After the Shopping

One thing that getting older has taught me is that I often become something I never expected to be. I began parenthood as a stay at home mother who devoted 90% of her creative energy to things which benefited the kids. I thought that was the best kind of mother to be. These days I’m a working mother who often lets her kids fend for themselves and I can see significant advantages to this way of doing things. I used to be a person who started making Christmas purchases in October and had them completed by Thanksgiving. It was all carefully planned and balanced. This year we are making most of our Christmas purchases within 4 days of that holiday. I always thought that sort of last minute scramble represented poor planning and resulted in over spending because of last minute stress. Yes going out shopping today put us into crowded stores, but I don’t think the expense was more. It may even have been less because during the planning years we kept picking up “one more thing.” Nor do I think that the conscious focus of picking gifts was lessened. Choosing a gift is the same emotional action whether it occurs two months or two days before the holiday. I didn’t understand that before, I was too busy carefully planning. Also by shortening the time between gift selection and gift presentation, the kids retain an emotional connection to the gift they are giving. This will not be a year when a giver has forgotten what is inside the wrapping paper.

This is not to say that carefully planning is wrong either. It would not surprise me to discover that my future holds carefully-planned-in-advance Christmases. This is the advantage to discovering that there is no one true way to approach Christmas, I’m free to choose whichever form of celebration best fits that particular holiday season.

The forays into the wilds of Christmas bustle were successful. It turns out that the necessary shopping was split across five people instead of just falling to me. Howard went out, Kiki went out, and I took both boys out. The only family member who did not go to a store today was Gleek. She happily conspired with me from the items I already had here at home.

It was interesting to go shopping with my two boys. They have a very direct approach to gift selection. It is kind of refreshing. They flounder, not at all sure what they should get until suddenly they know that the thing right in front of them is exactly right. Even if it is a thing I’m not certain about, even if I express that reservation, they are not dissuaded. They stick with their choices. I like seeing them decisive. And truth be told, I didn’t argue much. I’m trying to let go, let the kids do their own struggling, considering, and selecting. Kiki had a harder time. She reached a blitzed, unable to decide state. It was a full-bore option overload from which Howard had to rescue her. he did and they came home triumphant, if tired.

Yesterday, during the long shopping outing with Howard, I looked over at him and felt happy. We were out in the holiday crowds–something we try to avoid–and we were shopping last minute–also to be avoided–yet I felt happy. I was so happy to be part of a Christmas preparation team instead of trying to save everyone else from stress by doing most of it myself. At 2 am this morning I could not believe that the holiday would be good. Now I can. I’ll take that.