by Elise Seyfried
Attention, Black Friday Shoppers! You know who you are. Your idea of rip-roaring fun is lining up in the chilly, pre-dawn hours the day after Thanksgiving in front of Best Buy or Target or Walmart in order to snag the Door Buster Specials. You have a list on your iPhone, and you cross-check prices with similar Internet offerings as you barrel down the aisles.
You’re the kind that has every single Christmas present wrapped, labeled and ready to go a month (or more) in advance — and you always come in under budget. I admire your energy, especially if you are also the one who pulled off that ridiculous 27-course turkey dinner the day before. Kudos to you, as you staggered in your front door, heavy laden with shopping bags. Now you can relax for a bit; no?
Nope. It’s now time for you to craft the ultimate family Christmas card and accompanying letter, often titled “Latest from the Longabergers!” or “Ho Ho Ho from the Haberdasher Clan!” In past years, my mailbox would be crammed with the fruits of your labors for weeks ahead of December 25. You were the prescient one who thought to photograph your entire family on the beach the previous summer, dressed all matchy matchy in your white pants and blue denim shirts! The voluminous update accompanying this lovely picture would tell the glad tidings of weddings, graduations, vacation extravaganzas, new houses and new babies.
The alternative missive, of course, was the Epic Tale of Woe: “It’s been an interesting year. We lost Uncle Bernie in June. (He didn’t die; we just lost track of him.) An unfortunate blowtorch accident put an end to Mom Mom’s crème brulee business. Bob and I struggle along: cataract surgery, arthritis, psoriasis and dual hip replacements. Many fun-filled holidays to you and yours!!”
Nowadays, more and more of these masterpieces are sent via email or Facebook, and Mr. or Ms. Post Person doesn’t have quite so much to do. But you still manage to far outshine those of us who lost our Christmas card address list back in 2003 (that would include yours truly) and haven’t sent a Yuletide greeting since.
I come by my planning-averse personality naturally. There’s the oft-heard family story of my poor sister Maureen’s sixth birthday, Saturday, Nov. 23, 1963. Mom tended to wait and hit the stores on the birthday itself, and as that was the day after JFK’s assassination, every store in New York City was closed. Sad as we all were about that tragic event, little Mo was sadder still, with no gifts to open until the following week.
I don’t wait quite that late to shop, but I come pretty close. And on the rare occasions that I do plan ahead, I can never remember where I hid my finds when it comes time to deliver the goods. (This just happened the other day, as I scoured the house in search of a gift I had bought for daughter Julie at her favorite Rehoboth boutique last summer.) So it may be for the best that my holiday shopping doesn’t occur too far ahead of time. My formula for success? Sending husband Steve out to the mall every Christmas Eve with a list (he doesn’t mind — or so he says), and, of course, the blessing of Amazon Prime. “Want it tomorrow? Order in the next two hours and 47 minutes,” and there I am, frantically entering my credit card numbers, two hours and 46 minutes later.
So I hope you had a ball on Black Friday, über-organized friends! Enjoyed the crazy crowds, the thrill of the chase, the satisfaction of a job well done? Good for you! I was sitting right here, idly scrolling through your perfect Turkey Day family photos on my computer as I realize we forgot to take any! Fun-filled Holidays to All!
Elise Seyfried is Director of Spiritual Formation at Christ’s Lutheran Church in Oreland. She is also an actress, wife, mother of five and co-author (with husband, Steve) of 15 plays for children. Her recently self-published book, “Unhaling: On God, Grace and a Perfectly Imperfect Life,” is a collection of essays, humorous but with a spiritual focus, based on her life as a mom and church worker. The book can be purchased for $15 plus shipping through www.eliseseyfried.com.