I've always had a love/hate relationship with Christmas shopping. I actually enjoy going out and shopping for gifts for people. I love finding that perfect present. One year I got Matt a big set of art supplies. He has some talent, but he's never really developed it that much. I was so thrilled to find a unique gift that suited him. Another year I found the perfect leather coat for Stephanie. She had wanted one forever, and I watched sales and hoarded coupons until I got a great deal on it. Her squeal of excitement on Christmas morning was worth it all!
On the other hand, I've had my share of flops. Times when I've shopped and shopped and wracked my brain, but the present still came up short. A piece of clothing I never seen them wear, or a bag that I never see them use. We've all missed the mark a time or two, I'm sure.
I usually start my shopping in the summer. Hey, I have six kids! I can't afford to buy everything between Thanksgiving and Christmas! The Disney store usually has a huge sale of all it's summer stock in June or July. Since we live in Florida, stocking up on summer t-shirts and pajamas is a good thing. I also buy their socks--they make great stocking stuffers. As I see stuff that might work as a present, I pick it up little by little. Of course, then there's the problem of remembering what I have. I usually try to make sure all the kids have the same amount of gifts. But sometimes I end up having to combine a couple of things into one present to make that happen. Occasionally I'll have to split a set into two parts to make an extra present. But somehow by Christmas Eve it all gets sorted out.
Wrapping all these presents is another chore in itself. As the kids have gotten older, they've helped, but ... if it weren't for my friend, Tammy, my kids would have no presents to open. For several years I made a point of storing all my presents at her house. My closet is only so big, after all. Then I'd go over one night and we'd spend hours wrapping everything. My last year in Alabama, Tammy wrapped most of my presents herself. Then she invited Stephanie over for an evening, and they got the rest done. I'm really spoiled, aren't I?
Well, this year I've done very little shopping at all. We decided to buy one gift for the family, and then the rest of the presents would be things that are needed like clothes and shoes. So I've picked up a few of those things as I've been out and about. I haven't stepped foot in a Toys R Us this year. Neither have I visited Books-a-Million. I can't remember the last time I've walked into a Kohl's. (I like that store. I should probably rectify that problem soon.) And while I've appreciated that I have less on my plate because of our present this year, still I kind of miss it. At least, I did until this evening. When I got off work I had to run and pick up a few things. Traffic was horrible. Stores were crowded. Parking lots were full. (I thought we were in a recession?!?!?) And now I'm just glad that I've avoided most of that this year. It's been nice for a change.
Now, about those after Christmas sales ...