My Short List of ‘Ready or Not’ Christmas Certainties

The Polar Express

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With Christmas approaching like the Polar Express, I ‘ve made a list of things I’m certain will happen during this season.  Some of these certainties are joy-producing holiday realities.  On the other hand, some are  headache-inducing holiday realities.

Headache-inducing certainties:

  1. I’ll break a special ornament at some point during the holidays.  It may be when I’m putting packages under the tree or turning on the lights.  Even when the kids were small, it was always me bumping the tree.  I helped my friend decorate her tree last year and broke a treasured ornament from her grandmother. I’m telling you, it’s always me.
  2. I’m going to lose something during the holidays and it will annoy me for weeks.  When I decorate, I use every bit of empty cabinet and closet space to store the items I replace with Christmas decorations.  Somehow one of these items gets pushed into the deep, dark recesses of a closet or cupboard and the house choses it as the yearly sacrifice.  Quietly one night during the holidays as I sleep, having the dream of the unprepared (You know the one-you have a test right now and you’ve never attended the class), something happens.  As I have this, ‘Why didn’t I wrap presents today?’ dream, the sacrificial object fades into the wall.  It slips into the nether regions of my abode.  There it remains, waiting to reappear next year in a closet I thoroughly searched fifty times, this year, to find it.
  3. I’m going to eat too much.  Am I the only one that finds I eat twice as much when I travel?  I get fifty miles from home and some unknown hunger gland activates and I lose all will power.
  4. I’m not going to ride on elevators.  I ‘ve never liked being in a crowded, little moving box  and, with the recent tragedy, I’ll avoid as best I can.  Luckily we aren’t going to NYC for Christmas.
  5. I’ll convince myself that one of the gifts I’ve purchased is, without a doubt, the wrong gift.  I’ll flounder back and forth over whether to return it but, as I stated in ‘Laments of a Last Minute Shopper’, I won’t.  With agony I’ll watch as the recipient opens the present and I’ll then observe their reaction.  If they’re perceptive, the person will go overboard in convincing me they love it.  If they just show the appropriate amount of gratitude, I’ll worry it was the wrong gift well into the Easter season.

Joy-producing certainties:

  1. I’ll laugh at shoppers out this week trying to finish their gift gathering. I’ll drive by the shopping center in my warm car with my Christmas flavored latte and watch. Tardy shoppers will struggle to find extra warmth in their winter coats as they trudge across the overflowing parking lot armed with large purses, ready to do battle with other shoppers.  Sadly, they’ll find all the good gifts are long gone.  I may not have gotten all the gifts I wanted when I shopped online but I didn’t have to brave the less-than-kind elements or less-than-kind shoppers.  I think I deserve a little giggle.
  2. I’ll not be up until two on Christmas morning waiting for excited children to slumber as they fight, with every fiber of their being, to try to stay awake and spot St. Nick.  I won’t have to patiently watch my husband assemble toys.  I used to mentally, not verbally, beg him to just pick up those instructions so we might get at least two hours of sleep.  I was usually too exhausted to verbally fight the battle of man smarts  versus paper directions.
  3. I’m going to uncharacteristically buy a lottery ticket.  Somehow when my family comes together at Christmas, we convince ourselves we possess some sort of family psychic bond and we’ll be able to pick the elusive six winning numbers.  We’ve never won a penny.
  4. I’ll nudge one or more children during Midnight Mass.  These children, finding it easy to nap on hard wooden pews, are the same children who can sit on a soft couch with a blanket wrapped around them and stay awake to play video games until 4:00am on any other night.  But we’re all together in church, so this is on the joy list.
  5. I’ll laugh until I cry.  We spend lots of time around mom’s big table eating unbelievable meals, playing games, and talking late into the night.  And all of this is done with lots of laughter and love.

I could go on and on with the certain joys of Christmas, so maybe I can just overlook it when the first five headache-inducing certainties occur.  Except for #3.  Okay, except for #3 and #4.  And I’m iffy on #5.  Okay, #1 and #2.  I’ll overlook #1 and #2.  That’s progress, right?

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Laments of a Last Minute Shopper

English: A Swedish Chrismas gift.

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I did it again.  Every year I swear I’ll Christmas shop throughout the upcoming year and when December arrives, all my well thought-out presents will be wrapped and bowed and ready to be placed under my perfectly decorated tree.  The decorations, on this imagined tree,  are hung with great care because I had hours to fuss with the tree instead of shopping.  The only thing standing in the way of that scenario is unorganized, procrastinating me.

During the year I see lots of great Christmas gift possibilities. I can’t explain why I don’t just buy the gifts immediately.  Probably I’m afraid if I do,  I’ll then find the really perfect gift in the next store.  And, if  that happens, I’ll have to return the other gift and, oh boy, I really hate having to return stuff.  I make a mental note to remember the gift but it seems that I’ve forgotten that my brain doesn’t work that way anymore. By the time I leave the store,  I’ve forgotten that perfect gift.  I’ve also forgotten what I did with my car keys.

Here’s the lowdown on my Christmas shopping.   I, of course, shop online because I don’t have time to go to real stores and select my gifts up close and personal, or , more honestly, I don’t have the patience to fight the ever-present crowds. Waiting this long to shop online is okay if you don’t have to mail gifts or you have lots of bucks to shell out on overnight shipping fees or you’re not extremely picky about your selections. Let this be a warning to all you other procrastinators.   All the well thought-out gifts you wanted to buy are sold out.  Could it be that more people are shopping online?  Anyhow, we late shopper are stuck with the ‘make it work’ gifts.  And I’m going to tell you, it hurts.  The guilt lies within.  I should’ve gotten that personalized pie dish when I first spotted it in the catalogue.

To tell  the truth, online is getting as stressful as in store shopping for me. I spent too many hours on the computer today. I stressed after the third ‘sold out’ notice.  I skipped lunch (unless you count chocolate kisses), avoided the phone and ignored the unmade bed.  The one phone exception was when I called my mom and, in my hazy confusion, I let it slip I was still in my pajamas at eleven.  I know this is one of the perks of working at home, but I could feel her parental judgement from five hundred miles away.

When it finally ended after five, I was in a daze and  my credit card number was embedded into my short-term memory but the pain, brought on by marathon Christmas shopping, ceased.  I got everything -or a facsimile of everything – I needed, except for a few odds and ends. And again I’m vowing to get started early for next Christmas.  But what if the world really does end in 2012? I might need to  reconsider this and wait and see. 2013 might be a more practical year to start.

I know, I know, woe is me and all that.  There are many shoppers that wait later than this to get started and they do a fine job of it.  That’s too much pressure for me.  Shopping any later could be the difference in getting on Santa’s good list or Santa’s ‘restraining order’ list.  That’s a risk I’m not willing to take.

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