For some reason this year, Christmas advertising began before Halloween was over. And at the crack of dawn on November 1st, mass retailers and retailers in masse blew the dust off their ornaments and unboxed their trees, a full three weeks before Thanksgiving! Perhaps I'm telling my age here, well okay, I'm 33...but when I was growing up we didn't think about Christmas until Thanksgiving was over and done with, all of us fat and full on broccoli casserole, macaroni and cheese, Aunt Sharon's famous slaw, and a host of other things that family and friends made and brought to dinner at my grandmother's house. Every Thanksgiving after we piled onto the couches and chairs, our bellies popping out like surprised eyes, someone would ask one of us (the children at that time) what Santa was going to bring us for Christmas. At that point, the ball was rolling. Talk of Santa and Rudolph and sleigh bells (even if there was no snow in Georgia) and of course PRESENTS was non-stop until December 25th. We'd walk down in the woods behind my grandmother's house and check out the trees, looking for the perfect one to chop down when we weren't so full anymore. If it had rained enough that year we'd have a nice full tree with no empty spots that we had to fill with decorations, but if there had been a drought, we'd wind up with a little Charlie Brown-ish, scraggly tree that we usually liked better anyway. Now when I was a kid, of course I wanted presents, but I never really got that many. At some point along the way to becoming an adult, I turned off the "want presents" switch and decided that I'd give to others and that would be my source of happiness and fulfillment. For years this was how it went, and for years I was perfectly happy. Several years in a row my husband and I "adopted" two foster children that one of our friends was caring for. We didn't give each other gifts because we didn't have that much money back then (still don't). But with the money we had, we bought the children new clothes, new Nike shoes, school supplies, and we even gave them our gently used but very nice Trek mountain bikes one year. Their eyes lit up like new stars in the sky. We had them over for dinner and they spent the night. And as undomesticated as I was, I even cooked for them! That was a great feeling and I admit, probably did surpass the pleasure I could have gotten from just getting presents. Of course. The last three years we've concentrated on our child and what we could do to make Christmas special for her. When she was only three months old, for her very first Christmas, we bought her a tree and a fancy schmancy set of colorful lights that had 8 different blinking selections! She would sit in her swing and stare at those lights for hours. The next Christmas she got the tree again, with the blinky lights, and we got her the Radio Flyer Retro Rocket whose seat vibrates when it BLASTS OFF TO JUPITER! Last year she got a whirlwind trip through Toys R Us and we dropped over a hundred dollars on little things to delight and interest her. And we decorated the tree again with the blinky lights. Oh yes, Christmas is fun when you're giving to others. I've enjoyed it all very much.
But I've decided that all good things must come to an end.
This year, I want presents! I want something for myself! I want a real present, wrapped in pretty paper and a nice bow under the tree all for me. And I don't want to know what it is beforehand. The years that my husband has given me a present, save 2 out of 12, I've known what it was because I've been forced to pick it out. Not this year. This year I will do something I've not done since I was seven years old.
I will make a list.
Now list making is not my strong point, you must understand. I don't even make grocery store lists. I never made lists at work. I never made lists when I was in college. Lists confuse me, generally speaking. I can never decide which order to put things in and it seems like I'm wasting time when I could be just sporadically and spontaneously working on things that I could put on the list if I wanted to. If you have a list, you gotta check things off. If there's no list, then I can leave projects unfinished in case I get bored later! Never know.
But this year I'm going to depart from my usual habits altogether. No Ms. Nice Guy. No Ms. Benevolent. None of this "oh don't worry about me" stuff. Uh uh. I want presents. Oh I imagine that I'll get the kid something, because she's cute and cuddly and that's my job as a full fledged adult parent, but I still intend to receive, receive, receive. :)
Here's the list so far:
Tiffany Frank Gerhy "fish" bracelet (the one with the black rubber cord).
Anything STARBUCKS of course.
Patagonia Cordalette pants (in chanterelle)
Patagonia retro-x vest (in any color but natural)
2 new tires for my car
The new Bruce Springsteen CD.
Let's see....that's all for now! If I think of anything else, SANTA, I'll let you know. You can thank all those retailers and gadget makers and advertisers for giving me so much more time to think about presents this year!