17 November 2007

It's a Good Thing They Had Those Smelling Salts...

And so, the season I dread is upon me. Christmas.

I used be wild about it. I used to love the tacky decorations and the music in October and trying to figure out what to make or buy everyone. I wanted to sing carols and go to festive parties and be in the ubiquitous Christmas play. The cleaning, the decorating, the baking and wrapping frenzies were exciting and joy-filled.

Now it all just exhausts me and overwhelms me. I don't know when the change came or how the bah-humbug crept in. I'm not sure if I'm just more disgusted now by all the commericalization or if I'm tired of feeling "obligated" to buy/make gifts for family members who need absolutely nothing. Shall we get Uncle Pickle Nose (the girlies call him that) another golfing gag gift? I know, let's get the folks a "Cat-opoly" game. It will look perfect next to their "Maine-opoly" and their "Daytona-500-opoly", neither of which they ever play.

It's stupid.

But we love them all, we really do and I feel awful if we don't get them anything, you know? We did try a few times to talk my in-laws and Pickle Nose and GrammaJ into a no-gifts-let's-just-get-together-and-make-memories celebration. We also tried the let's-just-figure-out-how-much-we-would-have-spent-and-give-it-to-a-worthy-ministry approach.

Both attempts went over like a turd in a punchbowl.

Grammy and Grampy want to buy us socks and jammies and unique kitchen doo-dads and power tools. Uncle Pickle Nose would feel horrid if he didn't get his little brother a shirt and me a sweater from JC Penney's. My Mom would be heartbroken if she couldn't get Mulletman a toy car or give us our fifth set of pedicure tools or be able to listen in breathless wonder as I open my extra special gift of gaudy jewelry that I'll never wear. And they'd all be horrified to even consider not buying loads of goodies for the girls who really don't need (or want) anything.

And I'm just too darned nice to let them do all the giving and then Mulletman and I get in a stew over what to get them or make them and how much to spend and we're both in sour moods because we have no ideas and then it's almost Christmas and we still haven't got any gifts and...ugh. And then I make or buy something stupid just so we have a gift for them and they try to smile and say "thank you" but really they hate it and wonder what we were thinking and...yeah, you get the picture.

OK, truth be told, some years haven't been all that bad. We've had terrific ideas and/or planned ahead and felt rather pleased with how it all worked out. But this year we're just drawing blanks across the board.

I have one stocking stuffer for Funsocksgirl (and she's gonna LOVE it!) and we have a vague idea for one more gift for her and the J-Man.

Scout? Not an inkling. Heck, we don't even have his address or phone number. (Insert lots of irritated mother grumbling here. I'm about to demote him back to "Bonehead".)

The Folks? Absolutely no idea except for Grampy's birthday (He and Grammy both have their birthdays within a week of Christmas). He specifically requested that I make a little pillow for him to carry with him to use behind his back when he's waiting in Dr's offices etc. That's a done deal.

Uncle Pickle Nose? Clueless...and he's coming all the way from California to spend Christmas with us.

Mulletman? Everything he has expressed a desire for is over $500. Shall I get him a propane firplace space heater? A new speaker system for the stereo? a new refrigerator? (Oh wait, that would be for ME!) Actually I'm toying with an i-pod thought. That might solve some of our music crossfire issues... Never mind. I spoke before I shopped. I just looked them up online and while they aren't $500, they are still waaaaaaaaay more money than I'm gonna spend - even on my sweetie. Sheesh!

GrammaJ? Actually, she'll be the easiest one. She is poor as a church mouse and actually NEEDS many things. The only trouble here will be narrowing the list down to something manageable.

The Girlies? OK, here's a happy spot in the midst of all this holiday angst. First of all, we have two of the sweetest, most selfless little girlies in the entire civilized world (and no, Iam NOT prejudiced!). They rarely, if ever, ask for anything. This may be because we don't have a tv and they don't see those nasty greed inducing commercials, but I prefer to attribute it to their marvelously sweet and innocent Christ-like natures.

At any rate, they're so content with what they already have, that I could only think of one thing to buy them for Christmas...

*****Fade to this past Thursday *****

My mom, GrammaJ, wanted the girls to spend the day with her making Christmas decorations. They were going to string popcorn, watch badly animated Japanese cartoons and make green and red paper chains. This left Mulletman and I with several hours of alone time.

Mulletman: What would you like to do while the girls are with your mom?

Groovy: Christmas shop. I'd rather die than be caught shopping in the masses after Thanksgiving.

Both of us: UGH!

Accordingly, we went shopping.

Groovy: Any ideas on what to get the girlies?

Mulletman: I can't think of a thing. They are so sweet and so content and they really don't need a single thing.

Both of us: (smiling dreamily) sigh...

Groovy: Well, (fidgets nervously) I did have ONE thought.

Mulletman: Yes?

Groovy: (in a VERY small voice) What if we get them a hamster?

Here is where I was prepared to launch into my speech, the lecture I have given him at least a dozen times in the past 7+ years, the plea I have laid before him ever since the beagle catastrophe of '99, the discourse where I outline how important it is for children to have pets and how having pets would help teach the girls responsibility and how much the girls love animals and how grateful they'd be and how it wouldn't cost much because I still have all those old cages in the cave (a storage room in our garage) and how easy it would be to get rodent sitters if we choose to take a vacation and how we coud take the exercise wheels away at night if they got too roudy and...Mulletman piped up before I could even begin.

Mulletman: OK

Groovy: (stunned silence)

Then we actually went into a pet store.

Mulletman: Can you keep more than one hamster in a cage? I think the girls should each have their own, don't you?

Groovy: (no response because Groovy has passed out. It's a good thing the PetSmart associates had smelling salts!)

Anyhoo, at least one of our Christmas dilemmas has been very happily solved. However, Mulletman may have bitten off more than he can gnaw; it has been scientifically proven that a hamster is just a gateway pet...


I've made no progress on my novel over the past few days because (look out, here come the excuses) I've been busy and I've been struggling with a chronic tension headache. Today shall be the turning point. Other than making 4 pies and doing some housework, today is a free day.

Look out, Jason. That's not Gabe at the door, it's Sarah and she's a bit on the needy side. Look past all those piercings and black clothing and you'll be surprised at what you see.


Michelle-ozark crafter said...

Poor, poor Groovy! It is when I read posts like yours that I am almost glad Jack and I don't have family to worry about! LOL! No shopping to do except for the two of us and Katie of course, no family get togethers, no fighting the crowds to return things!

Marianne Arkins said...

YAY on the pets (though, as an aside... I know they aren't as cute, but rats make MUCH better pets -- they're friendlier, smarter and they bond with their people...Just saying).

My DD is the same -- she really doesn't want anything, and she has a BLAST shopping in Samaritan's Purse for the family (my in-laws actually refuse to let us get anything for them, and I love to buy gifts, so we compromise and donate stuff in their names).

Good luck getting something nice for all concerned! AND, good luck with your NaNo novel.


notcon4med said...

I don't know whether to faint with you or say, "I knew it was just a matter of time." Either way, Hooray! I'm with Marianne about the rats. I'm surprised you want hamsters and not rats since you've had them before. If you do decide to go with hamsters you need to know a couple things. The bigger the hamster, the more fun and more pet like. The littler they are, the more hyper and not interested in being handled. Getting out of the cage means one thing to them - escape! You'll feel like a hamster treadmill, passing one hand over the other while they RUN! The bigger ones are much calmer and more fun to hold, plus they are not so easy to drop! And about the idea of putting them on the same cage...usually stores like Petsmart have only one gender of rodents in each store, to limit the rodent population when buying more than one. Though you don't have reproductive issues. the problem with housing rodents of the same gender is that they fight, often resulting in death and even canibalism! Really! Interestingly, the worse of the two are female-female cagemates. Just a few tips from one who's been there.

As for Christmas...I couldn't agree with you more. John's parents have always sent us all shirts. Inevitably, the ones for the girls and me are always awful and not anything like we would wear. John always get a golf shirt and it's always fine. One year they actually gave us a gift card to a restaurant and we thought, "Yes, they are getting it!" The next year, we got shirts! Thankfully, like Michelle, we don't have any other family gift-giving stress.

Maybe you could get G & G a gift certificate to Olive Garden or F-Cafe.

Rita Loca said...

Your life is a novel!!!

groovyoldlady said...

Just for the records I LOVE rats and prefer them above all other rodents, so long as they aren't white ones. Those red eyes freak me out. But the girlies are a bit intimidated by them. Mice are too small, gerbils too insane. Hamsters seem a nice compromise. Besides their big sister has THREE hamsters, so the girls are a bit prejudiced.

We have more than one cage if it proves necessary. Heck, we have THREE cages so we could, in theory, match Funsocksgirl rodent for rodent.

However, they have some new fancy Hamster breeds that are more sociable where you can (or so they promise) keep several in one cage - all the same sex, naturally.

Well, no, actually that's NOT naturally.

But we're not ready to deal with any breeding yet!

Ceri Hebert said...

Oh, I'm on the same wave-length. We tried to do a secret Santa kind of thing one year but no one could stick to it-except for those of us who are financially challenged. This year is going to be tough.

Good luck on your NaNo and thanks for your encouraging words. I definitely won't forget the story. It has lots of possibilities. Actually I'm putting it aside for last year's NaNo, which I did finish, btw.

Dawn said...

I have to admit I'm with you to a certain extent. Every year lately it has felt overwhelming to decorate, even though I love ti end result. The shopping thing, I don't enjoy at all. And I'm not crafty in the least. I used to make stuff, but not since I went to work fulltime 14 years ago. So - I think it's gonna be a gift card Christmas, since we are leaving for Hawaii for our 35th anniversary on Dec. 7 and coming back the 16th. We have two birthdays on the 8th - daughter and DIL. Both need money. I'm getting a bit panicky!

Dawn said...

Me again - can you identify in some way the people in your lovely new picture show on the left?

Carole Burant said...

I'm so much in the same situation as you this year...although I love Christmas, I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to get anyone!!! I haven't started shopping because I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO GET ANYONE! Aaaarrggghhhh! Maybe just get everyone a hamster...there, that might do! hehe Anyway, I think the girls will love hamsters...we got Corey one when he was younger and he just loved it. xox

funsocksgirl said...


so i finally got around to reading your post and was SO EXCITED and jumping up and down!!!!!

:-D :-D


Anonymous said...

Me hate Christmas. It's true. I wish I could be more excited about it but all the gift-giving and pageantry diminishes the real meaning of it for me. This year the family and I are serving Christmas dinner in a homeless shelter. We did it a couple of years ago, expected it to be depressing, and found it was extremely joyful.

I love hamsters. Good luck with your Na No-ing and sorry about the headache.

Unknown said...

LOL turn in a punchbowl, new line for me and gross picture I might add! *gagging*

We've ahd hamsters before and funerals in our back yard, nuff said!

In all seriousness now Groovy, this is the second post I've read tonight expressing how we've come to feel "obligated" in our gift giving. How can we stop the cycle? My family has also tried the NO gifting experiment, but then Grandma says: "I just saw the cutest thing for you and had to get it!" Then I cave in and get something for her, then it grows, etc. Well you know the routine!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Anonymous said...

I know Jesus didn't mean for Christmas to feel like this. I'm really struggling with the Bah Humbugs this year.

We've thought of going to the homeless shelter to serve Christmas dinner, but that's really just an excuse to get away from difficult people. I need to go with a spirit of giving -- not looking for escape.

As for the hamsters, DO NOT PUT TWO IN THE SAME CAGE. No matter what they tell you at the store. I have one friend whose child awoke to find one hamster and one hamster skin. One of our hamster's killed the other's baby and kidnapped the corpse, and so badly injured the mother she almost died. (Both were female.) They're almost as bad as the people I'm trying to avoid for Christmas!

Good luck on the last few days for your novel.