Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ah . . . Time to Myself (Spirit of Christmas Post # 4)

After a quick trip to Costco followed by some time viewing the Walter Anderson's indoor/outdoor train display, Jason and I dropped the kids off at their grandparents' and grabbed a quick bite to eat.

Then I took time for me. To be honest, the time wasn't just for me. I spent most of the afternoon scrap booking. I felt uninspired. I am in the middle of Marcie's baby book-- well, actually I'm at the beginning. This is my third time scrapping our trip to China, and I just didn't feel very creative. Lucky for me, I finished that portion of the book and next time I work on her album, I get to actually start in on her life in America. But I generally enjoy hearing the banter of the other women who scrapbook when I do. And today I ran into someone from high school who recognized and remembered me. This was the second time this week that happened. We chit-chatted about who we've stayed in touch with and what our lives are like.

After I finished up scrap booking, I headed to the mall. I was hesitant to do so. But I was pleasantly surprised. I eased into a parking spot without difficulty and wandered the entire mall-- in an out of stores, pricing gifts in my mind and trying to figure out what to buy Jason. I didn't buy much at the mall. I headed to one other store, where I did pick up a few items, and then I went to the grocery store. I couldn't remember what to buy for our Christmas meal, so I bought what I could remember and headed home.

When I finish this post, I will set out to bake MnM cookies for the bake sale at work tomorrow-- proceeds to benefit charity.

But before I sign off, grateful for a luxurious afternoon to myself, I feel compelled to comment on the state of gift giving. I love the idea of wish lists. They're nice for their suggestive value. Mostly they're useful if there are a lot of items of varying prices from different places. But I see wish lists that primarily look like this (and I'm guilty of this, too):

Gift card to . . .

And while it's nice to let someone know where you like to shop, and we all want the people for whom we're buying to like what we've picked out, I can't help but wonder if we're all just trading money. I understand why we make suggestions-- heck, I even posted lists for Casey and Marcie on Amazon this year to help avoid repetition and give our extended family ideas. There is comfort in knowing that what we've picked out will be welcomed. But Christmas used to be about the process of the giving-- getting good deals, thinking about what a person loves or needs or would enjoy. It used to be about giving a part of ourselves because it took so much of us to pick out the gift. And that seems a little lost now.

Not everyone is a slave to the Christmas wish list phenomenon, though. I have a friend whose family has decided to do theme-gift baskets this year, filled with items for an Italian meal. A gift that's required a lot of thought, and something their family builds together. And another friend of mine's family has decided that instead of giving things this year, they are all giving the gift of time to each other. They've each picked an activity to do with someone else-- so they might go to a ball game or on a walk or to a show. The gift is of each other, of friendship.

And while I'm not quite ready to give up on gift lists completely, this year I've decided to quietly and subtly boycott them, at least a tiny bit. I've really stretched myself to pick something for each person that they have not asked for, but which I think they'll like. I don't know how well-received my scheme will be. I'm hopeful my thoughtfulness will be appreciated. But just in case, I've also purchased something from each lists, so I think I'll be safe.

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