Just after my fifth birthday, in December of 1986, I dictated a thank-you letter. It was not a letter to Santa, but I was concerned about a Santa-proxy situation, wherein Santa had left presents for me at the home of our friends. That year, my mother had also made the strategic error of neglecting to keep track of wrapping paper—that is, which wrapping paper she used for which presents.
I can’t imagine how my mother took this down with a straight face:
Dear Sam and Lisa,
Thank you for the crown and the penguin and thank you for the soap and the pinwheel and the owl thing that goes on your finger and the fish whistle. We’re thanking you for this ’cause we’re thanking Santa, too. Thank you for the scrapbook also and the Amahl book. Thank Santa for the presents at your house. I’m glad Santa brought those presents to your house. I don’t know how he knew we were coming.
I know those presents aren’t from you that were at your house, but I’m thanking you anyway, because Santa is not there. I knew he wouldn’t be there anyway. I am thanking him partly, too. I’d really love it if Santa was there, but he’s not there so I can’t thank him, so I’m thanking you. It really doesn’t matter if Santa’s not there because I could just thank you.
Next Christmas I’ll leave a note in my stocking thanking Santa to bring those presents to your house. I thought those presents were really nice, that it was nice for Santa Claus to bring them. I’d like to thank you for them anyway, even though they’re not from you. They’re from Santa Claus. I knew it already after you told me.
Santa gave me some ice skates. They were too small for me, so I think he got my size when I was younger. I’m thanking him for them anyway. This Christmas I happened to notice that he uses the same wrapping paper as we do. Not any other Christmas except this one, I noticed the wrapping paper that Santa Claus used.
Note to brainy parents everywhere: if your offspring (a) lectures you about deciduous trees on the way to preschool, and (b) responds to your psychologist-behavior-chart trick by drawing a similar chart to evaluate your behavior (yes, I did that), then the Santa-Claus myth won’t be safe for long.
This holiday season, if you’re beyond ice skates and fish whistles, here are some gift ideas for the stylish farm girl:
1. Orchard Jewelry by J. Mavec—our friend Janet’s distinctive and effortlessly wearable line of jewelry, inspired by plants and animals at her farm in Gladstone, New Jersey. I love my large green bean necklace (great for layering with other chains) and pear earrings (simple, with a soft glow). Also check out the acorn and bluebell bangles, medium peace dove necklace, and cicada wing earrings.
3. Aimee Raupp organic skincare—decadent, clean and nourishing. Aimee is a women’s health expert, acupuncturist, and herbalist. Try the lip balm, coconut sugar scrub, and body butter.
4. The essential cookbook library: Jamie Oliver’s Cook With Jamie; Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything; Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions; and Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins’ The New Basics, source of the divinely indulgent Apple of Her Eye Pie, with sharp cheddar baked into the crust.
5. The great horse books:
- Nonfiction: Seabiscuit, the beautifully written story of an unlikely hero
- Fiction: Lord of Misrule, winner of the National Book Award—edgy and thrilling, with fabulous horse-characters
- How-To: The de Némethy Method, the essential horsemanship bible for any English rider, by the man behind US Show Jumping’s brilliant dominance of the sport in the 1960’s and ’70’s
6. A luxurious alpaca wrap from Voz, handmade by Mapuche artisans in Chile:
7. Sam Edelman Petty boots, a walkable and tailored wardrobe staple, in go-with-everything putty suede, saddle leather, or black suede with a brown stacked heel:
Or a less toasty but more wallet-friendly option: Zara’s midweight parka with faux fur and detachable quilted lining:
9. Jerome Dreyfuss handbags: my ultimate French-luxury splurge. The Popoche Large holds cellphone, keys, iPad mini, and sunglasses, stashed inside a larger tote or on its own, as a clutch. Available here in Bordeaux calfskin, or call the New York boutique for their exclusive versions.
10. The iconic Dubarry Galway boots—waterproof all the way to the top, and built to last: