

What do you get a guy like that?

A couple of decades ago, I said, Let’s each write a list of 100 things we’d like to have. I figures this was a way to solve the problem forever. Just fill in the blanks. 

I merrily scribbled mine, including a Cuisinart food processor, a KitchenAid mixer with pasta attachments, Crayola-colored tights (for a flash of color under my black skirts, black pants), Shalimar (for a sniff of my mom), and a private island in the Caribbean. I was stretching a little at the end. 

What did he include? My own comb.

And that was all he wrote. I swear, you can ask Baby. (I think that was the year she bought him a compass that was made somewhere in Asia; the instructions said something like, If the direction seems wrong, shake it and try again. It was the Magic 8 Ball of compasses.) 

I never thought I’d see the day when I didn’t want stuff, when my little eyes didn’t light up at ribboned boxes, treats. Cuffs that sparkle, cashmere anything, fancy kitchen gear. All of those older friends who insisted we not give them anything but food or wine. I just could not imagine, and felt so cheap for, showing up to some holiday or event empty-handed—and they actually seemed grateful to get nothing!

Now I completely understand why. We don’t need a damn thing, particularly this year, with the passing of older sister Jeanie and adding half the contents of her condo to the already near overwhelming contents of this house. 

When my mom died, many years ago now, her things were divided between the three of us sisters. Now they’ve been divided again between the two leftovers. Add to that haul Jeanie’s collections, and all those gifts from me to her that I would have given to myself. (Which is the way I give things: If you don’t like it, I’ll keep it.) 

So, this year the Prince and I are getting each other nothing for Christmas. We did the same for Hanukkah. We’ve also canceled birthday gifts and will just go out for a grand dinner on our anniversary.

No gifts! What a relief. Well, except for a new pair of secateurs. He owes me snippers that are all mine (mine mine) not to be touched by Princely fingers. Kept sharp and shiny—right where I last put them. Used for nothing but snipping my plants. 

This does not let Baby off the hook. She has a fine knack for ferreting out little luxuries that still give me a thrill, like the peacock-feather boa spotted in New Orleans, the Victorian-style black birdcage for the budgies, Bonnie and Cooper, and my prized MacKenzie-Childs kettle, all black-and-white checks and Alice in Wonderland charm. This year Baby, with a financial assist from the Prince, gave me a class in framing for my birthday, at which I utterly failed, though I now know how to order a mat and frame online. 

What more do I need? I have a house that I love, my garden, my books, and best of all my wonderful family and friends. 

And that, as they say, is a (feathery boa) wrap. 


2 thoughts on “Green Acre #456: From Bush to Tree

  1. Nancy G says:

    Great column. Happy holidays.

  2. patricia spirer says:

    Loved it, Stephanie. Merry Christmas,

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