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December 23rd, 2006

I’m not one of those people that can manage to do their Christmas shopping in October and be all done when the holiday rolls around. Starting too early leads to one of several scenarios:

I forget I bought the gift.
I forget who I got the gift for.
I forget where I put the gift.
I forget to mail the gift when it gets close enough to Christmas.

Facing facts, I have no concept of time. This is why I was in the post office, looking at next day, Express Mail boxes to fit the one gift I had that had been purchased over a month ago, that needed to get to Florida. My sister in law, suggested it, bought it, and was reimbursed for it. All I had to do was stick it in the mail.

My sister in law is a shining example of someone who is prepared for the holidays. She is bending my arm for a Christmas list, when I am still trying to find my Halloween decorations. She gives us their list, shortly thereafter. She shops the sales, she bakes the cookies and doesn’t manage to eat them all before December 25th.

I one of those people who is wandering around Wal-Mart about now, with a cookie crumb mustache and a dazed expression, swearing that everything would be better if the 25th didn’t keep moving around every year and screwing up my timing.

I was done shopping, I thought. Last week, already. But, when I do manage to finish before the 24th, I become full of self doubt. Did I spend too much? Not enough? Get the wrong color? Wouldn’t it be better to have a reserve gift, a back-up, just in case the first one flops? Nothing expensive, of course, just a little something…

On my sister-in-law’s list for this year, was a steam iron. It was a no brainer. I went to the store she suggested for another gift, got a gift card, a gift for my nephew, and a steam iron. And two gift receipts to put with the gift card, so she could take the whole works back if I had done it wrong. I wrapped it all up, put it under the tree, and patted myself on the back.

And then I got to thinking. Which is a big mistake.

Steam iron?
A Steam iron is an appliance.
But she asked for it.
But it’s an appliance.
But it’s on the list.
But it’s a steam iron.

When she opens this on the 25th, is she going to smile and say, “Great! A steam iron.”?
or is she going to smile and say “Great! A steam iron,” but think “She got me a steam iron. Why did I ask for a steam iron? What was I thinking…”

Perhaps it was a trap.

Time for a back-up gift. Something girly.

When you live in a small town, you don’t have a lot of choices. The stores aren’t open in the evening. Not even before Christmas. I find this totally baffling. Last night at 8:00 PM, I wanted to do some grily shopping, and all the soap, paper, card, home decor shops were closed.

Wal-Mart? Or Walgreen?

There’s something about shopping a drugstore for Christmas gifts that lets you know you are hitting rock bottom and in need of a Christmas intervention. When you’re starting at the Chia Pets and thinking that Daffy Duck doesn’t look right if he’s made of terra cotta and sprouts? Then it’s a short stop to flowers from the gas station and total defeat.

So, it’s off to Wal-Mart. Walmart is full of prepacked gift baskets for pathetic losers like me.

Except, if you get one of those, you run the rick of the person you got it for saying, “Terrific. Wal-Mart. December 24th, right?”

Except my Sister in law probably wouldn’t because she’s never been in the desperation gift aisle in late December. If she is ever there at all, it is probably on December 26th to get non perishable gifts for next year, when she can get the best price.

My husband suggested I get a massager. But what needed massaging most, and which one was the best deal? What I needed was personal massager research. For a couple of weeks. And perhaps a cocktail.

No. No time for massagers.

What I wanted, was to curl up in a fetal position, under a blanket somewhere.

Blankets.
All washable throws. Fuzzy. (pet pet pet) Mmmmmmmmm. Don’t show dirt. Match her living room.

Don’t tell her what she’s getting.