Thursday, November 30, 2006

Off the To-Do List

I am that much-maligned person who sheepishly raises her hand when people sarcastically ask, “Who the heck is finished with Christmas shopping by December 10?!” I usually shrug and mutter that I hate dealing with crowds, which is true, but that excuse doesn’t hold much water. I confess that this year has topped all others; this is the first time I’ve finished before December even darkened my doorstep. Ow, stop throwing things!

The truth is that I like to cross things off my list and be done with them. With the wonder that is e-commerce, the “Christmas shopping” bullet can have a big fat check mark next to it in a short time. It doesn’t have to include circling through parking lots and wandering through malls with aching feet and bulging shopping bags with the wish and hope and prayer that the really perfect gift is just…at…the…next…store… Maybe it’s just me, but finding a perfect gift at a mall is not nearly as satisfying as seeing “Out for delivery” on a delivery tracking website.

I’m also motivated by the fact that, this year, JG and I are hosting Christmas with my family and it is a momentous occasion on a few levels. Most immediately is the oh my goodness I’m hosting Christmas freakout wherein I hope everything is good enough for my mom (and even more so, my grandmother). It’ll be the first time in at least 25 years that Christmas has not been celebrated at my grandmother’s house in New York. The pressure is on, and as a result, I don’t want to have to think about what everyone has under the tree when I have more pressing issues like what everyone is eating to worry about. Plus, JG’s birthday is in mid-December, so it’s really like multi-tasking. Two occasions with one click!

Anyway, this type of behavior is not solitary; I’m not buying presents for myself here. I need lists from my gift recipients, but my family is reluctant to dive into this winter ritual. They say to lead by example, so in early November, I sent out the following e-mail (with my list attached) to my parents and sister:

Hi Everyone – I don't know if this is jumping the gun, but since I'm starting to figure out what you all are getting for Jesus' birthday, I figured it might be helpful to distribute The List. So, it would be great if you could return the favor and let me know what you're in the mood for this year, too. Or if you've heard what other people want, too. Thanks!

The timestamp on the e-mail was November 7, which I know is ridiculously early. But hey – I needed to get my gifting spreadsheet in order. How do people shop when they don’t know what they’re looking for? Presently, I received responses from my sister and dad:

Sister: You did not just use the phrase "Jesus' birthday". You did not! Why don't you calm your happy butt down about these Christmas list things? You're starting to stress me out. I will consider this list in my shopping excursions.

Dad: I am working on my list. ETA is 27 Nov 06.

That’s right. My engineer father gave me an estimated time of arrival for a freaking Christmas list. Ah, the family.

Despite grumblings and groanings about “jumping the gun” and being “out of whack”, I clicked my final Submit Order button on Monday. And it felt great.

When all of those lovely packages arrive from various warehouses around the country, I’ll be waiting with boxes, paper, and ribbon in hand because I love wrapping presents. While I’m thinking about that, it might be accurate to add that to my list of reasons why I shop so early…

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