I love Christmas. It’s without question my favorite holiday of the year. Christmas is that time of year when Laura Ingalls Wilder, Jimmy Stewart, and Norman Rockwell come together and create a beautiful backdrop for happy people strolling harmoniously through gorgeously decorated malls full of ribbons, hot egg nog, and carolers, with love in their hearts for all mankind. Young children squeal with delight on Christmas morning at whatever Santa chooses to bestow, while the adults present thoughtful, perfect gifts to beloved friends and family members at the bountiful dinner table, after thanking the Good Lord for another year together. Later, as the snow falls quietly outside, turning the yard in a winter wonderland, the family sleeps, secure in the belief of peace on earth, good will towards men.
Bahahahaha! I crack myself up.
In the real world (notwithstanding the Christmas decorations at Costco in July), Christmas really kicks off on Black Friday. Thanksgiving and Christmas have become “Thankmas,” when people get serious about shopping the Big Sales.
But interestingly, news channels report that the past few years of record sales during Black Friday weren’t due to gift buying for friends or family. They were gifts for the shopper, who’s apparently willing to line up, with thousands of other like-minded people across the country, in freezing temperatures, for hours or even days, tossing Thanksgiving dinner with the fam in the “Who cares?? Never liked those people anyway, and besides, I’m getting me a big-ass 60-inch TV for HALF PRICE” pile, waiting for the doors to open, instantly inciting a stampede not seen since the government land grabs in the 1800s.
Unfortunately, over-enthusiastic sale shopping for oneself that maxes out your credit cards four weeks before the biggest gift-giving day of the year often requires some reworking of one’s original gift list. “B” list friends and even family are now getting cards only, to free up money for costly or required “A” list gifts. Many people simply scrap the entire list altogether, telling everyone “Christmas isn’t about buying things, it’s about spending time with the people we love” (which is endearing and believable right up until they see your brand-new 60″ flat screen and realize you shot your entire gift allowance on yourself. My suggestion? Go to their house until after the holidays.)
And then there’s the children. Christmas brainwashing for weeks in advance, with toy commercials designed to whip the under-10 set into a frenzy of “Mommmmeeee, I WANT THAT,” reaches fever pitch during Thankmas. You can’t change the channel fast enough, and it won’t matter anyway. Those commercials are on every channel. All. Day. Long. Your usually well-behaved, socially acceptable offspring rapidly becomes a non-negotiating, tiny tyrant, hanging out of the shopping cart, frantically trying to latch on to everything he’s seen on TV that he just can’t live without. Your “Christmas budget”? Yeah, you’ll laugh about that. In June.
Fortunately, this year Hubs and I don’t want or need any household items and the family has decided to buy only for the children, so I get to focus my shopping dollars on our two grandchildren without fear of irreparable damage to our piggy bank. My granddaughter is two, so she’s easy to please. My grandson, however, is seven and has quite a list. I assured him Grandma and Grandpa would give each item serious thought. He smiled and replied, “Well, I think it would be easier if you just got all of them. Then you don’t have to choose.” Kid, I like your style.
Then Toys R Us announced that they decided to stay open round-the-clock and until 10 p.m. on Christmas eve, with special sales from midnight to 6 a.m. They’re kidding, right? I’m sending advance apologies to the little guy, since the only thing his Grandma plans to be doing at 3 in the morning is blissfully sleeping, snuggled under the down comforter with a Chihuahua on her head.
Last week, as I was perusing young grasshopper’s list of holiday wants, it was obvious that I was going to have to get selective or offer up my car as collateral for a bank loan. This crap is expensive. X boxes, games, sports equipment, remote control vehicles. The difference between buying for a two-year-old and buying for a seven-year-old suddenly became very clear.
I promptly called my DIL and asked, “What’s the one thing he wants most?” “The Captain America bike,” she replied without hesitation. “Done” I said.
I might have been a bit hasty.
It’s been years since my son was a wee one and I’d experienced that determined-mother-finding-her-offspring’s-heart’s-desire for Christmas, and I’d forgotten the kind of focused determination it often took to produce the chosen item, particularly when it seemed that every child on the planet had the same wish list. A dozen phone calls later, I began to realize this bike had been sold out or was on backorder in every toy store within a two-hour driving radius. I cleared my schedule, charged up my phone battery, and got to work. Grandma was on a mission.
Several hours later, I finally found a store in an eastern state I can no longer recall, where the cheery salesgirl thought she might know how to get one in. “I can’t promise, though” she giggled, “so, you know, maybe you should just get him something else.”
I DON’T THINK SO.
Ms. Happy Pants and I had a serious chat, until she was clear that she either shipped me a bike, or I shipped her a disappointed seven-year-old on Christmas morning. Her choice.
The bike is scheduled to arrive December 22. Free upgrade to expedited shipping.
Sometimes Christmas needs a little less Norman Rockwell and a little more Grandma.