Every year, my sister & I undertake the yearly trip to visit our parents five hundred miles away. Most times we drive (actually, I drive as my sister does not). The first half of the trip ends in spending the night in a motel - and then I drive us the rest of the way in the morning. This trip usually takes place in October, mainly to take advantage of decent weather (they live in Oshkosh, WI - have you EVER experienced their winters...!?!?!?!???) and to get a "freebie" federal holiday. Working for the federal government, I try to take advantage of those holidays and work time off around at least two of them a year. To save a little on postage, we take our Christmas gifts with us - and leave them with the folks to distribute to each other and to our brother & his wife on Christmas morning.
So, this afternoon I spent three hours shopping with my sister in preparation for our October trip.
Christmas shopping is a very serious endeavor. One either finds THE perfect gift - or settles for something else - or as the patience wears thin - settles for anything. Where do these people come from that boast of loving to shop?? I have serious doubts about their sincerity. After thirty minutes of cruising the aisles, my feet begin to ache, my head hurts and everything on the shelf starts to look alike. After thirty-two minutes, I convince myself that anything put in the basket is THE perfect gift. After thirty-five minutes, I look for the shortest line and figure that a gift certificate added to the things in the cart will be just fine. Our parents have everything they could possibly desire ... how could we possibly get them anything they already don't have - or could get for themselves?
In retrospect, I think of how I start each new year with the same promise ... every Christmas present will be handmade - right down to the card & wrapping paper. By March, I start planning. By June, I buy just the right supplies for the project. August, I start the grand search of where I stashed those supplies. October, I finally find the supplies. By November, I've got a start on one project. December, I admit defeat and start attacking the stores. This is probably THE main reason why I came up with the idea in our family to exchange names among the adults for Christmas.
I think this year will be different. Every Christmas present in 2007 will be bought by Easter. I think I can handle that one. I'm sure if I'm careful enough, the gift I buy around Easter time will be just fine for the name I get in the name exchange sometime in October or November.