You can’t help but notice that it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Stores have been decked out in tinsel and holly berries since the day after Halloween, if not sooner.
They’re hoping you get the hint: shop early this year.
Everyone knows about the Black Friday sales dotting the landscape the day after Thanksgiving. Macy’s and Walmart are launching theirs at midnight, in fact, putting pressure on their competitors to do the same.
OK, I’ll admit, I’m feeling the holiday season heat.
So on the way home after picking the kids up from school, I glanced back at my son in the back seat and asked, “What do you want for Christmas this year?”
He squirmed a little in his seat, knowing it hasn’t been an easy financial year for us, as is the case with many Georgians.
In previous years, my kids would have piped up with a laundry list of items, blissfully unaware of the cost. Now that they’re both teens, and Mom has had to say no to “Can I have...?” more frequently during the year, they’re more circumspect about their requests.
My son quietly mentioned a computer program and a computer gadget, both within a reasonable price range. (He’d looked it up online, thinking to purchase it with his tax refund.)
He’s taking computer classes in high school and has mentioned an interest in computer programming, so it was a practical request, even though I knew he’d be doing more than his share of gaming with his gifts.
I nodded with a smile and shot a look at my daughter, who studiously examined her nails.
I chuckled and said, “That’s easy.”
“No, Mom, I mean the big make up kit. The one with like, dozens of eyeshadows in it and blushes and—"
I cut her off. “Your aunt and I got the same thing at your age. I know what you mean. It’s cool.”
“And...” She hesitated. “Maybe some perfume?” she added hopefully.
I gulped, thinking of the price of what I considered to be perfume.
“Like the Taylor Swift cologne, or something like that?” Big blue eyes looked at me with brows raised.
Her mom exhaled with relief. OK, not outrageous.
This could be a very reasonable Christmas, one accomplished a lot more quickly than usual.
Most years, I haven’t felt like I could keep up when it came to holiday shopping. The kids would go see Santa and give a list of what they wanted. Their father and I would warn them that Santa couldn’t bring everything, because there wouldn’t be enough room on the sleigh for what all the kids requested, like live ponies.
They’d solemnly nod. And two weeks later they'd have a completely different list, frustrating the heck out of their harried parents.
This year, they get it.
They mentioned clothes, a few accessories, and no specific descriptions. These are things they frequently get from their aunts and uncles and grandparents.
Nothing they want this year will drive their mother insane trying to find, like the year they wanted Tickle Me Elmo or Buzz Lightyear and mentioned it a week before Christmas.
When all the stores were full to the brim with people, and all the shelves were empty of coveted items, Mom came home cranky.
It seems the gift they really want for the holidays is heavenly peace at our house.
And to that, I say, "Amen."