So, here we are, little more than a week away from Christmas, and in fact only a week away from my heading down to my mom’s for the holiday, and I’ve yet to do a single bit of Christmas shopping. Normally someone who loves shopping, I think of Christmas gift shopping nonetheless as a horribly painful chore, perhaps the worst of the perennial stressors.
And I don’t even have to buy that many gifts, really: Jeff and I have agreed that we’ll buy something nice for the condo, an attractive, well-made piece of furniture–probably a dresser or chest of drawers for the bedroom, or both–rather than worry too much about individual gifts (and we won’t be together at Christmas anyway, it being a holiday of more importance to our families than to us); and my nephews prefer and will get cash, though I’m not so sure about the oldest, who just having sent me an invitation to join Falwell’s Moral Majority (hello, Matt, yes I know you’re reading this) might receive only coal.
That really leaves just three gifts I have to buy:
- My sister and brother-in-law, who keep telling me not to get them anything since I buy for their three kids, but since they’ll get me something even though I’ve told them for years not to, I’ll reciprocate. Anyway, they’re not particularly difficult to buy for.
- The member of my family whose name I got in the Secret Santa draw. I had suggested for years that my family stop giving gifts all around, and just draw names. They eventually took to the idea, with one twist; they still give to everyone, but the person whose name is drawn gets an extra. Sigh.
- My mom, aka the toughest person in the world to buy for. She has a number of rules: no candy, no tchotchkes, no perfume, no clothes (with the occasional exception of permitting me, whose taste she apparently doesn’t mind, to get her a holiday sweater, almost a tradition), etc. She expects something dramatic and unusual, yet practical. At the same time, if she wants something she goes out and buys it, so there’s nothing she really wants or needs come December. She doesn’t need money, and would consider a gift of money an insult anyway. But not giving her a gift at all would be at least as great an insult; she puts a lot of thought into gift-giving, and enjoys it, so she’s never able to accept that other people not only don’t relish it, but find it stressful and unpleasant, and she puts a lot of stock in what one gets her.
Last year, I offered to take her to London. Afraid of flying, however, she declined. This year I’d like to offer to take her to New York for shopping and some shows, something I know she’d like, but I’m concerned that it would be an inadequate gift from her perspective because there’s not really anything to unwrap, nothing physical to hold or show off.
So I’ll continue to stress over it a few more days, probably go find an unusual but attractive sweater again, buy her some roses, calligraph an invitation to New York, and hope it’s enough. And then sit back and wait for next Saturday to come and go so I won’t have to feel this stress again… at least until Mother’s Day.