By: Lynda Hollenbeck
Every year I say I won't do it again.
I won't be that last-minute shopper out there trying to become creative and thoughtful after all the Martha Stewart-like, organized people have picked over the finer-but-cheaper things that would have put a gleam in the eyes of my loved ones.
Truth be told, there are some things that can't be changed. Things like peanut butter will always stick to your teeth; lipstick won't stay on your lips when you need to look your best; the towel you toss over the shower rail and barely catches hold will fall into the full tub of water before you can save it.
That's the grouping into which I fall. I'm gonna be out there the last week, the last day, sometimes the very last hours before Ol' St. Nick is ready to make his visit.
At this writing, I have some ideas about gifts, but have purchased only three. That's precisely three more than I sometimes can boast of at this time of year. My intentions to get it done early are good, sometimes even valiant. They just don't transcend into reality.
My late spouse always tried to help me. He would buy extra generic presents to have on hand "just in case you've forgotten someone."
He knew me well and was pretty certain I would have forgotten something, maybe several somethings, and would be tearing out to whatever place is still open Christmas Eve afternoon to finish my shopping.
I frequently pointed out that one basic commodity could have altered the whole picture: If I had had unlimited funds, I could have simply make a list of people, written an item or two by each name and hired a personal shopper to do my shopping for me.
I have fond memories of my mother making many long-distance calls to the "personal shopper" at Goldsmith's in Memphis. Listening to her end of the exchange, it sounded much more like a chatty visit between two old friends than a business transaction.
Actually, there have been a few times in my life when I've bought individual gifts WAY AHEAD of the season. I had seen something that I deemed to be absolutely perfect, maybe as early as July, and I just knew it would generate some real enthusiasm in the one destined to get it. I actually bought the item and told myself that, in doing so, I was turning over a new leaf. I could feel â€” practically see â€” a holy aura emitting around me ...
And then I would forget all about it. What a letdown when I would run across this unwrapped gift in its nesting spot in my house about mid-February. The intended recipient never saw it.
I have yet to re-discover a 2000 cat calendar I bought in late 1999 for my son Paul. I got it at the time I purchased a gift for his birthday, which happens to fall on Nov. 21.
I remember putting it somewhere in the guest room and telling myself not to forget to add the calendar to the other gifts I would be mailing to him before Christmas.
As God is my witness, I bought that calendar. Each month's page had a picture of a funny cat. Cats doing silly things that only cats can do and some talented photographer had been fortunate enough to capture the moments perfectly.
It wasn't where I thought it would be in mid-December, nor could it be found anywhere the last few days before Christmas when I was frantically trying to finish up the gifts to be mailed at the eleventh hour, via high-dollar service, to make certain they would arrive before Christmas Day.
Maybe one of my cats carried it off somewhere. That's about as logical an explanation as I could come up with. I never saw it again.
Conclusion: It's better for the world in general if I don't try to change what is, for lack of a better description, an unorthodox style. I might as well expect to shop late, be late, stay out late, sleep late, etc. You get the idea.
On a personality quiz I took a number of years ago, I was classified as an "abstract random." That pretty much says it all.
It seems apparent I wasn't made from a set of concrete rules. Or if that had been the Almighty's intentions, I'm inclined to think someone said, "Oh, Sir, we need you over here a moment" and something got jarred or left out of my internal makeup.
On Christmas Eve, if you need me, just look for the sadder-but-wiser gal out there with the last-minute shoppers. It's where I belong.
Lynda Hollenbeck is senior editor of The Saline Courier.