I am usually not a braggart. It’s just not my style. I am more comfortable writing self-deprecating humor. Today, however, at the risk of alienating some of my loyal readers, I am going to brag.
Wait for it…Wait for it….HELLO! What do I have to do to get a drumroll?
(Tap, tap, tap, tap…)
It is the first week in December, and I have all my Christmas shopping done! (SQUEAL!)
I KNOW! CRAZY TALK!!!!!!!
Not only have I completed the onerous task of purchasing said gifts, I have wrapped about 90 percent of them as well. (Pat, pat on the shoulder.)
Now, I am not usually productive as such. Since having kids and when not in flight-or-fight mode, I work more like a three-toed sloth than an industrious ant. For some reason I put it in my head that I wanted all holiday preparations complete by Thanksgiving break so I could (1) really enjoy the Christmas season, and (2) meet a self-imposed deadline to complete the first round of editing my novel, another difficult task.
Operation Christmas Blitz
So Operation Christmas Blitz (OCB) was launched. I meditated to find the ninja elf inside me. And, to my surprise that sucker popped out with more energy than a college student hopped up on No-Doze during finals week. Not to sound like the big man in the red suit himself, but first I drew up a list—military style—that had details and precision, no casual Christmas shopper could touch. Sample from said list is below:
Christmas Card (due by October 1):
- Choose photo (something from summer when we all looked tan, fresh, and not burned out)
- Update address book (Where is cousin Larry living now?)
Wait for big sale at Shutterfly or similar website
- Upload photo and create card
Stuff Cards (due by November 30):
- Decide whether or not to send the form letter glorifying all my children’s accomplishments (NIX)
- Stuff, seal and stamp…(You get the idea)
Oh yes, I had deadlines–ambitious deadlines most of which I have not made because, well, because I have ADHD, and those with ADHD rarely are on time for anything. For my sanity, my mantra is “Close enough is good enough.”
Next came the List of Presents. When I showed my friends this list, beaming with organizational pride, I was disappointed to learn that not only did they not share my excitement, they wanted to commit me. Besides family, my list contained names of the following:
- Every teacher who works with my kids (believe me they need some reward)
- Every administrator (we meet a lot during the school for one issue or another)
- Every adult who volunteers with my children (e.g., Girl Scout Leaders, coaches)
- People who have been extra helpful during the year (e.g., doctors)
- Good friends
- Neighbors, and
- People in need (I sometimes send anonymous gift cards to them)
Yes, I admit it is an all-encompassing list, but no one gets left out. I believe that people should be recognized for the time and effort they give, even with a small gift. My friends cannot believe that I send a gift to every teacher my children have. Yes, that’s right the computer teachers, the music teachers, the art teachers and P.E. teachers are all included. I have done this every year. “How can you afford to do all of this? Are you moonlighting somewhere?” my friends ask. No. I am able to do this for several reasons:
How it’s Done
- I shop all year, starting the evening of December 25 when the basement bargains magically appear on the World Wide Web. Last year, I was able to purchase some nice scarves from Charming Charlie’s. I got a few $15 scarves for $3 that will go to some teachers.
- I primarily shop on the Internet. There are some wonderful sites out there that offer affordable gifts, and the first place I search on any website is CLEARANCE. You can pick up some odds-and-ends pretty cheap that way. (I will write another article on my favorite shopping sites later.)
- I shop off-season. I buy my kids bathing suits in December when Lands End has their best sales for that, and I get their new coats in the summer.
- I scour the CLEARANCE isles in places like the grocery store and Walmart. I may find a toy marked 75% off that is too young for my kids, but I buy it anticipating some child’s birthday during the year. And, if I have no one to give it to, I can always donate it to a local charity or put it in my garage sale.
- Starting in September, I try to buy one gift card every time I go grocery shopping. That way I am spreading out the cost over several months.
- I make any “food” gifts like cookies in a jar over Thanksgiving break. (This year I am behind because I had to get a root canal, and I got a wicked cold that forced this ninja elf to rest.)
- I make baked goods for neighbors once the kids are out of school. Annie likes to help bake and the other two like to lick the bowls.
Operation Christmas Blitz has been pretty successful this year. I am just waiting for a few items to dance on my doorstep so I can wrap them and mail off all packages.
I do want to warn my readers there is a price to pay. There is always a trade off.
First, I do not have a lot of closets and extra space, so I had to get creative about where to store these piling gifts (e.g., kids camp trucks, under beds). When it is time to wrap, my house looks like a paper factory exploded. I cannot wait to make deliveries because my house is bursting with wrapped gifts. Second, I neglected myself more than I should have, which means I put on a few pounds, forgot to refill some prescriptions, and caught a cold. Worse, since I have not exercised since the end of October, my body will have to go through the pain of restarting an exercise regime again. I guess that is the purpose of New Year’s Day.
There you have it—my secrets to a quasi-restful holiday season. Stay tuned to see how it all pans out over the next month. And, happy shopping!