I was Christmas shopping today. It gave me joy to start searching for things online that might serve as a gift that will bring a smile, a nod, a grin to a loved one in my life. I find that, by slowly nibbling away at the edges of the Christmas giving process, it is happier for me, and certainly, less hectic. I have tried three approaches.
When my children were very little, I started shopping in July and aimed to be done by December first. I used the days of December to wrap, decorate and be present with my excited young children. The downside? I forgot where I hid items and we found them well into the ensuing summers.
When the three kids were in high school and middle school, I started shopping at Halloween, and aimed to be done by mid-December. It was more hectic overall, but their lists were current and the bustle and excitement was thrilling. I wrapped during the ten days preceding Christmas and recruited the help of my children to accomplish the task.
Last year was a first. I didn’t really begin to shop until two weeks before Christmas. I intend to avoid that approach for the rest of the Christmases that I am blessed to enjoy. It was far to consumer-driven and well, shall I say it, greedy-feeling, for me. I knew I had to fulfill certain expectations, of both my family’s and my own, and it was pressure. Two days before Christmas, I found myself holed up in my office wrapping presents for hours. My children were home from college breaks, but they were eager to see friends and catch up on the lives they had left behind when they went off to school. Barely had I taped the last sheet of wrapping paper, and it was time to unwrap everything. Not optimal from my point of view.
This year, my two oldest children worked very hard to save for a trip they have planned to take together. The both suggested that, besides any stocking gifts that Santa deems to bring them, any and all contributions to their travel funds would be greatly appreciated. That makes sense and certainly changes the equation of how I manage my Christmas kitty.
This enables me to make very careful choices for each stocking, for my extended family and for my friends. I am beside myself with excitement about a gift I found for one family. I ordered it in advance and the store in Vineyard Haven called to advise me it is now in stock. Hurray! My Santa hat may go on at different times each year, but I admit that it can be jolly good fun wearing it!