For the first time in as long as I can remember, my Christmas shopping was all done early. My husband and I were able to go together while the kids were in school. We spent a couple of leisurely days in town going from store to store together. We strolled the aisles, picking things up and looking at them, weighing our options. We discussed our purchases and potential purchases over lunch.
This is a far cry from the majority of our marriage, during which time only one of us could go shopping because the other one was home with the kids. In those days, one of us – oftentimes my husband – would head to the store while the other – usually me – would occupy the kids to keep them from wondering about Daddy’s disappearance.
Inevitably, my husband would call me from a store to ask me what color, size or character should be purchased for a child’s particular wish list. I would reply from the discomfort of the closet (that being the only space in the house where I ever found respite from my children. Even the bathroom is community property.).
I would whisper furtively into the phone the instructions that I gave him before he left that became understandably confusing as soon as he stepped into the first store. Mind you, we didn’t buy our kids everything that they wanted for Christmas, but we tried to get them at least one thing from their list that was exactly what they asked for.
“No, she doesn’t want the dolly that laughs and cries,” I would quietly insist. “She wants the dolly that cries and wets its diaper. No, not the one in the blue dress, the one with the polka dots on it. And it should also come with a bottle. A baby bottle. And it should match the dress. Got it?”
Then, on Christmas Eve, I would be up late wrapping said gifts. We wrap lots of little gifts – like boxes of candy, fuzzy socks and DVDs – to prolong the gift experience without having to actually remove one of our arms or legs to pay for it all. Our method does require an awful lot of wrapping paper, tape and time. None of which I typically have enough of on Christmas Eve.
So this year, we did the shopping early. We had a nice, relaxing time together. We got the gifts chosen, home and hidden before the kids got off the bus. We even bought extra wrapping paper. I was so proud of us!
But pride goeth before a fall, they say, and I just realized where I stumbled: I have still wrapped nothing. I kept telling myself how much time I had left to wrap, how too much time under the tree means the kids can figure out what they’re getting, and that the cat or dog could damage the packages.
In short, I waited too long. And now, Christmas is upon us, and I’m not ready. So think of me, fellow procrastinators, on Christmas Eve. Pray that I have enough patience to see it through. Pray that I don’t run out of tape. Pray that I don’t lose the scissors.
Oh, who am I kidding. Just pray that I can stay awake longer than my kids.
Laura Zoeller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.