My 91 year old mother in law has been staying with us this past week and every time she walked by our Christmas tree she would say, "That Christmas tree looks so sad. It needs some presents underneath it." Numerous times throughout the week she repeated this comment along with expressing the desire to go to the local Dollar General store to purchase some "tree gifts." No, I don't believe she meant gifts for the tree...but "tree gifts", as I have come to understand the terminology, are little gifts that really aren't anything of major significance, but just some fun or simple little gifts to give to the family...almost more like "stocking stuffers", but they go under the tree before Christmas Eve apparently.
I tried to explain to her that in my family's tradition, we never put any gifts under the tree until Christmas Eve. The only presents that would be "present" under the tree prior to Christmas Eve would be gifts that arrived either through the mail, or gifts that came from friends or neighbors or people not in the immediate family. Of course, when I was growing up, my parents would not even put up the Christmas tree until Christmas Eve...and we would help decorate it until our bedtime, but it was not completed until after we children went to bed, and then it would be a surprise to see it on Christmas morning, along with all of the gifts that we had never seen until that moment as well.
Of course, I found out in later years that one of the reasons we never saw any presents under the tree before Christmas morning was because my mother rarely finished her Christmas shopping until a few days (or less) before Christmas, and that she was usually up until 2:00 A.M. Christmas morning wrapping gifts. Now, to her defense, my mother worked full time and at that time we did not have any local shopping centers or malls. Shopping meant traveling at least thirty miles or more to the big city. But I think my mother may have suffered from "Christmas Shopping Avoidance". At least that is what I am naming it. Why? Because I have it. Seriously. Not just in the sense of being a procrastinator, but I literally have panic attacks when I try to go Christmas shopping...just thinking about it and writing this for all the world to see gives me sweaty palms and heart palpitations. If I could afford to do so, I would gladly pay someone to go do my shopping for me. But they would have to figure out what to get everyone and where to get it and if they would really like it...and ....and....well....you see what I mean? I know...all you great shoppers out there that have had your Christmas shopping done since July...some even since last January...maybe some in October...or perhaps you waited until "Black Friday"...but you got it done. Your gifts are exquisitely wrapped and under your perfect tree, and you are now baking cookies and gingerbread houses and taking gifts and cookies to your neighbors and children's teachers and the old folk's homes and ....and...and...here I am writing about it and not doing it....
I haven't written my Christmas letter yet or sent the first card. I can't even think of what to say...most everyone knows everything already about me and our family....so what is there to say that you don't already know? And, it isn't that I don't want to give gifts and do nice things for others...I just seem to be locked in place and frozen in space...I can't do it. Yes, it has been a difficult year for us. Yes, I think it may have something to do with that. Yes, I need to deal with it.
Okay, so today I gave in and took my mother in law to the local Dollar General so she could buy some "tree gifts". And then we came home and I actually wrapped them for her, and we put them under the tree. Now every time she walks by our tree she claps her hands and says "Now the tree looks so happy!"
|"The Tree Gifts"|