Thanksgiving's gone. And though I'd like to weigh in on world peace or other culturally stimulating topics, I must turn my thoughts to the challenges of buying presents before the 25th. For me, part of pacing Christmas is the planning so that we, in fact, don't rush around. However, this is a tortured exercise, at least for my family, because we demonstrate just how lousy we are about giving and receiving gifts.
It seems easy to say "I'm great at receiving gifts! Just try me." But hold on. Who hasn't opened a package and heard the "whawhawha" music in their heads, forced a smile and began lying to prevent a relationship kerfuffle? You give a quick hug and immediately change the subject by inviting the next person to open a gift.
But I find the giving part even more difficult.
The usual questions fly: Can we get lists from people? How do we avoid doubling up between our two families? What's our price per gift? How many folks can we realistically cover on our budget? I married into a large family and we have the added challenge of at least 4 immediate family member birthdays in December, two more if we add close friends. It's an expensive month whether we spend a wad on gifts, or spend of wad of time weaving baskets from the heart (full disclosure: I've never woven; if I did it would NOT be with all my heart).
The problem arises around expectations. What do people expect to receive? Does the gift represent an adequate symbol of how much you care?