Tuesday, January 10

Brilliant Gift Idea!

Well...I think Christmas is finally over. My family had their last event of the season on Sunday afternoon. Because some of our extended family is out of town for Christmas Day - we always have a later function to exchange gifts with the Elvas (Belva, Melva...you've met them...) and this year there was an extra special bonus! My brother-from-another-mother Bruce was in from Dallas!

Some people know him as Tyrone...but I will always know him as Bruce. Strangely, his biological mother (the only thing logical about her...) changed his name when he was young. Not right after he was born...but much later! Something about being ticked off at some man in her life. An odd and very selfish choice. So he has gone through life with multiple names. Tyrone Bruce is one of my favorite people. (I could also point out that I have an adult friend who some people know as Sheila and some people know as Diane...what is this? A faulty witness protection program??)

The gathering was great fun! Lots of excellent pizza...some sort of green salad (nope, I didn't eat that...) and several desserts.

One of the unique parts of the gift exchange is a tradition started 3 or 4 years ago - because buying gifts for ALL the Howell clan is a daunting task...someone came up with a good idea. I think it was me. Instead of buying stuff - we give each other books that we have read that we think that the receiver will enjoy. I am really looking forward to this year's selections.

I have never read the book that Belva found for me - Age of Innocence. But the setting is New York City and she swears that I will enjoy it.

Melva gave me a book that I heard about on NPR many moons ago (I often hear about a book/show/movie that I rapidly forget to track down...) and I am intrigued by the subject matter. Henrietta Lacks died in 1951 of cervical cancer. She was an African American woman. Cells that were harvested from her cervix had an unusual characteristic. Not only could they be kept alive, they also grew indefinitely. Those cells have been used in countless experiments and research since that time.

But the kicker is - the cells were taken without her knowledge or permission. And although her descendants could use some $ - and the institutions who commercialized the use of her cells made millions - none of that money ever went to her family. I am interested to read more about her story.

I shared a couple of books from my HUGE collection, including the biography of my friend Joe Campbell and one of his novels. And for fun, I gave Melva a big book of MAD Magazine excerpts. Because you gotta laugh! Check out your bookshelves and share something with a friend. That friend could even be me!

And I'll find something for you in exchange!

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