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Operation Holiday Shopping

November 11, 2013
I'm pretty sure we never even watched it

I’m pretty sure we never even watched it

Remember when you were a kid, and your parents took care of buying all the presents for various family members and friends on birthdays and Christmas? Those were the good ol’ days. Not only could you pick out a sweet birthday present for your friend and not even have to pay for it, but you didn’t need to worry about the stress that often comes with the annual barrage of consumerism we know as holiday shopping. Then, when I was a teen, and even in college, I endeavored to buy thoughtful gifts for my immediate family members, close friends, and boyfriend, but I think I still kind of had a free pass if the gifts I chose weren’t quite up to snuff. Take, for instance, Christmas 2008, when I got my boyfriend (now husband) a $5 DVD of some random movie (I think it was Jumanji) and a handmade “globe” I created by sticking blue and white tissue paper to the core of a softball in approximately ocean and continents-shaped globs. That, my friends, was thoroughly lame, but it didn’t stop the guy from going on to marry me. And, after all, the fact that I even remembered my mom’s birthday often earned me fav child status, since my younger brothers were usually clueless.But now, in my mid-twenties (gasp!) I feel like the stakes are higher. I’m married, which by some unwritten rule excludes me from getting my name tacked on to the cards and gifts my parents buy for our extended family. I guess my hubby and I are our own family now, and we need to step up to the plate of big-league gift-buying. I’m not saying that means we have to drop a ton of cash on everything, but it probably does mean we shouldn’t be showing up to family Christmas gatherings empty-handed.

That’s what happened last year when we spent Christmas Eve with some of my extended family. All of a sudden my aunts and even the cousin I never talk to were giving us gifts, and we had nothing to give them in return. Oops.

I wrote a post last year about how difficult it is to even choose the right gift for my husband, and how living in a remote area of the Middle East makes shopping trips kind of difficult. Case in point: my birthday just passed, and aside from the items I hand-picked on a recent trip to Dubai, all I had to unwrap was a box of Cheerios and one of those wooden rods to hold your paper towels. That’s what happens when the only store within 100 km is a grocery store, people. All the same challenges apply this year, too, which is why I’m taking a proactive approach and getting started on my shopping NOW. A few weeks ago I was invited to visit a shop of

This guy must be under a lot of stress

This guy must be under a lot of stress

handmade items crafted by local women and girls. The stuff was overpriced, but I was salivating over the prospect of being able to cross a couple of people’s names off the list all the way back in September. I spent more than $200 for two or three items, which, let’s just say, surprised my husband. “When I said you should take a thousand riyal, I didn’t think you’d actually spend it all!”

Well, someone has to take charge of the gift-buying, or we’ll find ourselves among the mobs crowding the malls on December 23rd, frantically trying to find something for that brother-in-law who seems to have everything. I don’t know, maybe this isn’t as hard as I’m making it out to be. Am I the only one feeling increased pressure in this area now that I’m a twenty-five year old, bonafide adult?

I guess it’s possible that I am just gift-challenged or hopelessly weird. After all, my husband and I have already had a conversation in which we (seriously) discussed whether one or both of us would be purchasing a gallon-sized container of Chipotle Tabasco sauce for the other this year. Stay tuned—this holiday season could get interesting!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 11, 2013 11:11 am

    Right there with you Cindy. Last year was the first year I really put any effort into presents and I kind of went all out, buying my family an absurd amount of gifts to compensate for my mediocre at best gift giving for all the holidays before. this year im doing my best to keep it simple, one or two gifts each and getting them together ASAP. i’ve got my brother done already but parents are hard. i can’t imagine having to get gifts for inlaws and nieces and all that jazz. too much.

    p.s. my grandparnets started this blissful idea ten or so years ago where we all only get one random name to buy a gift for. all the cousins switch names and all the adults(my parents and their sisters and brothers inlaw). That way everyone gets a christmas gift but we dont all have to buy gifts for everyone. the surprise aspect is fun too. We all get stuff for grandma and she gets stuff for us. i highly recommend it.

  2. thelittlemerskank permalink*
    November 15, 2013 12:54 am

    Cindy, I agree with you about the pressure now being on. I am not married, but I still feel like I have reached that point where putting my name on my mother’s gifts seems, well, sneaky. I think for me the moment I really started worrying about gifts was the Christmas after my Dad died, because I knew my gifts for my mom would be the main ones she received. Every Christmas since then I have put extra time and effort into finding nice gifts for her, normally several- and it has always been somewhat stressful because she is a picky person. So this has been my burden for a while, but I agree with your post in that in the last few years I have felt the increasing pressure to buy nice gifts for more and more people in my family. I very rarely achieve the whole list, but I feel conscious of a largish number of people I really should buy presents for. So, like you, I try to start early. I have planned three Christmas shopping excursions before I go back to the US, the first of which took place this last weekend. LIttle by little it always comes together!

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