Holiday Shopping Puzzlers

il_340x270-1.1358738970_n9r8I actually enjoy holiday shopping but sadly my family has ruined it for me. Now, I get lists where all I have do is point and click to their on-line shopping bag. Efficient? Yes. Fun? No. This means the only real shopping I do is for myself because, yes, I buy my own presents.

There are though a few things that puzzle me about shopping in December and one of them is the music being played in stores. Props to Bath and Body Works for their traditional approach in regard to holiday tuneage. Burl Ives gentle crooning on “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” is something to be treasured and lulled me into buying yet another “Fresh Balsam” holiday candle. And when Johnny Mathis started singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” I felt duty bound to double up on my “Peppermint Twist” bath gel purchase.

Sadly, the music segued to ghastly at the next store I went into. What’s up current singers butchering a classic? Jingle Bells doesn’t required vocal gymnastics? I’m tone deaf but even I don’t think that “dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh” requires a show-offy take on the lyrics.

Another thing that confuses me are coupon conundrums. Pretty much retail speaking, no matter what store you go into everything is marked down by at least 30 percent. You also then have your digital coupons and loyalty savings for a “joining” the store “club” etc. The problem is that the math required to use your coupons is ACT worthy and presents a mathematical brain teaser.

Can you combine the current discount with your coupon and loyalty card? If the answer is no, you then have to try to figure out what will be cheaper just taking the discounted price or going the coupon route combined with the loyalty reduction? And then what if you return the purchase will you get your loyalty bucks back?

The people who say you never use math once you graduate are fools. I use math every time I shop and not to brag but I can add up what’s in my Target cart and I’m usually not off my more than 15 cents. It still amazes my kids. My son once asked me how can I do that but not know basic algebra? I told him my skill set was “everyday math.”

Holiday shopping also woos me to make dumb decisions. As in I recently bought a hat. Not a hat to wear when I walk my dogs, but a fashion statement hat. A beret to be exact. J Crew had all these cute berets laid out on a counter and the fact that they looked like giant macaroons might have influenced my decision to buy one. (I was hungry.) As soon as I attempted to wear my beret in public, I felt very self-conscious, like the people might be feeling sorry for me kind of self-conscious.

I just don’t have the face or the head for a beret. But, then not two days later I was seduced by a fedora at Anthropolgie. It didn’t help that some very lovely young ladies were in the store wearing fedoras. I decided to give it try and let’s just say it wasn’t for me.

I was bummed. I want to be the kind of woman who can pull off a hat. But then I started thinking positive about my beret. I was going to wear it but only when I go out with my daughter. At 18 she’ll be mortified to see me styling a huge hot pink wool macaroon that’s perched on my head at a very jaunty angle. Hmm, maybe that beret wasn’t such a bad purchase after all.

 

 

My Christmas “Do Not Want” List

I have no idea what I want for Christmas besides the mom trifecta of world peace, love and the eradication of disease and famine from our planet. I do thodfb611ed1d99e87277defbdda9836e41--birthday-cards-happy-birthdayugh know what I don’t want and what I will be ticked off if I get.

It’s not that I’m picky. In fact, I consider myself a low maintenance human (currently open to debate by my family) who has no need for anything flashy. No jewels or designer apparel appeals to me. The only exception I’ll make is designer cleaning appliances. Because without a doubt, one of my best Christmas presents in the history of me breathing has been my Dyson with some super over-the-top pet hair attachments.

It’s my chore bestie and I can’t imagine my life without it. Go ahead and make fun, but I’m telling you my vacuum has life changing properties. You don’t know true joy until you see its suction prowess in regard to kitty litter eradication.

In terms of what I don’t want, well I’ll stick to my top three staring with one of those DNA family tree deep probes. I just read that these kits are predicted to be one of the top gifts for Christmas. Ugh.

I get people wanting to find out that they’re half Scottish, so they can use that as an excuse to stuff themselves with Walker’s shortbread cookies to make up for lost time, but what I don’t want during the holiday is discovering I have a gene pool floating with every worst-case medical diagnosis known to 21stcentury medicine. And as a proud hypochondriac all that information would be like throwing lighter fluid on my already extensive list of ailments, I’m positive I have.

Another gift that I don’t want, or need is new freaking phone. I’ve tried in earnest to explain to my children that perhaps one shouldn’t get a new phone until the one you have is worn out or no longer compatible with current technology. I don’t think my iPhone 6 is obsolete. It’s not cracked, still holds a charge and I can text with wild abandon so why do I need an iPhone 10 that will up by cell phone bill by at least $25 a month? I’m still miffed I was shamed into parting with by precious iPhone 3 G.

But what will really trigger a conniption fit is if I, or anyone that resides in my home, gets another Alexa, Echo or other subversive spying device. I hate those things and know they’re ground zero for world-wide robot domination.

The other night I was home all alone, my husband was a thousand miles away in Washington D.C., and as I’m drifting off to sleep, I hear what sounds like a demented serial killer singing “Good night, Sherry” over and over.

At first, I thought maybe I was hearing something or one of my dogs had mastered the English language. But then I heard it again and again. I was now knocking at the Defcon 1 door of hysteria. My fist through was to flee the premises. But where was the killer? Was he or she waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs? I called my son for help who informed that was “probably Dad because he’s hooked up all the Echoes, so he can communicate remotely from his phone.” Are. You. Kidding. Me?

Yes, it was indeed my husband. Who, “didn’t mean to scare me” and “just wanted to say goodnight.” Whatever, because you not what I said goodnight and goodbye to – ever single Alexa/Echo in our home. Those spying robot overloads will no longer rule my domain and I’ll consider that the perfect Christmas present.

Christmas Crazy

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   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 lookicover_1-3-21ng 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. 🙂