I am chagrined to note that not much in my approach to the holiday season seems to have changed!
.............................. Charge, Please! .............................
On my list of thing to do, Christmas shopping rates below scrubbing toilets and above gutting fish. It's not that I dislike giving gifts...nor am I immune to the spirit of the season. Christmas morning never fails to find me dewy-eyed with emotion. Dewey-eyed is usually the best I can manage; by then I've shed enough tears to completely wash away the pier at White Rock!
The odd thing is that I manage to forget this from year to year. Seduced by light-bedecked trees and a chorus of carols in the background, I plunge willingly and wistfully into the shopping mall. With a long, generous list in hand and a heart full of good intentions, I convince myself that this will be the perfect Christmas; this will be the year I make everyone's dreams come true.
The good intentions do not last long, and the list grows no shorter in spite of the rate at which my wallet empties. Nothing has prepared me for the prices. I make a valiant effort to resist, but all too soon I'm choking out those ruinous words, "Charge, please!". There is no turning back now.
My undoing is that I may be the only 40-year-old woman who still believes in Santa Claus. To me, he's more than a fat old man who hates to shave and has strange taste in clothes. He makes wishes come true, and in pursuit of that quest, I am his tireless ally.
Even I have my limits, however. Nothing can persuade me to buy a talking toy bear that costs as much as a week's groceries. As I see it, what could he possibly have to say that would be worth giving up Twinkies? More importantly, do I really need another mouth in the house?
For me, the real horror comes when shopping for that most dreaded of the species - the person who has everything. Hours of numbing indecision leave me willing to consider any idea, no matter how bizarre. Perhaps Uncle Bob really does need an engraved brass case to hold his sticks of gum. Maybe cousin Ralph could use a pair of slippers that look like chopped-off bear feet. Desperation tends to cloud good judgment.Shopping trip follows shopping trip, and as the days count down, I feel the pace speed up alarmingly. Television commercials become longer than the shows; sales are more common than short tempers, and the paper boy is forced to hire an assistant as advertising inserts begin to outweigh the news..
This is when real panic sets in. Stores that have run out of stock keep you dangling with the promise of future orders. Competition becomes fierce for what little is left on the shelves. Even the calmest of shoppers can resort to bared teeth and a warning growl when it comes to a choice between remaining ladylike or getting her little boy what he wants for Christmas. While I have never actually seen blood drawn, I am careful not to go Christmas shopping with people I care about.
Caught up in the momentum, the most important thing I forget from year to year is that when that special morning finally arrives, the amount of effort it took to get there no longer matters. As I exchange gifts with my loved one, what we share goes far beyond the gift itself. We give of ourselves, and out of that giving, a little magic is woven.Santa and I have pulled it off another year; and even my husband's moaning when the bills begin to pour in does little to dampen my euphoria.
After all, you can't put a price tag on magic!