I go Christmas shopping with a list. It is a good list. It is a clearly written list. It identifies the people I need to buy presents for and beside each name are a couple of gift ideas… things I think they would like to find under their Christmas tree or in their Christmas stockings.
Eventually I will manage to purchase the items on that list, or at least reasonable facsimiles. But despite all my planning and self-instruction, I will also spend an embarrassing amount of money on things that will inevitably wind up in a yard sale box, the un-used bottom drawer of a dresser (the one that doesn’t open and shut properly), or the kitchen cupboard where all of the strange, purpose-less gadgets live.
The list of items I cannot stop myself from buying EVERY Christmas is long and includes:
- Christmas pajamas for my entire family. Usually red. Almost certainly plaid. (No one but me will wear them past December 31, but I will continue well into summer and eventually find myself sitting on the beach wearing a scarlet-hued cover-up that says “Ho Ho Ho” on the front and “I’ve been naughty” on the back)
- An insane number of peppermint flavoured and peppermint scented items including teas, chocolates, chapsticks, candles, skin creams, car deodorizers, and socks (yep… peppermint-scented-aroma-therapy socks are a real thing!)
- REALLY EXPENSIVE jars of gourmet condiments and sauces and pickled things that will be opened once then buried on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator behind the turkey. In mid-March I will follow the scent of mould and discover a line up of glass containers filled with fuzzy blues and smoky grays. Not wanting to spread whatever virus is undoubtedly fermenting within, I will guiltily shove them into a garbage bag and spend the rest of the day feeling bad about not recycling the containers.
- A locally produced wine or, worse yet, an “ice” wine that tastes like Jack and Jill cough syrup and costs as much as a bottle of Grand Marnier. The local wine will eventually be poured into spaghetti sauce. The “ice” wine will be re-gifted to my mother-in-law on some occasion. She will, in turn, re-gift it to a friend she doesn’t like that much. And the ice wine will live on forever, eventually crossing international borders, until it is finally consumed by someone in Britain – because they will drink anything.
- A 500-piece puzzle that will be half-assembled over the holidays. I will leave it on a folding table for most of January, dusting it occasionally until the cat finally puts an end to the torment by eating a corner piece. (Note: $500 vet bill if piece does not re-emerge in the litter box within 24 hours)
- Over-priced mittens for each of my children. They will go missing by the 28th… maybe the 29th. They will be replaced by Walmart mittens that will remarkably make it through the remainder of winter. I do not know why, but I do know that over-priced mittens are lost 200X faster than regular mittens. It’s a fact. Google it!
- A board game that I am certain my entire family will love. We will open the packaging on Boxing Day, argue about the rules for half an hour or so then give up and watch a movie.
- “Reading” socks. These are giant socks that do not fit into your boots, continually slide off your feet and set off static electrocution every time you touch another human being.
- Slinkies, Rubic’s Cubes, and some wooden version of tic-tac-toe. Entertaining for all of five minutes.
- Calendars with pictures of puppies, or kittens, or women saying quippy things about feminism or wine-drinking or both. They will be stuck up on our walls in January but no one will turn the pages so whatever puppy or kitten or feminist/drunk woman made it to the first month’s spread will enjoy 12-months of exposure while poor Feb-Dec puppies and kittens and feminist/drunk women will never be seen again.
There are lots more things… like Santa-shaped lollipops that no one eats… and bowls of nuts that are utterly un-crackable and end up in the compost bin at some point mid-February… and lottery scratch-tickets that might end up winning $2-$5 but never get cashed in.
(I am really starting to appreciate why my grandmother bought everyone socks)