This is the first year in many that I have felt relaxed about the approaching Christmas holiday. The procrastinator in me has finally realized that “last minute shopping” is not a requirement of the season.
This year I helped a friend with her retail store, so I was shopping for Christmas displays and items before the leaves started falling from the trees. By Halloween, much of my shopping was completed, we had already hosted a Christmas open house at my friend’s store and I was seriously confused about the order of holidays when Thanksgiving rolled around.
Shopping that early creates a different type of problem. It leads to questions of second-guessing. Did I get everything on my list? Am I forgetting anyone? Did we buy enough for so-and-so?
I much prefer this line of questioning than that of the Holiday Season of 2005. My then-boyfriend, now-husband and I were preparing for Christmas with both of our families. I was working over time, under paid, and with a cold (that would eventually turn to bronchitis) at a reporting job. Shopping for the holidays was incredibly stressful and I was loosely tied together with a fake smile.
While I wrapped a large present, sitting on a chair in the middle of my apartment, Terry came through the door. He planned to brave the packed stores for last minute shopping when we discovered we had forgotten someone on our list. The realization shattered my ability to multi-task and the paper from the giant present I was trying to wrap gave me a deep cut.
That was it. I couldn’t take anymore. My bottom lip quivered and the tears started to flow.
Terry’s eyes grew large, as if he’d just seen an alien land in front of him. I imagine it’s a similar brain response: “Woman crying, retreat…Alien landing, run.” It was the first time he saw me spill tears. He told me everything would be ok and then he contributed to our cause by finishing off the Christmas shopping.
After that torturous holiday season, I promised myself I would never get stressed out over Christmas again. It’s such a lovely time of year, filled with amazing church services, the Christmas story, beautiful songs, lightly falling snow, Christmas decorating and goodies, giving, and so much more.
I think my husband is happy to see that there have not been any more Christmas gift wrapping injuries, or breaking down on the job of spreading Christmas cheer.
In recent years I have tried to add little twists. Like the year I printed extra pictures of our gift recipients, carefully cut out their heads from the photographs and stuck those tiny little heads on their gifts in lieu of gift tags. Everyone knew which gift belonged to them and there was no question about where it came from. The giggle fits that ensued were enough to supply holiday cheer for the whole block.
This year, in order for my family members to get their presents, they must identify who said what quotation from the past year. If they can’t figure it out, they don’t get their gifts – it’s just a little incentive to pay attention.
And now I’ve given away too much.
I wish you the brightest holiday season, energy to celebrate a Christmas of “firsts” surrounded by friends and family, and the ability to relax and enjoy it all.