For the first time ever, I did all my Christmas shopping online. (Well, almost all: I note that I did go out of my way to buy a few things at a locally owned toy store that sells hand-crafted wooden toys whose earthy charm makes up for the fact that they’re kinda boring, mainly so that I could talk about how I patronize locally owned toy stores that sell hand-crafted wooden toys whose earthy charm makes up for the fact that they’re kinda boring.)
Anyway, the onslaught of packages has begun. With five kids, four parents, godchildren, a babysitter, and two preschool teachers on the list, the flow of brown boxes into this house has been endless. I mean, the brown delivery van is out in front of our house more often than it’s not. We thought about including the UPS guy in our family Christmas photo. We’re adding another room on to the house using solely the packing materials from all these orders. On the plus side, Amazon’s universal wish list functionality simplified everything, since I was able to collect all my ideas in one place over the year, and shopping at only a few online stores made it easier to stay within budget. For the first time ever, I think I can honestly say that I’m done with all my Christmas shopping before Gaudete Sunday.
You know what made Christmas shopping a lot easier this year? Realizing that I have issues with decision making. I actually do fine with choices like which car or house to buy; but ask me to select between the fried shrimp or the cheeseburger at a restaurant, and I’m borderline catatonic. (Earlier this year I thought about getting a book about it, but in a you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up moment, I couldn’t decide which one to get.) So anyway, I realized that in previous years, the reason I didn’t do my Christmas shopping until December 20 (okay, December 24) was because I was afraid to make the decision: What if I chose the wrong thing? What if I found something better right after hitting Confirm Purchase? Waiting until the last second made things easier, in that it removed the opportunity for regret: i.e., even if I did find the perfect item for my husband after settling for a mere banana suit, I could console myself with the fact that there simply would not have been time to get anything else.
The fact that all my Christmas shopping is already done is mainly due to making it my goal to get over my weirdness about decisions. Once I assured myself that it’s fine if what I’m buying is just my best shot at getting something the recipient will like, and perhaps not THE PERFECT ITEM THAT SHE SHALL TREASURE FOREVER AND EVER, getting the shopping taken care of was actually a breeze. (And, yes, pretty much everything in my life requires this much analysis.)
Since there are quite a few new folks here after Andrew Sullivan and Ross Douthat discussed my conversion story, I though I’d mention that I threw my $0.02 into the debate over at the Register.
I just love this catchy little song, which I originally heard on the MAD Christian Radio Show, which has an amazingly eclectic collection of music:
It’s by a ska Christian band called Buck. Who knew there were ska Christian bands?!
I stumbled across something with book writing that has been tremendously helpful, even if it is bizarre and nerdy: I’ve spent some time thinking of who a perfect “audience” would be, and I’ve written those people’s names on index cards. Each time I sit down to write, I pull an index card at random, and write as if I’m speaking to that person. The criteria for choosing these imaginary listeners was:
- It can’t be anyone I know well, since I’d be too likely to cut corners and not explain things they already know — thus all the names are those of celebrities, people whose blogs I follow, or friends I’ve recently met.
- They have to be people I’d speak to in a similar manner. E.g. It wouldn’t work if I had both Howard Stern and Queen Elizabeth on the list, since I’d speak to the two of them in different tones.
- I have to have some reason to think they’d at least be mildly interested in the subject matter. E.g. If I were writing a book examining the work of Henry David Thoreau, I probably wouldn’t include Snooki in my audience cards.
As crazy as it sounds, it’s been really helpful. There’s something motivating about having a specific visual for whom I’m speaking to, and switching out the names brings a fresh perspective to each writing session.
I just remembered that there is one person I don’t have a gift for. My dear cousin is coming to visit for Christmas, which is a big deal to me — we’re both only children, and we’re the two oldest grandchildren of our grandparents, and so he’s the closest thing I’ll ever have to a brother. I’d like to get him something meaningful, but what? He’s a super smart, super creative, atheist hip-hop DJ who lives in Brooklyn. Any suggestions for something I could get him would be welcome! (And I am going to go out on a limb and guess that he doesn’t read his cousin’s Catholic blog, and therefore I’m not risking spoiling the surprise here.)
In case you missed yesterday’s post, Simcha Fisher had baby number nine this week! You can get your gratuitous baby picture fix here, or read a Best of Simcha collection and/or contribute to a virtual baby shower gift here.
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