28 Dec 2009

Christmas Coincidences, Santa Synchronicities

Posted by Teapots Happen

Last weekend my girlfriend Becky, my mom, her dog, my dog, and I took a rental car to visit my sister in Illinois.

It was an awful, stressful drive out and I didn’t have high expectations for the rest of the trip. Fortunately, once we arrived things smoothed out enough to relax and enjoy things. As it turned out, the weekend set off a storm of coincidences, enough so that I finally decided I had to write about em.

Bathroom Colors

As soon as we arrived, I was surprised to see my sister had repainted her bathroom – and chosen the same unusual colors as Becky had just used to finish her new apartment’s bathroom – two-tone orange-over-cream walls, with deep teal as the secondary color.

Becky & my sister's bathroom colors

Illuminated Crystals

I had brought a book that my dad had given me as an early Christmas present – J.G. Ballard’s “Crystal World,” and I was trying to finish it up on their couch when it was decided that it was time for opening presents. I set the book aside, and got to unwrapping.

First up was a box of translucent agate slices – they were meant to be used as drink coasters, but “I’ll be more likely to put them in a window,” I said.

In the same package, my sister gave me Aldous Huxley’s “Doors of Perception” and “Heaven & Hell.” Hmm, interesting – I had just bought a different Aldous Huxley book (“The Perennial Philosophy“) for myself just before we’d left Minneapolis.

I opened up DoP to a random page – and was amused to find myself reading words that dovetailed perfectly with Ballard’s novel – which involves a whole lot of rather metaphysical luminescent gems;

In vision, men perceive a profusion of what Ezekiel calls ‘stones of fire’, of what Weir Mitchell describes as ‘transparent fruit’. These things are self-luminous, exhibit a praeter-natural brilliance of colour and possess a praeternatural significance. The material objects which most nearly resemble these sources of visionary illumination are gem-stones.”

And just as I finished reading that sentence, Kevin (my sister’s fiance, sitting across the room from me), suddenly said something to my sister about gems, in reference to a game they both play on Facebook .

Then Becky opened her present from my sister and Kevin – and found  a prism that hangs in the window and rotates by solar power, shooting beams of prismatic light around the room  … the same sun catcher that I had given to Becky a few years ago … but she no longer had it,  really missed it, and had wanted a new one, as she and I had established in the days just before we left for Illinois.

I hadn’t mentioned any of that to my sister, though!

Coincidental Coffee

And then a couple of things happened which I didn’t even know were coincidences for a few days – it wasn’t until I returned home and opened presents with Becky a few days later (on Christmas Day) that I figured them out.

My sister gave me a bag of fresh tasty coffee, which had been ground to be used with a French press. Yum! But … unbeknownst to my sister, I’d knocked my Bodum French press off the dishwasher several months before, and smashed it, leaving me without a coffee maker ever since – so I couldn’t use the grounds she’d given me. But, I told her, I’d use the gift as a motivation to finally get around to replacing my french press.

I didn’t see Becky silently gesturing to my sister over my shoulder … back home on Christmas Eve a few days later, we had a huge blizzard.  I spent the whole “snow day” craving a caffeinated hot cocoa, and telling this to everyone in earshot. But when we finally made it to the Caribou Coffee drive through (they recently partnered with a chocolate company, yum), they had closed early. Alas! No chocolate coffee for me …

But then the next morning when I opened my presents from Becky, I found that she’d bought me hot cocoa mix … and coffee beans and a new French press! All of it had been bought long before I spent Christmas Eve craving some “caffeinated Snow Day hot chocolate” – and before I’d gotten the French press-ground coffee from my sister.

coincidental coffee (I'd already used up the cocoa mix packets)

Becky also gave me a coffee mug – she’d gone to the thrift store to get me one to go with the rest of the coffee-themed gifts, and had been happily surprised to discover the same 25-year old coffee mug that I’d had coffee served to me in when we were staying at the Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel in early December – the same mug she’d jokingly threatened to steal, because it featured two panda bears (I’d once given her two stuffed pandas from my childhood).

(and by the way, I’m not at all a huge coffee drinker, such that anybody would automatically think to give me coffee-related stuff)

Blue Glaciers
(Illuminated Crystals continued?)

I’d given my sister a book of amazing nature photography that I’d first seen over at my friend Jacque’s. While we’d first looked through it together, we wound up talking about a picture of a brilliantly-blue glacier, amazed that the photo was true color and not manipulated.

Back home after Christmas, I was with my friends Workman and Amy, digging through the box of miscellaneous random objects my mom had boxed up and given me as a Christmas present. There were some National Geographic magazines in there – Amy picked one and paged through it as I went through the rest of the box. The first thing she said was “Wow, look at this blue glacier!”

(Then today, while I was getting ready to finally write this post up, I was reading another few pages of the science writing collection I’ve been picking at for months – and laughed when I read, “The ice sheet rose up beyond it, like a wall, 200 feet high. It was a startling shade of blue. One of the glaciologists explained that the color was an effect of the ice’s peculiar density.”)

Synchro Putty

Finally, my favorite Christmas Coincidence – it is not an easy one to tell in a satisfying way, but here goes.

Part One:

At my work, we received a gift basket in the mail from a company the owner works with. He put the goodies out on the office’s kitchen table for us to enjoy – various candy and cookies and other such edibles … and a metal tin with some weird pink goo inside, labeled only with “Get What You Want.”

Was it salt water taffy?

Gingerly, I brought it to my mouth for investigation – and I instantly recognized the familiar smell/taste from childhood – it was a big blob of Silly Putty!

Workman, several years my junior, was unfamiliar with the joys of this magical substance, so I showed him how it lifted newsprint, broke when yanked, stretched when pulled – and of course, how it bounced. We split it in half and started bouncing the chunks around the office, trying to hit the 25-foot high ceiling on the bounce. Almost immediately, Workman’s ball bounced into my office – and utterly disappeared. There weren’t many places it could have gone – but no matter how much we looked, we couldn’t find the missing Silly Putty. My blob came home with me and became a fixture in the living room for the next couple of weeks …

Part Two:

The next week Becky and I went to California, where I would see the Panda coffee mug and have a coincidence with deer in the road. While there, we stayed two nights at my cousin Kristina’s house, hanging out with her, her husband, and our other cousin, Rosa. We hadn’t hung out in years, and got to reminiscing about old times when the whole extended family was still on good terms, and we would all spend every major holiday together at grandma’s house.

We laughed remembering how our uncle Greg used to dress up as Santa every year and come in and deliver presents to us awestruck kids. How our grandpa had a crazy stocked nuclear bombshelter off of the basement, and how the whole basement was filled with things he hoarded in case of catastrophe.  And then I remembered something I hadn’t thought of for years and years …

I was a little kid, and I had gotten a red plastic egg full of Silly Putty for Christmas –  and I loved it. I brought it down into the basement at Grandma’s house to bounce it on the smooth concrete floor. It bounced away out of sight beneath a cabinet… and I could not find it. Ever.

Like Vern in “Stand By Me” digging hundreds of holes in search of his lost jar of buried pennies, I tried to find that Silly Putty every time I went to grandma’s house for a long, long time … but I never found it. It was as if it vanished into thin air. My cousins and I laughed at the tale.

I didn’t connect the story with the Silly Putty I’d just gotten for Christmas at work. Not yet …

Part Three :

As I mentioned earlier, my mom gave me a big box of miscellaneous stuff for Christmas.

Part of that present was a folder containing a dozen or so pieces of Christmas artwork I’d made in childhood – a construction paper Santa, a picture I’d drawn of Santa fleeing a flaming chimney with a singed butt, things like that that she’d saved and used to decorate the house for Christmas.

Among the artwork was an old letter to Santa I’d written in 1986 … when I read it out loud to Workman and Amy, I started laughing when it began “For Christmas, I want “Silly Putty” … it was almost certainly this very letter that had led to the Silly Putty I’d lost in my Grandma’s basement.


What I Want: 1986 Letter to Santa, 2009 Christmas basket Silly Putty tin



Wanting a photo of the old note with the Silly Putty I’d just gotten for Christmas, I looked around the living room for the blob that had been floating around constantly for the past couple of weeks … but it was nowhere to be found.

So instead, I went and found the container that the putty had come in. And it was only then, next to my letter to Santa, that the tin’s slogan made any sense to me – “Get what you want,” indeed …


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9 Responses to “Christmas Coincidences, Santa Synchronicities”

  1. Speaking of illuminated gems … in the “Secrets of Synchronicity” book I blogged about previously, the “Synchronicity drug” was made from a glowing crystal … (blog posts here and here)


    teapots happen

  2. PS – the sun catcher my sister bought for Becky is defective – just as the one I originally bought for her years ago was!

    Hopefully they’ll send out a replacement just like they did back then …


    teapots happen

  3. These are great! & I love how you’ve arranged these stories in a timeline. If I could only be as organized! So here’s to many more synchros, your style, for 2010!


    Trish MacGregor

  4. That’s sposed to read: IF I…
    oh well. You get the idea!


    Trish MacGregor

  5. I don’t know your age in 1986 but I got such a kick out of your wishlist. You are awfully polite to Santa by offering “if not available” and then providing other options. Your folks were most appreciative, I’m sure! As I was unfamiliar with an Entertech gun a Google search sent me off on all kinds of wonderful toy research! Thank you for sharing all the recent syncs.



  6. I forgot to dig into that … wow.


    … and did you look up Muscles?



    teapots happen

  7. I think I buried a few sealed hermetic eggs with silly putty homunculi wads in your back yard.



  8. I just received those two exact same Huxley books in the post 😉


    The Empathic Guide

  9. LOL, that’s our coffee pot, which I used this Christmas to make Turkish tea for my mother!


    Sharon Woods