You know what would make Christmas an even better holiday? No gifts. When I throw this suggestion up for discussion with my family I, of course, get extreme resistance. My daughter shares, “Yeah mom, there’s already a holiday like that. It’s called Thanksgiving.” And my son looks at me like he’s superior in all areas of cognitive brain function and announces, “A giftless Christmas would destroy the economy.”
Okay, they both may be onto something and it’s not their fault or anyone’s fault that I suffer from what could be classified as a gifting anxiety disorder. I’m one of those people who stress out, like get heart palpitations in the aisle of Toys R Us and are overcome with a level of dizziness so severe that I have to lean on a limited edition, five-foot, stuffed Chewbacca plush, as I obsessively fret over finding the perfect present. And, it’s not so much about the gift as it is about creating that unique moment in time when someone’s face is all aglow with surprise and elation over the present they just received. Think of it as a Hallmark holiday movie in slow motion with a confectionary sugar glaze. That’s what I’m always striving for.
If you doubt the degree of my gift anxiety let me share with you some of my Christmas crazy.
When my son was young and totally into model railroading I would buy two of whatever train he wanted. Let me take a moment and explain to those of you (and that would be most of you) that don’t know anything about model trains. These choo choos aren’t cheap. Purchasing a Lionel Harry Potter Hogwarts Express Train Set is an investment. These trains are also fragile, as in why don’t we just let our kid drag great, great, great grandma Shirley’s antique, china tea set that survived the sinking of the Titanic around a set of metal tracks. Due to the fact that I lived in some sort of psychotic fear of the train arriving broken, getting broken, or failing to make a successful loop I would stockpile trains so I would have backups lest anything mechanical dared to ruin my son’s Christmas morning.
Same story for my daughter expect change train to American Girl Doll. There is nothing more mercurial than an elementary school aged girl when it comes to deciding what American Girl doll she wants for Christmas. You can have her promise, pinky swear, and declare in her two page letter to Santa Claus that all she really, really, wants for Christmas is the Samantha doll. Then as you’re driving to the Christmas Eve candlelight service from the back seat of the car your now not so angelic daughter proclaims that she hopes and dreams of getting the Kit Kittredge doll for Christmas. Argh!!!
Because I’m probably in need of some sort of pharmaceutical intervention and therapy (oh who am I kidding there’s no probably) I kept a stash of American Girl dolls at the ready in case my daughter changed her mind T minus six hours till Santa. I’m telling you I was the gift version of a Doomsday Prepper!
Brace yourselves because the crazy coaster is now about to take another plunge. I would hide my present hoarding from my husband. My master plan was to always secure my ERG (emergency replacement gifts) and then on December 26 brave the crowds and initiate Operation Return. It was all good until the year my spouse discovered my “Santa’s Little Helper” cache of presents.
To say he wasn’t happy would be the understatement of understatements. At first, he thought I was planning on giving our kids all the presents he saw hidden deep in my closet. I believe his statement (if you call yelling a statement) was “And this right here is why we’ll never be able to pay for their college!” I attempted to calm him down by proudly explaining the method to my madness. I mean come on, I had a pretty good system going. It was all about be prepared. I even used a Dallas Cowboy coach Tom Landry classic quote on him about how being prepared means winning the game of life or something like that. How can you argue with the legendary Tom Landry? Well, apparently my husband could.
That was the day my gift hoarding ended. From then on I was living on the edge, flying by the seat of my pants and just going with the gift flow. I hated it. I was a nervous wreck without my EGR’s. I had no backups. There was nothing in my closet to aid in the elimination of any worst case scenarios. It was so bad I had to self medicate by eating loads of candy canes and I don’t even like candy canes. (Although in the candy cane hierarchy I will say the Jolly Ranchers rule.)
Then something much worse happened. My kids outgrew gifts and by this I mean they no longer desired me hand selecting their presents and creating a Christmas morning tableau that would make them weep with joy. Nope. Now all they wanted was freaking gift cards. They were killing my Christmas mojo. Where’s the joy in giving a gift card? They’re not even fun to wrap. And then while I was complaining about the gift card it’s evil present twin entered the picture – the iPhone. Curse you cellular technology and your diabolical plot to come out with a new phone every blasted year.
Here’s the deal. In my family if you’re want a phone that’s close to $200 that’s pretty much all you’re getting except for some Christmas Eve flannel p.j.’s and assorted stocking stuffers. Where’s the fun in that I ask you in having only one little box under the tree? The whole thing made me long for the days of the Xbox and Wii. At least they had games you could play as a family. Now, I just had children staring at a screen. I swear one Christmas all I saw was the top of my kids’ heads. Not that they don’t have perfectly lovely heads, but still is it wrong for a mother to want a little more on Christmas day? I think not.
The whole thing just exacerbated my gifting anxiety disorder. I feared my holiday spirit was going, going, gone until the ghost of Christmas Future paid me a visit. Someday down the road of life I would be a grandmother and you know what that means don’t you? It’s a carte blanche to go crazy expect it’s not called crazy it’s called being a grandma. Even better the expected societal norm is for grandmothers to exhibit excessive holiday behavior. In ten, maybe 15 years I can reboot my Christmas insanity all over again. It will be Christmas 2.0 – bigger, better and grandma sized and not a gift card in sight, at least not on my watch.
Still looking for that perfect Christmas present? Calm yourself because I’m here to help. What need is a heaping helping of Snarky. Yes, my precious holiday angel just click on one of the links and presto you can get yourself some Snarky for only, wait for it, wait for it, 99 cents! You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon. It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read. 🙂