Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Great Pumpkin v. Santa Clause

Ok, so it's not even Halloween, yet I have Christmas carols spinning around my head, dancing with sugarplums and snowflakes. This is not because I happen to love Christmas music (I've been known to play "Silver Bells" in July). This is courtesy of the screwed up retail world.

Where there should be ghosts and goblins, there are elves and reindeer. Even Sears, the manly, hardware-centered department store, has gotten into the Christmas spirit. Three weeks ago I stopped in to purchase a new water filter; instead, I found myself browsing aisles festooned with sparkly garland and embroidered velvet stockings.

All this pre-Halloween Christmas cheer gives me the heebejeebies. When Santa comes to town, all my holiday insecurities suddenly return from their summer vacation, where they spent long days lazing in the sun by the pool. Sometimes they drank mai-tais. Now they're back, and ready to work.

Confession: I am a horrible gift-giver. Possibly the world's worst. I can never pick out just the right gift - often I get in the right ball park but then don't pick precisely the right item. It is always embarrassing on Christmas morning to see someone's face when they are trying to decide how best to praise a gift they hate.

(Not to mention that Christmas should never be about gifts, anyway. But that's a whole 'nother diatribe. With Advent coming up, I'm sure I'll have plenty of time to get into that issue.)

What makes this gift-giving blight worse is that everyone I know is great at giving gifts TO me. Like the mini-prep that my mother-in-law gave me a few years ago. Not something I would have asked for, but something that has become indispensable in my kitchen.

Because of my gift-giving issues, I love it when people make wish lists, even though I am really bad at making those, too. The problem is that there are very few reasonably-priced items that I want. If it's something necessary, I buy it for myself. Everything else is either too expensive (a trip to Greece) or too menial (new dish towels) to make a nice gift. But in the spirit of Christmas, I'll make a list.. Here goes:

1. New oven mitts. Mine are nasty.
2. Rummikub
3. A mini-DVD camcorder, to capture Tommy's cuteness for posterity.
4. A rosemary tree.
5. A leak-proof travel mug that will fit in my cupholder.

Sadly, that's all I can think of right now.

I'm going to put sleighbells on my jack 'o lantern and leave cookies and milk for the Great Pumpkin.