by Mary Gulivindala
“I have no desire to suffer twice, in reality and then in retrospect.” — Sophocles, “Oedipus Rex”
I didn’t want to write this article to submit before Christmas in case my boys read it. I didn’t want to spoil their fun. The truth is they don’t read the Local, even the issues that contain my articles, or anything else if they don’t have to.
Buying Christmas presents has always been a stress-free holiday experience for me. I’d buy all my gifts on Amazon.com and get them shipped where I wanted them to go. For example, when my kids were little ones, I would have the presents shipped to my mom’s house. I wouldn’t get busted, and they wouldn’t see that their toys and the magic of Santa came from ME. At that time I cared so much, and still do. In my younger parenting years I bought all the “have to have” gifts like the “Tickle Me Elmo,” so all their little Christmas wishes would come true. Actually, that year was stressful.
My sister always told me, “Little kids, little problem, big kids, big problems,” and I was like “yeah, right, I have toddlers” But as usual, big sister turned out to be right. Times are tough financially for so many people these days, and I claim my stake in that line. Christmas gifts were not in my budget this year.
I continually brainwash my children that the real gift of Christmas is “the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ,” which is true, and I’d say it in those exact words like a broken record. Christmas is not about gift-giving; it is about Jesus! They’d get that, but they want “stuff,” too. Big kids, expensive presents.
I ventured out into the perils of Christmas shopping this year and went to Target. There is not enough money in the world to have this elf drive to the King of Prussia Mall or any Mall, for that matter. Amazon and Target, that’s it. As I stood around doing one of my favorite things to do, people-watch, I could see the stress on the younger mothers’ faces. There they were in the toy isles with their carts overflowing with expensive plastic junk. I wanted to give free counsel and say, “Don’t stress, put that back; in two days that toy will be history,” but I didn’t. Let them celebrate as they wish. I was quite entertained walking down memory lane.
This year I had no choice but to be frugal, astute and talented in my gift giving. At least I tried to brainwash myself into believing my plan of gift giving would be received with great joy! I bought my boys mostly things they needed but did not want. It’s killing two birds with one stone. (I hate that idiom. Forgive me, birds.)
My first trick, the WOW factor under the tree, was the big box. Adults know good things come in small packages, but at 11 years old, a big box is AWESOME! I bought my son a foam bed topper, and it came in a BIG BOX. He did WANT this and asked for it, so that gift is a score. The size of the box is my gift to myself. I also bought him a bed pillow. I could not wait to see the joy on his 11-year-old face when he opened that; whoopee a bed pillow! It, too, was wrapped in a big box.
I have a 15-year-old who plays golf. He wanted a new set of clubs. I said “I can’t buy you a new set of clubs; how about one club?” I was just stalling here. My research showed that the one club he wanted cost close to a thousand bucks! Are you kidding me? Even if I had that money, there is no way in hell I would buy him that.
THAT IS NOT THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS; THAT IS THE MEANING OF THE PGA TOUR! It wasn’t even an option. I know golf means the world to him, so I did find him this golf game where you throw dice on fake grass. There are your clubs; Merry Christmas. I texted my sage older sister and asked if batteries were an appropriate stocking stuffer for kids. She told me “I stopped doing stockings when they were little.”
My major gift to the boys was an electric heating blanket. More than once we have lost our electricity during storms, so if that ever happens again, Santa has it covered. As long as my electric is paid up.
I also ingeniously have convinced my kids over the last two years to consider the Christmas tree a gift because it is! But my son’s boyscout troop sells them starting at $60. Hello?
We are starting a new family tradition. Now that they know I’m Santa, I told them the day after Christmas, stores cut prices by at least ½ off, so we would go Christmas shopping then.
Do I feel bad? Sort of, but the reality is the reality, and my kids know it. What is that reality? Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. He was homeless, and we have a home. All the rest is just clutter, played with and forgotten. Not the true meaning of Christmas.
So a belated Merry Christmas to you and yours!