This year I was determined to tackle the pre-Christmas list of things to do early enough to actually enjoy, rather than begrudge, the holidays.
I made the familiar list and checked it twice: order and mail the holiday cards, pick up and trim the tree, put up the decorations in, on and in front of the house, buy gift cards for the teachers, mail carrier, milk truck driver, and other service providers in my life, arrange for the family to see the Nutcracker, a holiday concert and a light display, visit a hospital, nursing home or shelter, buy the ingredients for, and prepare the big holiday dinner for 16 guests, bake and deliver cookies to the neighbors, and of course, buy gifts for the family and friends I expect to see the last week of the year.
All this and more (my nails, hair and eyebrows could certainly use some attention) is expected to be pulled off in a timely manner with grace, charm and a sense of humor.
Actually, most of the things on the list I enjoy doing.
Saying "thank you" to my sanity-keepers, teaching my kids the importance of giving back, and holiday baking with my husband, never fail to get me in the holiday spirit. It's that last item, the gift buying, that always threatens to send me into Grinch mode.
For me, holiday gift buying, especially for the adult members of my family, is a chore. What do you get for a mother-in-law whose favorite store is Neiman Marcus? Or for the sister-in-law who, while on her way out last year, actually handed me back the gift I got her?
Waiting for a parking space only to be out-maneuvered by a texting while driving twenty-something year-old, searching through a picked over pile of cashmere sweaters looking for one that would look nice on my sister only to find out I've been in the petite section for the last twenty minutes, finally getting to the front of the switchback, checkout line only to be told by the gum-smacking teenage clerk that it's time for her break, is not my idea of a good time.
Since I haven’t seen anyone wearing the tie-dye scarves I purchased from a kiosk in front of Target last year, I thought I would try a new shopping strategy this year – buy everything on-line.
With my slippers on and the kids asleep, I was able to get something for everyone, complete with gift-wrapping and delivery, in less than two hours.
I ordered an environmentally-friendly yoga mat and a pair of Iphone compatible gloves for my husband, art-inspired shopping bags made from recycled plastic for my in-laws, personalized gingerbread houses for my out-of-town relatives, and organic wines and coffees for my hard-to-shop-for cousins. A few minutes on www.youngexlorers.com and www.mindware.com for the kids' gifts and voila! - the shopping is done.
So why didn't I think of this earlier? Perhaps habit, perhaps martyrdom, perhaps my resistance to keep up with trends. My niece reminds me that I am the only person left on the planet who isn't on Facebook while my best friend tells me that the boot-cut look I'm still sporting is no longer "in". Who knows?
All I can say is, just wait til next year - I might get really crazy and send a “tweet” instead of a holiday card.