Other than yesterday's blitz on Costco, I have rarely been making it out to the retail hubs these days. If I have a tremendous coupon or a pressing need, I'll relent. But most of the time, I find that standing in a mall or shopping establishment "just to look" is about the equivalent of being on a strict diet and standing in Krispy Kreme just to smell the sugar in the air. And about as effective in keeping temptation at bay.
Christmas is in less than two months; a fact not lost on me primarily because of my annoying "Think ahead!" mentality. But I'm expecting that Christmas 2010 will be a Kate Moss kind of Christmas in the gift department. That is...THERE...but ridiculously thin.
While Big Dave and I were riding to Gulf Shores to see Bon Jovi the other night (now THERE'S a gift that keeps on giving)...we were talking about what we might like to have for Christmas from each other. We figured out that other than one or two things that we could easily just do without (because we have) or go get ourselves (but haven't because we don't want to be anywhere near retail), we are pretty much at a loss.
The Christmas mornings of my childhood were filled with mounds of items from my list that were dutifully chosen after perusing the Sears Wish Book for hours. I always looked at it as the fulfillment of those wishes I had stored up all year long as I charged through life in my matchy-matchy outfits ordered from the big version of the catalog. Yes, I was a victim of mail-order shopping before online made it cool.
I remember waiting with my little sister until everyone in the house was awake...including my poor Uncle Harry who had been up (along with Mom) until all hours the night before playing cards with Aunt June and her family. I'm sure that he cared little if at all about the newest doll acquisition or seeing which games we would be begging him to play for the remainder of the afternoon. Some of the early years, I remember not being able to actually see what I had received because someone was filming the unveiling of what Santa had delivered and the bulbs were so intense that the resulting footage closely resembles me looking exactly like a deer in the headlights.
I suppose that it is because of those memories of Christmas being so joyous that I feel the need to try to replicate that as an adult. Except that the cost of everything to bring a smile on the face of someone I care about is so much greater than it used to be.
Which brings me back to my dilemma.
I'm using every tool within my disposal to figure it out this year. I'm trying to be creative but without losing the opportunity to truly bless someone in the real spirit of Christmas.
On both sides of the family, we have started drawing names so that we can enjoy a little of the festivities without applying for a loan. That hasn't really slowed my roll a whole lot, though, because I still dearly love buying into the illusion that I can find "the perfect gift" while keeping everything even. My mother was a master at that while we were growing up and my children are especially good at determining if someone got the better deal after all of the dust and unwrapped gifts - are settled.
I find that most of the time, we end up swapping gift cards, though. This seems to be a bit ridiculous to me.
So, here's a list of what I'd like for Christmas (not so that anyone reading this will add or delete me from your list), so I can get some thoughts out on paper (or cyberspace...whatever) and quit pondering it in my head.
1. A day of peace and $25 to go get a pedicure. The former means that nobody wants me to prepare, fix, find, or do anything for them. The latter means that I can sit in that comfy chair and actually feel like I've had a massage (because I can't stand people I don't know touching me). Yes, I do have to listen to the little man tell me what a disgrace my heels are, but I can live with that.
2. Perfume. The only trouble is...I don't know what I like because I can only smell the first two scents and I have to go into retail establishments to search. I'm counting on people who choose what scents to put in the advertisements I receive to tell me what's out there. So far, what's out there seems pretty lame.
3. Merry Maids. Yeah, this has been on the list since 2001.
4. Gift card to Bonefish Grill. I'd love this so that Big Dave and I can actually go on a date. We are supposed to be empty nesters next year, and even if Brian stays here to get a newer car instead of independence, we're going to act like he's gone for entertainment purposes. We're sure he'll understand.
5. A goat from World Vision. No, I don't actually want the goat...I want someone who needs the goat to actually possess it. I just want to know that somewhere in the world...there is a goat out there making someone's world better because I didn't get more stuff that I don't need. My friend, Carol, gave our scrapbooking group a goat a couple of years ago. It was an awesome feeling to open the card and know that her generosity in our names was out there really helping someone who needed it.
I realize that Christmas is not only about what we get...it is about what we give. It is about keeping our hearts open and our appreciation levels high. It is about the celebration of the birth of the savior of the world, and about reflecting that joy by blessing the people in our lives. I get that completely. I really do.
It is just that we are faced with Christmas decorations in October, we want to bless people in the way that they can best receive it, and we have fewer resources at our disposal. We've also learned that the older we get...the less we need, want, or can use.
This year, I am making a conscious effort to use the gifts that God has given me wisely. I'm staying out of the stores...including the online ones. The "reason for the season" should be front and center...not the trimmings or trappings that I have come to know as "traditions."
As I write this, there are approximately sixty-eight shopping days until Christmas. To put this in perspective...sixty-eight days ago, school was starting. Yes, it really is just around the corner.
So, today, as you venture out to purchase your candy corn and are incensed to see that the Christmas decorations are already out at your local retail outlet, start thinking about your holiday and how you want it to be this year. You have time to make it different...better...brighter.
And yes, you still have time to order your goat from World Vision.