I just got off the phone with my sister. We were comparing notes about our progress with the holiday madness. Both of us have been having the same experience. We have a list. We are organized. We go down our gift lift methodically. We buy a thoughtful gift for each designated recipient. We wrap it carefully. We cross that person off the list.

But the list keeps growing! What about that guy down the street who helped me fix my flat back in March? What about those long lost childhood friends I sent a present to last year? What about the friend of the neighbor who died two years ago who used to come by on a regular basis? What about the little girl we pass every day on our walk through the neighborhood? If this is the season for giving, where does the giving end?

And then there’s the “second guessing”. Two days ago I bought little presents for the teenage stepdaughters of my sister. I thought they were cute. Yesterday I was afraid they might be hokey, or that the kids would be insulted thinking they were “baby” presents. So I added another present for each of them, which meant I had to add another present for their younger brother. This sent me to the mall yet one more day, one day closer to Christmas. Need I tell you what a scene it was just to find a parking place?

Now, let’s talk about the “M” word. That’s right. Money. Oh, dear, not a very seemly word for such an exalted time of year! But as the list grows, so does the expense. I always start out (remember, I began shopping this year in October) very optimistically thinking I will be smart in my shopping. I will find just the right presents that are reasonably priced. I will budget myself. Come December 26th, I will feel that I have given generously, yet wisely. (Kind of like the three kings – No silly video games, no overpriced jewelry, etc., but only the most exquisite, yet symbolic of gifts). By this time every year, I am concerned for our future. I can see the repercussions of my excesses haunting us long into our golden years. (“Remember Christmas of 2004? That’s the reason we had our phone service turned off in May of 20014!”)

By December 21st, I am your typical consumer. I am out there with my credit card, just praying for an idea for one last gift. I don’t care if I have to overpay for it, so long as I get to scratch it off the list and move on with my life (and get out of the mall). It’s not a pretty picture. Yesterday I was sitting in my car in the mall parking lot, just staring out into space and wondering what to do. I only had two people on my list to buy for. You’d think it would be easy, but it wasn’t. I felt totally overwhelmed. I sat there staring and having a severe hot flash. But my brain wasn’t really working. I got home and realized I was still one gift shy of my goal.

On top of that, this morning I woke up and thought of a couple of friends we had heretofore overlooked on our list. I couldn’t believe it. Art gave me that vacant stare that signals he has already washed his hands of the whole thing. This is one of my sacred obligations as a wife – to deal with the stuff that’s too important to ignore, yet too tedious to be dealt with. (Does anybody out there relate to that one?)

Anyway – I’m off to the mall again today. This time, I swear, it’s the last time for this year. And by Christmas, whatever I’ve overlooked or forgotten will just have to go on my permanent record as an official Christmas blooper.

Where’s Santa when I need him?!

© 2004, Robin Munson

 Category: Humor Robin's Nest

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  1. TheRoseRabbit

    I didn’t get my family anything yet…I have some shopping to do.

  2. Anonymous

    I know I’ll come off sounding like a grinch, but what you write about is what bothers me about Christmas. So many people I know worry and fret about it: am I giving enough; what happens if I get but didn’t give; what will they think of me; and, ultimately, how will I pay for it.

    Although Christmas is not “my” holiday, I remember it as a more gentle time. I could share it with friends and feel that there was a magic in the air. We would spend Christmas Eve playing Monopoly and then go out and deliver our morning newspapers. The gifts were more affordable. Of course, back then there were no credit cards as we know them now, and the commercialization wasn’t as fierce.

    Thanks for writing. Some day I may be encouraged to do the same.


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