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News flash people . . . Christmas is one week from today. Sorry. Somebody had to break the news to you. So it might as well be me.

At 11:43 this morning, Pacific Standard Time, I finished my Christmas shopping.

Jealous?

Don’t be. I had it easy this year. We don’t exchange gifts anymore with my side of the family and we draw names with my husband’s side. That was handled zip-zap in one trip to the mall.

My husband, kids, and I are going to Vail for Christmas. Ergo, no Christmas tree this year to strap to the top of the car, stand back while my husband swears as he puts the lights on the tree, and then decorate it by myself while I wonder if I married The Grinch.

I did take pains to decorate the house though and it looks all Christmas-y around here. I put out three Santas. Viola! 2.5 minutes later, I was back to eating bon-bons.

Since the kids have not been in the same state, let alone city, at the same time this year, no family photo was embarrassing cute enough to put on Christmas cards unless we Photoshopped someone’s head in. We’ll capture a pic while in Vail and for the first time in my married-career, I will issue a Happy New Year card by June or July of 2013. Hey, I’m a busy gal.

Parties weren’t a problem this Christmas season and didn’t tie up my social calendar with loud Christmas sweaters, appetizers lovingly created by Sam’s Club, and one too many highballs. We were invited to one, count ‘em, one party. You can see we are on the must-not-invite-to-the-party list around here.

Since the cost of the flights, car rental, condo, meals, and lift tickets will add up to the gross domestic income of a developing country, we told the girls they ain’t gettin’ nuttin’ else for Christmas.

Well, that isn’t exactly true. We’ve traveled to exotic places for Christmas several times. It is now a tradition to draw names out of a hat (or ski mask as will be the case this year). This ritual takes place on the first night of the trip over a beer (for kids and husband) and a bottle of wine for me. We started this tradition when the kids were six-, eight-, and ten-years-old and Child Protective Services was called in. Some people don’t have a sense of humor.

The rules of the interfamily gift exchange are thusly:

Appropriate dollar limit is imposed out of deference to broke children.

Presents must fit into the overhead compartment.

Gifts must be of the souvenir-ish type, i.e., if in Hawaii, gifts must reflect the Hawaiian culture, heritage, and traditions. Nothing says Christmas better than a Don Ho CD.

Gift purchases must be made while the intended recipient is in the store with you. We like to reinforce stealth and cunning in our children.

Wrapping the gift must include ingenuity . . . Christmas-themed paper is optional. One year, my gift was lovingly ensconced in an empty beer box. The one roll of wrapping paper we bought was used up.

Gifts are to be gently placed under the fake ficus tree in the corner of the condo while eggnog is swilled and we listen to Christmas carols through iPod ear buds placed in the middle of the room. If the volume is on high, you can almost make out the words.

I am in charge of filling everyone’s stockings. For Pete’s sake, how else are my children going to get a new toothbrush?

Before you start calling me “Bah Humbug Coyle” behind my back, I love Christmas and all of its trappings. But it is nice to let go of the tinsel and bows from time to time and have a different kind of Christmas.

Let me leave you with a quote from my favorite Dr. Seuss character, the irascible Mr. Grinch.

“It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

The best Christmas present I am getting this year is being all together as a family for the first time in one year. I can’t wait for a group hug.

Queen's Christmas tree at Windsor Castle 1848,...

Here we are rockin’ around the condo’s fake ficus tree. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What holiday plans have you? Are you finished shopping? Are you ready?

 

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