As memories of Christmesses past drift through my brain, I can’t help but compare the pain levels associated with each passing year. No doubt, the holidays are definitely getting less painful as the kids get older. For those of you who are horrified that I would use the words “painful” and “holidays” in the same sentence, you win the prize for Biggest Yuletide Liar.
Before writing this, I re-read my blog posts from past Christmas seasons. Ouch. As much as I’d love to see those munchkins running through the house in their footed jammies, dancing around the room on Christmas morning, I must say that four teenagers (including three girls!) are much easier to shop for. There are far fewer meltdowns and mini-dramas during shopping excursions to crowded malls. I’ve only had to be escorted out by security twice this year.
I think the season is made easier because of lists. My scientific poll of three of my closest friends indicates that normal parents everywhere welcome a wish list from their children in the weeks leading up to the holiday season. Personally, our goal at Christmas is to supply the kids with the things they really want, or at least get as close as we possibly can. Some people I’ve mentioned this to think it’s terrible not to surprise one’s kids on Christmas morning. One parent who overheard me talking to a friend about Christmas shopping even had the nerve to say to me, “But where’s your Christmas spirit? That’s no fun! You’ve got to surprise them…let them think they might not get anything if they aren’t good!”
I actually got a cramp in my eyebrow from furrowing so hard when I heard those words. Because I was at a cocktail party, enjoying a cocktail, I zipped it. But my interior voice was speaking loudly and clearly: My kids are not four years old; they know the score. Plus, they might hurt me. They’re strong. Hey, the Santa era was fun while it lasted (not really), but let’s face it: all good things must come to an end, and by “good” I mean “punishing.” The convos about gifts and giving and receiving have transitioned from, “What are you hoping Santa brings you this year?” to “Gimme your Christmas lists. Everyone’s on my ass about getting their shopping done.”
On my side of the family, even adults exchange lists. Our lists don’t have open ended suggestions, like “kitchen stuff” or “tools.” We’re too practical. Our lists include links to the exact item, including color, size and number of batteries required. All the giver needs to do is click, and buy. This year I got an email notification on December 12th that my gift, a $100 gift certificate to _____________, would be arriving soon. Hmmm. That actually was a new one, but not far off the mark. One year, I was told what was in the box as it was set in my lap, before I could get it unwrapped.
Sometimes, we reverse engineer our lists, and just tell each other what not to buy, like this year, when my brother gave my mother strict instructions not to buy him clothes. He even went out of his way to tell me to make sure our mom doesn’t buy him clothes. So what did we do? My mom and I went shopping together and bought my brother clothes. We opened presents early to account for the fact that we all wouldn’t be together on Christmas, which led to another holiday tradition in my family: handing over receipts because we just don’t listen.
Just in case anyone is interested, here’s my Christmas wish list, in no particular order:
1. Subscription renewal to tranquilizer of the month club
2. Stock in feminine hygiene products manufacturer
3. Gift cards to DMV
4. Gift cards to Matich-Vukovich Insurance
5. A milk cow
6. Gift cards to BGs
7. Gift cards to local taxi service
8. More coffee
9. Some ibuprofen
10. A little ice water, please
Don’t forget: Let me know what you get me so that I can update my list periodically to keep it fresh for others who ask for it.
Wishing you and yours a painless holiday season!