By Maria Schulz
Once again, I did it. I crossed the Christmas finish line. I’ve left tons of wrapping paper, baked goods, decorations, Christmas cards, and gift receipts littered in my path, but I completed the marathon and I’m so proud.
It’s too late now to do anything about the gifts that didn’t get here yet. My trusty internet vendors promised to have everything here by December 24th, but bad weather and other trials got in the way. Some things just didn’t get here. You know what? The earth didn’t crash into the sun because my gifts didn’t arrive. Life goes on.
My children are growing up, and that means Santa doesn’t have to come here anymore. I miss leaving him carrots for the reindeer and cookies to hold him over for the rest of the journey. I miss tracking his every move on NORAD. I miss going to the mall to have my kids’ picture taken with him.
You know what I don’t miss? Disguising my handwriting because my kids noticed that Santa and I have the same loopy signature. I don’t miss standing on line for an hour while children scream, or dragging my crying child to sit on some weird stranger’s lap, and having said weird stranger yell at me because I decide it’s not worth it anymore. I don’t miss having to eat cookies left out because Santa needs to show he liked our baking, or eating carrots that I don’t want.
It’s fun to see my girls taking their own earnings from babysitting or gifts to buy something for the people they love. They are moving away from “me, me” and towards “what can I do for others?” This year, they helped me buy toys for The Lexiebean Foundation’s toy drive and intend to help me bring more donations to them on December 28th. That may be my favorite part of crossing the Christmas finish line.
As the sun set yesterday and I realized that some of my gifts weren’t going to get here in time for the Christmas gift opening frenzy, I had a few panic-stricken moments. I considered running out to the local convenience store and getting whatever gifts I could lay my hands on, such as:
- Boxed mini-cakes. Who doesn’t love them?
- A giant slush drink: I could tell my brother (whose gifts never arrived) that this reminds me of the little candy store near our old house on 48th Ave. We would walk a half a block from our house when we were 5 years old and enjoy a big slush drink together. Do you think he’ll buy it?
- A box of dog treats: I never remember to get my dog gifts, and I always feel kind of guilty about it. So instead, I hand her the wrapping paper or the roll from the gift wrap, and she runs around the house tearing it all apart. It’s then that I remember that she doesn’t really care AND she doesn’t even know that it’s Christmas.
- A mega bottle of ibuprofen: because Christmas is really, really stressful, and I want to show my sensitive side. On second thought, maybe I’ll keep this.
- Jean Nate body wash: even though my grandmother isn’t around anymore and no one I know has ever expressed any desire for it, this might still be a winning gift
- The Hess truck: while I’m filling up my gas tank, I may just pop in and get this for my little nephew. Wait…what do you mean they’re ALL OUT?
- A bottle of antibacterial soap: I’ll even throw in a box of bandages
- A gallon of milk: and a box of chocolate chip cookies, of course
- Frozen corndogs. ‘Nuff said.
- King-sized Kit Kats: what crazy person wouldn’t love these?
- A life-sized M&M doll: if the convenience store owner lets me buy the one on display
When I was a kid, we used to pore over the shelves at Genovese Drug Stores looking for the perfect gift for our older relatives. I’d get my grandmother some perfume while I got the other grandmother a box of lavender soaps. My Uncle Don would get a dress shirt or tie, or a record album.
Uncle Sal (our great uncle) got bottles and bottles of cologne. Old Spice, Halston, Brut, or Soap on a Rope were all wrapped and under the tree, just waiting for him. It’s not that he smelled bad; we just couldn’t think of what else to get an older man who had everything.
We did this for many years until we decided to really put some thought into his gifts, and we collectively showered him with clothes, sweaters, gloves, and records, just to show him that we thought of him as an individual and not some old guy who smelled bad.
When Uncle Sal was done opening his gifts, he looked sad.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I use the cologne and soap you kids buy me all year long,” Uncle Sal said. “Why didn’t anyone get it for me?”
When his birthday came just a couple of months later, we made things right by getting him enough cologne and soap for an army battalion. After this, I learned a valuable gift-giving lesson. If your Uncle isn’t complaining about your last-minute, seemingly impersonal, fall-back gift, why torture yourself searching for something more meaningful?
Thanks, Uncle Sal, for teaching me not to worry so much and to go with what works. It’s a lesson I have to remind myself about every single year. Because in the end, whether you’re buying birthday, Hanukkah, or Christmas gifts, it can be as easy or as complicated as you make it.
I really hope my brother Chris enjoys that bottle of anti-bacterial soap and box of corndogs that I got him.
Ooooh…who wouldn’t enjoy bacon wrapped dates, deviled eggs, or cream cheese penguins? Get some great ideas for appetizers at allrecipes.com:
Here’s my favorite of the bunch:
So, Hungry Lifers: did you cross the holiday gift-giving finish line in one piece? What’s the best, no-thought-whatsoever-but-they-loved-it-anyway gift you’ve ever given or received? What’s your favorite Christmas appetizer? Please leave a comment below and let us all know. Thanks!
Merry Christmas! I’m off to my own gift-opening frenzy. Enjoy!