Each Christmas season, I am initially filled with hope, and then with despair.
The hope is that I’ll find the perfect gifts for everyone on my list, and every year, I’m convinced that this will happen. Once the Thanksgiving dishes are washed, I sit down and think about each loved one as I scan my inbox, which is suddenly flooded with Christmas sales offers. “Free shipping!” declares one vendor. “75% off” cries another. “75% off AND free shipping” shouts a third. With these kinds of deals, how could I not find something?
I click the first link and browse through the many items, my brain soon overloading with the vast selection before me. With so many choices, I’m frozen with indecision. Perhaps I’ll have better luck at the mall, with its honest-to-goodness brick-and-mortar stores and tangible products.
I get in my car and drive over, bypassing the hip new stores I’m not familiar with and heading for the name brand department stores I rely on. As I walk past the row of kiosks in the middle of the aisle, a woman wants to talk to me about my hair and how she can improve it. I give her the slip, detour around the cell phone hawker, and practically strain my neck trying to avoid eye contact with the woman attending to the calendar kiosk.
With a sigh of relief, I slip into a store, glad to be through the gauntlet. But now I’m faced with crammed racks of bathrobes, teeming tables of folded sweaters, and shelves of toys squeezed into the aisles so that I feel like I’m wandering through a maze. Does my husband need new slippers or maybe a shaving kit? Would the kids like the cartoon pajamas, or are they too cool for that now?
After a half-hearted attempt to find something that really catches my eye, I leave empty-handed. No need to panic yet. Christmas is still a couple of weeks away.
All the same, I can feel the despair creeping in. What if I don’t find anything after all? What if I run out of time and resort to buying underwear and packs of gum for the whole family?
I know I’m being ridiculous. This happens every year and I manage to find gifts before the ever-present deadline. They may not be the perfect gifts, but I know my family won’t mind. After all, the holiday is about spending time together while we bake cookies and decorate the tree, not about the material goods.
With this in mind, I know my despair will turn to hope once more. After all, tis the season to be jolly.