The clocks are all off in my house. It's impossible to tell what time it is. For example, I just set upstairs to put myself to bed because I thought it was well past midnight, Christmas indeed. But as I open my computer, I discover it's only 11:30. What's with the clocks in this house?
Earlier tonight I was scheduled to sing at the Christmas Eve service at my parents' church. 4:15 one clock read. "Mum, we've got to leave in an hour." "I don't think so, honey, it's just a little past three."
It's all a little off.
We didn't have to buy gifts for everyone this year. Well, mom and dad did because as Amy put it at Thanksgiving: "I feel bad about how much money we usually spend on Christmas, and ITE (in this economy) it might be better if we trade names and only buy for one person this year, except for mom and dad, because we'll still need presents from Santa." Poor Mike and Carol. But it was easier on the old pocketbook, as grandma would say, since I'm only employed as an almost-full-time nanny, but not quite.
And it's a little strange not buying presents.
I'm the sort of person who buys gifts all year long. Last year, in Chile, in May, I bought gifts for my mom and two sisters. If I see something I know someone will love, I buy it and store it away to give to them at a later date. And unlike my grandmother who will find presents she's stored in holidays past at the most inopportune time (usually way past the designated holiday), I actually give the gifts I've stored away. And I love that.
And I love shopping for people. Being clever. Buying what I think they'll like. Catering to personality, spiritual deference, and whim.
But this year I had one name. Well, two actually, since when I was "shopping" I had a boyfriend. So two. But two is much less than the usual number. And $50 for one person is much less than I usually spend at Christmas-time. But ITE... So the names were drawn.
And for the first time in a while, I didn't shop at the local Austin stores, supporting local business and picking out what's fun and unique. This year, I worried about practicality and buying my "person" what they might need, find useful, not what they'd think was sweet or cool or creative of me to pick out (and for them to promptly store in their closet). So truth be told, to get my person some of the things she had on her list, I went to Craig's List. Ebay. The Super Savings Sales. The Internet. Places I'd never shopped for Christmas items before.
My voluptuous pastor's salary always bought local, hand-made, or fair trade gifts. Rarely commercial America or (gasp) used items. But desperate times call for desperate measures and ITE, we gotta cut some corners.
I don't know if she'll love the gifts I bought. I don't know if she'll hate them. Hopefully the former, but who knows? The times are changing and as hard as I stare at the clock on my wrist or my phone or the microwave, it's becoming more and more challenging to disern where I am or what the times are callling for.
So this Christmas, here's to making the most of what you have, financially, emotionally, chronologically...? And maybe you, like me, have cut some corners here and there. But hopefully, you're making the most of the time and the resources you've been given. And for this, you will be very thankful.
Merrry Christmas. 2010.