Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Getting My Act Together...

...or why I don't watch daytime television

             I had Monday off from my job in the wonderful world of retail. With Christmas only a few days away I had planned to use the time to “get my act together”. I made a discovery. It’s important when putting your “to do” list together on Christmas week that you be a lot more specific than “get your act together”. I got a few things accomplished, but I sure don’t feel together!
            One of the things I managed to get done was the wrapping. I gathered all the gifts, paper, tape, labels, etc. and plopped down in the living room in front of the Today show. I rarely have the TV on during the day. I might have it on when I’m ironing—but how often does that happen??? So the Today show had loads of ideas about Christmas—gifts to give, food to cook and ways to decorate.
            The first segment I saw featured two families who were each given $150 to pull together a festive dinner for eight people. It seemed like both families spent the majority of their budget on décor and the food was almost an afterthought. Clearly, these people are no relation to my family! One family only spent $75 on their decorations and dinner. Each person was given a cookie with his or her name on it—festive right? That served as napkin holder, place card, and dessert. They only spent half their budget and dessert was a cookie… ONE cookie. You call that a Christmas dessert? They had $75 bucks left over—hit the packie* and the bakery with the left over cash! Geesh!
            The next segment I watched was one in which someone gushed on and on about gifts you can buy your pet for Christmas. For real?  I love my cats but it seems to me that being a cat in a good home is already one of the best lives a creature can have. All your meals are taken care of, you don’t work (except for the occasional mousing but they really seem to enjoy that), and you spent half your time sleeping in sunny spots and getting petted. They need a stocking too? Bah! Humbug!
            Finally, someone whose title was “Lifestyle Editor” came along and talked about unique ways to wrap oddly shaped presents. That really caught my interest, because every once in while tips like that can be really helpful. Her first idea was a large barrel-shaped container in which you can “wrap” a kid’s bicycle. A bicycle? Wrap a bicycle? Whose lifestyle was she editing anyway? I clearly remember the first bicycle I got as a Christmas present—it was a royal blue Schwinn. I was probably in second or third grade and I was thrilled. Unwrapping it wouldn’t have made it any more special. Not to mention the fact that the container she was wrapping it in costs forty dollars. In my lifestyle, forty bucks is the cost of an entire gift. Here are some other uses for forty dollars: two hard cover books, several bottles of wine, classroom supplies for your kids teachers, Godiva chocolates for the bus driver, a chili dinner for twenty of your closest friends, two nice Lego sets (or one awesome one), a nice bottle of whiskey, two $20 gift cards to Dunkin’ Donuts for the mail man, or a half-hour massage for someone who has been wrapping gifts all day.
            I turned the TV off after that. I’ve come to the realization that the last thing I need a couple of weeks before Christmas is more ideas. I’ve already come up with enough things I’d like to do but won’t have time. I hate to sound like a Scrooge, but Christmas is wonderful enough without making yourself nuts. Christmas is a time to see people you don’t get to see all the time and indulge in a few once-a-year treats. It isn’t a time to make yourself crazy trying to please everyone. By the way, I got a bike for Christmas this year myself. My company gave every single one of its thousands of workers a mountain bike. It didn’t come wrapped and it needs to be assembled and it was an awesome gift.

*Translation from New Englandish: Liquor Store