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Because it’s easier to start writing if you perceive some sort of structure already in place. I don’t have to write a whole blog post at one go. I just have to write down five things.

1. Quote:

It doesn’t make sense to call ourselves ugly, because we don’t really see ourselves. We don’t watch ourselves sleeping in bed, curled up and silent with chests rising and falling with our own rhythm. We don’t see ourselves reading a book, eyes fluttering and glowing. You don’t see yourself looking at someone with love and care inside your heart. There’s no mirror in your way when you’re laughing and smiling and happiness is leaking out of you. You would know exactly how bright and beautiful you are if you saw yourself in the moments where you are truly yourself.

I did try to find the attribution for this quote, but it remains elusive. I first found it on a blog called A CUP OF JO.

2. I held my last tutorials of the semester this morning. It’s strange knowing that after they left the room this morning, I would never see most of those students again. Next semester I’ll have another random 20 students out of 140, and next year they’ll be third-years and too old for tutorials led by doctoral candidates. I suspect this is a feeling I’ll have to get used to, as it will happen every semester for the rest of my life, more or less, but I don’t think I’ll ever get to the point where I don’t have at least a little pang at the end of every year.

Along with the pang, though, comes a glow of relief that I will at last have an entire month to work on my research without interruption. Yes, that is the reason I look forward to the end of the semester. It turns out that your priorities really change as you get older. Like how kids think getting socks for Christmas is totally lame (unless they have penguins on them), but wool socks now feature high in my consciousness, and I’m salivating for–of all things–ultralight organizer bags for travelling. I’m not sure what my kid self would think of this, but grown-up me wants them desperately.

3. Blogs I’ve been reading lately: Reading My Tea Leaves, A Cup of Jo.

4. As you in the USA march toward Thanksgiving, here in Scotland I’ve almost finished my Christmas presents. I prefer to have the package in the mail by December 1, just to make sure it arrives in good time. I desperately want to show you the presents I’ve made, but they must remain secret. As the holiday approaches, I may weaken and show you the Christmas cards. They’re so pretty! And such a process it was. It would have been faster, surely, and almost as cheap, just to buy cards. But they wouldn’t be half so pretty.

5. Speaking of which, I’ve been tasked with compiling lists of gift suggestions for NTS and myself. I’ve got some things on the list (organizers, w00t!), but I want to include some non-object items, as well. I would say, “don’t give me anything this year,” but frankly, I love both giving and receiving presents. And the people dedicated enough to send presents all the way to Scotland have very good taste. But I suspect experiences will fit into my flat better than most objects. Reading My Tea Leaves talks about this and other tips for minimalist gift-giving in a recent post. I rather like her want, need, read, do checklist.

Help a sister out. What are your favourite experiences (tickets, foods) to give to your loved ones at Christmas?