I love shopping for Christmas presents. I love finding that thoughtful item that my mother or husband — that one thing they didn’t know they needed or that would just bring a smile to their face. Now that I have kids, that feeling has magnified. I know EXACTLY what they love, what makes them giggle, what occupies their tiny hands and minds. So it’s not really a surprise to me that I’m always on the hunt for that perfect gift. The problem is it lasts from July to Christmas Eve.
It’s not unusual for me to start buying things in the summer. When my son points out something as we shop for a friend’s birthday party, I make a note and buy that toy later. I get so exciting thinking how he won’t even remember that he picked it out all those months ago and how happy he’ll be that it’s back in his life. Then of course, I’m a sucker for Black Friday sales. I know, I know it’s a consumerism evil, but I don’t line up at 4am and for now, the stores are still open so I go looking for the really choice deals (and nothing less). So by the end of November I’ve got myself a really great stock for both my kids and my niece and nephew.
But then something happens to me around December 15. I think, “there’s less than two weeks until Christmas Day! Do I have enough presents?” The anxiety grows as the day comes closer. I imagine them tearing through their few gifts and sitting there looking dejected on Christmas morning. By December 23 I’m sure I have ENOUGH presents, but are they the right presents? What’s the one thing my four-year-old has mentioned more than any other. Clearly they won’t be getting everything they ask for, but I do hope to not disappoint them in that ONE thing they really had their heart set on. I remember one Christmas in particular when I asked for my first Cabbage Patch Kid. Never mind the fact that they were flying off shelves, but my family had very little money and those things were really expensive. So I opened all my presents and couldn’t help feeling disappointed that there was no Cabbage Patch Kid. I didn’t cry or even say anything, but I recall being really bummed in my head. After breakfast a few hours later my parents acted shocked and said they forgot to tell us there was one more gift for each of us waiting under their bed. It was my Cabbage Patch Kid. To this day I remember that feeling of sheer joy all the way to my bones every time I think about it. We may not be able to give our kids a lot, but I hope to give them a few Christmases like that.
I also have the worst (or is it the best?) fallback excuse to buy more. My kids’ birthdays are both in February, so I rationalize that if at the end of the day I have too many gifts I can just give them the excess for their birthday. And my hand to heaven, I actually did that last year. I didn’t buy a single gift between Christmas and their birthdays because I was all set. I was so proud of myself. Because frankly who has money for anything after Christmas? So now I feel like I have a free pass to say yes to those last minute frantic buys.
And why am I frantic a few days before Christmas? Mostly because I have no idea what I’ve already bought the kids. We hide their gifts in random little places all around the apartment so I have no idea what my stash looks like as a whole. Last night my husband and I took the whole thing out, separated the loot into piles for each kid Christmas, for my niece and nephew, and even both of my children’s birthday. Turns out for all my planning AND my panicking, it all worked out perfectly. Now I’m done…until July.