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Economy Simplifies Holidays, or Not

December 10th, 2008

I must confess. When I hear the words “Christmas Season,” my gut response is not angelic rapture. Not heavenly choirs. Not even a very bright star.

Instead, my feet hurt.

“Not again,” they moan. “Not the mall.”

I try to convince them that this year there will be no obsessive shopping for the perfect gift. But they flinch.

“Remember the burnt orange scarf?” they say.

And I must admit that I do. Last year’s frantic search for the perfect scarf to match the sale sweater took us through at least 15 stores and unearthed a giant retail conspiracy. For every sweater on sale, there was a pricey accessory waiting like a long-lost cousin, to be found. Eventually it emerged, usually in an exclusive boutique, and with a price tag at least three times as much as the bargain it so perfectly matched.

This year, though, the economy could prove healthier for my feet than a pair of good orthotics. Instead of scouring the mall for bargains and their pricey playmates, we are drawing names and presenting the recipient with a single gift, preferably handmade and under $25. Whatever we save will go to charity.

“I love you more each day,” my husband said at this announcement.

“No one will really go by the rules,” our daughter said.

My feet took a wait-and-see stance. So far, we’ve made it through Black Friday with only a trip to a yarn shop. (I cannot divulge more in case my secret recipient is reading).

“How about stockings?” our daughter inquired.

“Santa has a huge inventory of trinkets to work with in the basement,” I told her.

“Re-gifting in the stockings?” she asked, eyes wide.

“Not exactly. Santa will simply redirect each item to a new recipient. The perfect recipient, I suspect.”

So far, the pickings for stockings are large. There’s the book of “mind-bending lateral thinking puzzles” that so far has not bent anyone’s mind or captured anyone’s imagination – a gift previously misdirected, no doubt. Also, the plastic bird that balances perfectly on one’s nose, with practice. And, of course, the dozen or so religious bookmarks rescued from my mom’s stash of Bibles and Jan Karon novels.

And to assure “something to open” under the tree, there is no lack of resurrected childhood art and pottery, term papers and musical programs, favorite books and letters scribbled to grandma from camp (“Hi, they make us write here every afternoon….”). Each child’s collection will reside in a giant, clearly labeled plastic tub under the tree, with careful attention to an equal share for each (more than equal for the touchy middle child).

With all this bounty, Christmas is sure to be simpler this year.

“Sounds like you’ll just be knitting and writing a check,” my husband observed.

“You’re getting wiser with age. Good thing since you seem to be getting a cold.”

I beamed and patted his hand. My feet reveled in a pair of cozy slippers.

No need just yet to announce I’d adopted a family for Christmas. No need to show them their wish list. No need to mention the doctor’s appointment. Who knew I’d be allergic to angora?

Copyright 2008 Pat Snyder

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