2006.12.28 Stuff your stockings with windshield wipers?

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

As my children edge closer to adulthood, I find it harder to muster enthusiasm for the holiday fanfare. They don’t seem to care if there are no outside lights decorating the porch, so I’m not motivated to make it happen. They aren’t clamoring for a real tree, so it’s fine by me to set up the dinky artificial one bought by mistake, that should have been returned, but we lost the receipt. It’s a pitiful thing, but it came with lights, and it serves its purpose as a gathering place for presents.

We are long past the days of celebrating Advent with candle lighting, singing Christmas songs and reading a Christmas story every night—activities that brought us closer together and balanced the emphasis on material things.

I hope it’s just a temporary bout of holiday depression that will pass when I adjust to the fact that they really don’t want the kooky kind of kid presents I want to give, but Christmas is losing its luster around here. The excitement and thrill and giddy happiness of Christmas morning is gone. Now, I know that is not at all the reason for the season, but still, I miss that heady and joyful feeling of surprising the heck out of my children with something they really want.

Maybe I am just out of touch with what would delight them. And I’m sure it doesn’t help that I haven’t yet adjusted to the price tags of what’s guaranteed to make them happy. Whatever my problem is, this wasn’t a good Christmas in the gift department.

Even stocking stuffers, which I delight in buying, presented a problem. I often wait until quite close to Christmas to buy the little things to stuff into stockings. But on the eve of Christmas Eve I realized I only had a couple of feeble things. Maddie and Rozee were headed to the mall quite late that night to buy some last-minute presents, so I thought  I better come along to buy stocking stuffers. Ben joined us for want of nothing better to do.

After a tour of the mall and one big box store, I had bought nothing and was ready to give up and go home. But the kids wanted to go to that store I try hard to boycott. As we headed into the store I had a brainstorm.

“Hey, how about I give you each $10 and you each buy stocking stuffers for one of you. Like Ben, you buy for Rozee and Rozee you buy for Maddie and Maddie, you buy for Ben.

“How about you give us $20 each and we each buy for the other two,” said Ben.

“Twenty dollars! That’s a lot for stocking stuffers!” I said.

But Ben launched into an explanation of what stocking stuffers should really be like and how much they cost based on ads he’s seen.

“Maybe this is a bad idea,” I said. “I should really be doing this.”

”No!” Maddie exclaimed, “It’s a great idea! I still have stuff in my stocking from last year that I’ve never used.”

Faced with the thought of traipsing around a store I didn’t want to be in, looking for stuff my children weren’t going to want, I relented.

As I distributed the twenties, Ben said conspiratorially to Rozee and Maddie, “Let’s each spend it on ourselves!”

They set off in a clump, with me yelling ground rules I could tell they weren’t going to heed: Hey, don’t shop together! It should be a surprise! Don’t let each other see what you buy!

But they decided I should be surprised Christmas morning with what they bought, so Rozee took care of putting the items in their stockings.

I never would have thought to buy Rozee windshield wipers as a stocking stuffer, but Ben figured she really needed new ones. He also bought her some eye shadow so I guess that makes up for the wipers.

Maddie and Rozee each bought Ben a DVD. Rozee bought Maddie nail polish, makeup and “hair product,” and Maddie bought her Beauty and the Beast lip gloss, nail polish, make-up brushes and Christmas socks.

“Clearly nothing I would ever buy for stocking stuffers,” I said to Maddie when she recounted her purchases.

“I know,” she said, in a voice that indicated she knew I just didn’t get it.

“That’s not very nice, Maddie,” chided Rozee.

But Maddie is practical.

“It’s better to spend money on things that will be used than things that will just sit around,” she said.

I know what I need to cure my Christmas blues. Grandkids. They’d make great stocking stuffers.


I need help with the transition from maddie to grandkids...

    – Dec. 28, 2006 
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