Snowflake Sweaters and A Conversation With My Son

Conversation with my son via phone today:

Me: Hey, I want to run something by you. I have some really neat things I’m considering buying you for Christmas, but I want to see what you think.

Son: (Laughs) Ooookay.

Me: So, you know how L.L. Bean is famous for their duck boots, well they finally seem to be caught up with their production and for once they are actually available during the wintertime! Usually they are out of stock and not available to ship until spring, but right now they actually have them in stock during the winter for once. They are really comfortable and very much in style! Would you like a pair?



Son: Thanks Mom, but I already have a really good pair of duck boots.

Me: Are you sure because these are normally really hard to find. It’s the first time I’ve seen them available this time of year!

Son: I’m sure. (Pauses, hear him getting something.) Yup, got mine right here. (He checks the brand.) They’re Sperry and they’ve been great, so I’m fine on duck boots.

Me: Oh. Yeah, that is a really good brand. Okay, well how about this! I found these really beautiful sweaters online. They are actual Irish-made sweaters, made of soft merino wool in Ireland! They have a snowflake design, nothing too feminine, just a single row of snowflakes across the front. They are really beautiful!



Son: Thanks, Mom…but I’m not going to wear a sweater with snowflakes on it. I know you and Dad like that kind of thing, but I’m just not there, yet. Maybe one day I’ll like it, but not right now.

Me: Okaaay, but remember how you used to hate the music we listened to on all those road trips to the beach when you were little, and now you love that music. Sooner or later we’re going to lure you over to the dark side with the clothing, too!

We both laughed.

Son: I know, I know. I’m sure I’ll like sweaters like that one day, but not yet.

Before we hung up, he suggested I make my gift the same thing I gave him last year, a gift certificate to Brooks Brothers, his favorite place to shop for dress shirts and suits. I reluctantly agree, thinking how impersonal gift certificates can be, but they are definitely practical and he’ll for sure get what he wants that way.

I do have a few things already purchased that I know he’ll love, one being a Georgia Bulldog shirt from Brooks Brothers that he dropped a hint about a few weeks back, but it looks like there’s not going to be any snowflake sweaters from Ireland under the tree for a few more years. lol

Anyone else have trouble shopping for their adult children? I used to think that it would ruin all the fun if you actually asked folks what they wanted for Christmas. Where’s the surprise in that?

Over the years I’ve come around to realizing that it’s a lot more fun to get something you actually want, than something you’re going to stick in the corner of the closet and probably end up donating one day. Being close to the pickiest person in the world regarding what I do and do not like, you’d think I would have figured that out long ago, but I was kinda slow coming around to it.


♫ You Can’t Always Get What You Want  ♪♫ 

Speaking of not always getting what you want (that song will be stuck in my head for the rest of the night!) every once in a while you do get a do-over. Something you wanted but hesitated and then missed out on, turns back up available for purchase the following year. Those do-over moments are pretty rare, though–at least from what I’ve seen.

Here are a few things I was hoping to find this year, but missed out on. Actually, one I did finally track down, but the other two are a no-go for this year.

Land’s End Chunky Cable Faux Fur Peruvian Hat

Truth be told, it rarely gets cold enough to wear a hat like this in Atlanta, but I was pretty sure I could conjure up a reason to wear it some this winter. I just love how it looks!

By the time I discovered it at Land’s End this year, it was already long gone, “Sold Out” as customer service representative told me after I called in case by some miracle they had one stuck back in a dark corner somewhere.

This photo…



…along with this one below are still on the Land’s End website, but they are apparently now being used to advertise the coats and the vests. Shouldn’t there be some unspoken retail rule that you can’t torture your customers by showing things on your site that are no longer available? 😉  Since it sold out so early, maybe they’ll bring it back next year. Do you hear me, Land’s End?



Bath and Body Works Pumpkin Woods Candle

I purchased several candles during a Bath and Body Works sale earlier in the fall season. Out of the ones I purchased, this one called Fresh Balsam was my favorite at first. If you don’t put up a live tree each year, get this candle and you’ll think there’s one right there in your living room!


As much as I loved Fresh Balsam, Pumpkin Woods is the one I’m completely obsessed over. Bath and Body Works had a sale for Black Friday, so I hopped onto their site thinking I’d buy a few more. Rats! They were all gone! I guess a few more folks liked them besides just me.

Fortunately, I was able to find some on eBay but didn’t get to take advantage of the sale at B & B W. I bought two on eBay, so at least I have a few to get me through the winter. The one I’ve been burning in my office this fall is about 3/4ths gone now. Update: If you would like to try this candle, you’ll find it here: Pumpkin Woods Candle.

Do you have a candle that you always try to keep on hand? I’ve discovered I don’t care for sweet or food scented candles, but I do love the woodsy type or the fire-burning-in-the-fireplace scented candles.

For summer, I like a light, fresh, clean-smelling scent. The year I added on the screened porch, I purchased one like that at Kohl’s. By the end of summer, it was almost gone and they were no longer available in the stores. Don’t remember the name of it now, but it smelled like a breezy day on a sun-filled porch. Funny, I still remember that candle eight years later! Left quite an impression, didn’t it?



Bow Box Sled Charm

My 3rd often-stalked-but-never-found wish list item is the Tiffany and Co. Bow Box Sled Charm that was available for purchase several years ago. I was late in life discovering Tiffany’s charm bracelets. I think I’ve always assumed their jewelry would be completely out of my budget, but surprisingly they carry a broad range of jewelry in various styles and metals, and many are very affordable.

For example, their Heart Tag Charm Bracelet is just $300, pretty reasonable for a Christmas gift for a loved one. If you want to surprise someone this Christmas with one of those iconic, blue Tiffany boxes but would like to stay under a certain price point, use the filters at the Tiffany and Co. website and focus on the “silver” jewelry pieces. They have a lot of beautiful sterling silver jewelry in the $250-$400 range, some even less.

So a few years ago when I discovered their silver charm bracelets, I purchased one for myself and have been gradually adding a charm each year. One charm that I’d really love to add, but it hasn’t been in production in several years, is the Bow Box Sled Charm.

Side note: Why it’s called that, I’m not sure. I think “Bow Box Sleigh Charm” would have been more appropriate. Doesn’t it look more like a sleigh than a sled?

Anyway, this charm was apparently in production several years ago, long before I ever purchased one of their charm bracelets. I’ve been hoping they would bring it back out of retirement– apparently, they do that sometimes, but alas, it has not happened.

A couple of years ago I came across the charm on eBay, but the seller wanted 3 x the amount for which it originally sold.  Still hoping one day it shows up on eBay for a more reasonable price, but not holding my breath. tiffany-co-bow-box-sled-charm


Was there anything you hesitated and missed out on this season? Any folks in your family for whom it’s a challenge to shop?

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  1. Nancy Griffiths says

    I can totally relate to the adult children’s gifts…I learned several years ago that it was best to ask what they want instead of trying to surprise them with gifts I love!! This year they are all getting money as their main gift…I still fill their stockings (and they are 37 and 35) but ask for a list of all their favorite toiletries to fill them up! Throw in some lottery scratch offs and a few candy items…everybody is happy and I don’t feel let down when they don’t seem get excited about a gift that I thought would send them over the moon!!! 🙂

    • So true, Nancy…better just to ask. I can usually do pretty well with my daughter in law, but my son is trickier. Next year, I’m just gonna ask! lol I like the idea of the stocking stuffers, too! I often buy little things, but I should actually put them into a stocking for them, I bet they would like that.

  2. So true! Hard to find the perfect gifts anymore! You are playing Donald Trumps theme song he always played at his rally’s !ha!

  3. Kathleen Mahoney Connally says

    My adult children keep an Amazon wish list and I order from that. If they are home for Christmas, I ask or take them shopping for their gifts. Not many big surprises, but they are happy with their gifts. (And that’s really what I want.) P.S. I do miss surprising them on Christmas morning.

  4. Our whole family does the Amazon wishlist. You can add items from Amazon and with the Add To Wish List Button, you can add stuff from other sites. Love that you can put who the item is for in the family and give specifics in the comment box. My brother tells funny stories about the items he wants. I go to his Wishlist just to read his comments. With mostly adults and several college kids in our family, everyone gets just what they want.

  5. “Nothing big mom. You know how small my house is. Don’t have room for stuff. Besides you like it big and frilly and English looking.”
    Well, he is in for a surprise. A miniature Erzegeberger ompapa orchestra from the former East Germany. No more than two inches tall, made of wood and so adorable I’m having second thoughts about gifting it. Nothing big…. I know he’s not reading your blog so I’m not giving the surprise away. Starbucks gift cards for the other picky one.
    New to your musings and so glad I stumbled in.

  6. My grown children and their spouse/significant other’s lists have almost devolved into a gift registry. They are all pretty tech savvy so their lists often include links to see the exact item or even to order it. The lists are emailed to all of the interested parties and if an item is selected we email the others to let them know what has been purchased so that duplicates don’t happen. Not usually a surprise but no one seems disappointed.

  7. Susan, King Arthur Flour Company has a “truck-with-a-tree-in-the-back” cookie cutter and I immediately thought of you and other “woody” fans when I saw it. I bought it and a doggy cutter and a polar bear cutter, plus a set of paste food coloring to send to my cousin’s sweet little granddaughter. She will be five in a few weeks and loves to bake and draw/color. I am “Santa” in our family and my Mother and brother get clothes, a few food items and hand/foot cream, etc in their stockings. My brother and I have our stockings from childhood and believe me they are vintage leaning toward antique!!! I, unfortunately, am not in the best of health so I really enjoy shopping and traveling vicariously with you. Keep on going as long as you are able to do so. I absolutely loved the photos of Court experiencing his first outdoor snow adventure last Winter!!! He is adorable and I perhaps see a career with the Weather Channel in that darling blue snowsuit. Wishing you and yours a safe holiday season and many memory-making moments. Ashley

  8. Always love your stories! Hopefully you’ll find that charm! I love it & would be haunted by it until I found I one! Our 2 adult daughters/spouses get checks now, along with one personal gift to open. However, this year they are getting a “together” gift! I found a Penn State subway art sign that I could personalize with their last name, as they are both PSU graduates. The other daughter/spouse, are getting a personalized sign for their home with their last name & wedding date in a deer/antler theme, as that is the woodsy look their prefer! Now that our children/cousins are grown, we do a Secret Santa. There are 10 of us, we fill out our wish, set a dollar limit, and pick names. It’s a fun thing & eliminates a lot of extra shopping! Then just for fun, we also do a gag gift exchange on Christmas Eve. We have a $5 limit and oh my goodness, is it ever hilarious! Amazing, the things we all find to exchange! I’m still wishing I would have gotten the “bacon wallet”a few years ago…. It was a wallet that looked like strips of bacon, you had to do a double take, it was so real looking! I so would have used it!!

  9. Regality (aka The Quing) says

    There is no way I’d ever be able to buy anything for some of my relatives without their Christmas lists. I know exactly what they need, but have no clue about what they want–entirely different realms.


    • Thanks for that link! I think I’ll buy a couple more to keep on hand. Yeah, I think she asking is definitely the best way to go. Will save me a lot of time, too. lol

  10. Bunny Rogers says

    We have 4 kids. Son is 35 and lives in Kazakhstan but comes home every 6 months for 10 days. He travels around the world with one half empty duffle bag. (He wears his Dad’s clothes when here!) All he wants is a container of protein powder which costs @$25 every time he comes home. I make a nice contribution to the 529 account I set up for his young son.

    Daughter is 33 and lives in efficiency apt with her SO 350 miles away. They have zero room for anything other than essentials and neither one cooks.
    Two 14 year old daughters still at home. We buy them what they need and sometimes what they want but they aren’t into purses, fashion, etc so their list is very limited.
    All 4 are more into experiences than possessions so we usually try for some wonderful performance activity as a family. We have gone to ballet, opera, stage play, orchestra, sporting event, etc and a very nice meal afterward. Being together is a big gift for all of us. Up until recently we had the grown kids on our AAA and phone plans. That was their Christmas gift.

    And we are divesting ourselves of about half our possessions in order to tremendously downsize in a few months. We are going from 6000 sq ft to less than 3000 sq ft which is still a lot of room. I can’t think of one thing I need except new mascara and a nap!

  11. Susan, I’m glad I’m not alone in the problem of Christmas for adult children. Mine cooperated for a while and did the Amazon wishlist and that was wonderful. Everyone got what they wanted and I didn’t agonize over purchases. However, now they have decided that they “don’t need ANYTHING!” I can’t imagine them not having something to open on Christmas so I will be getting stocking stuffers and probably a check/gift card. The best part of Christmas is having them both home, which is a rare occasion these days.

    I am thankful, for your blog. I’ve been reading for years and don’t take the time to comment as often as I should, but know that I enjoy every post!

  12. I am also a mother who can relate to the difficulty of buying for adult children, I can not imagine anyone in our family wearing a snowflake sweater, ever! We are not brand shoppers and droppers, we buy what we like and what we have found to work for us. Being the mother of adult daughters what I really find difficult is buying for my sons in law. YIKES!
    Years ago we decided money is a very practical solution to giving them things they put on the closet shelf and never use. So money it is, I also do stocking presents for everyone ( priced from $5 to $20) and they love that most of all. After we open gifts, we take a break for dessert and once dessert is over they tear into the stocking gifts and have a loud, rowdy blast opening those.
    Blessings to you and your family for a wonderful “Christ”mas season!

  13. Funny reading this about you and your son’s recent conversation. I had a similar in person one with my son this weekend as they were here for Thanksgiving. I had ordered a pair of plaid sleep pants for myself out of a catalog but apparently they sent me the men’s size as they literally fell off me. I asked him if he’d like them as my DIL said he does like to hang out around the house in them in the winter but when I showed them to him he say “no way”. They look very masculine (blue and green plaid) so I guess they’ll go in the donate pile. (They won’t fit my husband and I always get him a new pair of sleep pants every Christmas anyway). So I give him a Starbucks gift card for his “stocking” and a new bottle of Obsession after shave and cologne. It’s so hard to buy for my grown children. They buy whatever they want for themselves during the year and I’m reduced to just giving them something small….I really miss being able to surprise them like when they were little.

    I love it when you do a post on your favorite things and/or gift lists. It gives me some great ideas!

  14. They had pumpkin-EVERYTHING at Bath & Body Works this fall. And the only one that I liked at all was Pumpkin Woods. I love scents anything rustic. My daughter took a whiff of it and said, “it smells like men’s cologne. Of course you like it.” I could not smell cologne in that candle, but yes I love the smell of men’s cologne very much. Do you think it smells like men’s cologne?

    • I guess it does a little. A lot of men’s colognes have woody/smoky notes, so I bet that’s why it reminded her of that.
      Another candle scent that I love from Bath and Body Works is called, Bow Ties & Bourbon. I think it was created especially to appeal to men. I smelled it while I was visiting my son and dil and loved it. When I asked my dil about it, she said it was the only candle my son has ever commented on…and she burns a lot of candles so that’s saying something. lol It’s another one that’s hard to find now…last time I bought it, I had to buy it on eBay. I’ve seen it on Amazon, too. It doesn’t smell at all like Pumpkin Woods, but it does smell a bit like a men’s cologne.

  15. I too, am on the Amazon Wish List bandwagon. I also like that I can have gifts delivered to different addresses for my great niece and nephews. I hate going to stores to shop….well except to Shop Small Businesses.

  16. Well,first of all Susan I just LOVE your stories and reading all of the comments with this post! They honestly made me laugh so much yesterday that I was reading them out loud to my mom as we can so relate to all of the issues. I have to just comment on a few that were left by a few of your readers as they hit home for me. First of all, I have 3 grown daughters and a son in law (that I just LOVE). Being a single parent the girls split their list between what they ask from their dad and what they ask from me. I shop for my mom, brother, sister and law regarding gifts to the girls because it is just easier that way. I honestly wish we could just draw names as so many families do, but that would be so foreign to us in all of our Christmas memories and experiences that we don’t…but do talk about doing it every year!! I have pretty much told the girls to make me a list of what they want…now the next comment I make is “just because you give me a list does not mean you will get what is on that list”. Otherwise, I pick what their grandparents, uncle and I decide what to give them from the list….That way they are not totally surprised, but still surprised as they don’t really know who is giving what. Overall, we try to get them pretty much everything from their list, but it is the idea that as the mom, I still get to choose. Another thing…I used to ask each sister about a gift I bought for the other sister to see if they would like it etc…well I don’t do that anymore. It just seems to make it a bit more fun when they don’t know that their sisters are getting. The girls and I have always been very close, so I try to keep the suspense up as much as I can. In saying that, we do have a big immediate family (I have 3 girls and my brother has 4 girls). So for mom and daddy who are getting up there in age, I have been doing their shopping for them for many years. I do love it…I always start out shopping early (as in 2 weeks ago and promise myself I will be finished by this week or next and not be wrapping presents at the 11th hour on Christmas Eve)….well I still have not mastered that as I kick myself each year saying I will never do this again. This year I will! Anyway, I have never heard of the Amazon list…but it sounds like a great way to know what to get someone. I loved the comment from Bunny Rogers stating that they are downsizing and and mascara and a nap is really all she wants…lol!! I really laughed at that one as I just sold my 4500 SF house and honestly need nothing. I still am giving away things from over the years I no longer need, want or use but seem to keep buying stuff for tablescaping as I dream of my next home layout and obviously have some new insane obsession thinking I need a tablescape (for both the dining room and kitchen table) for every occasion now. So go figure out that crazy logic. I love decorating and it must just be that empty nester mentality…who knows. I still fill up my kids stockings with mainly their favorite candy and this chocolate-orange ball. One funny thing that has now turned into an “omg, I have to get this for all of the girls stockings or I am in trouble” because my middle daughter insists (not really insists, but you moms know what I mean) that she gets that chocolate-orange ball each year or her Christmas is just not Christmas. Well it is all in fun, the ball of chocolate is the kind you smash on the counter top and it comes out in 8 or so chocolate orange slices. Now of course they never eat them , but she still likes to get them….go figure adult children. I guess in many ways, they do still like to be the child when opening gifts at their moms house. No matter how old they get, they will always be my girls and I just love to see them happy. Overall, as we get older I do stress family, being together and life experiences are what really matter. It is not the material things that matter deep down for all of us, we really like just being with family (watching our favorite holiday movies and having our deep insane love of blankets with us while we watch them) and I personally love listening to a favorite radio station that plays non stop Christmas music starting the day after Thanksgiving. That is by far one of the most favorite things I love around this time of year. Back to the Christmas list… I do ask them what do you need versus what do you want. Then I ask them can you remember what you got last year. Most of the time it is “No I can’t”, so we are really just a fun, humble family that likes to act silly and as we get older, we just do not NEED anything. My dad loves sugar in his coffee and one year said he went through 10 lbs about every 2 months (as a nurse my jaw just dropped)!! He is 88, not a diabetic, never gains a pound so go figure. As a present one year I went to Costco and as a joke bought him the 20lb bag of sugar and wrapped it up. Of all the gifts he received, that was his favorite. I love to take candid photos during times like that and when he opened that box of sugar the reaction on his face was priceless. I love having those photos as memories of our holidays. My brother loves Alabama, so last year I wrapped up some Alabama lounge pants in a Saltine Cracker box. He knew it was a gift as as a joke back to me, he asked one of his girls to put the box in the pantry. That whole night I was just about to explode knowing he knew it was a gift wrapped up in a silly cracker box and he was playing the joke right back at me by not opening up the cracker box. Well, of course I caved in. As his older sister I had to make him open that cracker box…so he would open his Christmas gift. That is how silly we can be sometimes. Overall, as a mom, I still love just surprising them with little things that I hear hints of through the year and pick things up as I see them. There is still the list though. OK, Susan back to your dilemma with your son. I am not sure how close you are with your daughter in law, but chances are she would be the best person to tell you what he would like or could use that would be a surprise for him. I totally lean on my son in law as he is awesome and does a great job of helping me out in that area since they live in Georgia. I hope that helps. Again, I love your posts, I love reading all of the comments everyone leaves and now I am going to get out and tackle my list!! Wish me luck as it is a rainy, cold, wet and dreary Monday. Not fun for shopping. But I refuse to shop on the weekends or at night. P.S. I am definitely a woody car fan, so I will definitely be on the lookout for that box of King Arthur Flour with the truck and tree cookie cutter. Thanks so much to you Susan and all of your wonderful readers! Happy Holidays 🙂

  17. Oh, Susan, I forgot….you mentioned looking for that Tiffany charm. Well, if it is not in the stores now, it probably won’t be due to the Christmas demand. If it is no longer in the store check e-bay after the holidays and periodically. Good Luck!

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