Thursday, November 10, 2005

Christmas Shopping

My Christmas shopping is very limited. Since I have no family of any kind in the area (neither extended nor self-created, like husband and kids), the heart of my Christmas celebrations hasn't been about gifts. But since there really hasn't been any heart to my Christmas celebrations (alone in Chicago, I never know what to do with myself), I'm going to make it about gifts, that is, gifts for myself. Last year I got myself TiVo and my first cell phone. They were GREAT gifts, just what I wanted, and that was my best Christmas in a long time. This year I'm trying to decide what to get for me. Maybe a digital camera since I really did want to post a photo of me in my bee Halloween costume, but I didn't have a camera.

I loved Christmas as a child. What kid whose parents pretty much got them whatever they wanted didn't love Christmas? There was no yelling over Christmas dinner back then, so Christmas was pretty good. But each year that I got older, the gifts stopped making that much of an impression on me. Maybe I thought getting all excited about Christmas was for little kids and I wanted to be more mature than that. After I left college and became a Grown Up, Christmases really lost their magic. Then after I turned 30, they got even worse because I began to think of myself as a loser since I didn't have a husband and kids to celebrate with. Those were some rough Christmases: living alone, not knowing what to do with myself on that most loved-one-oriented day, desperately wishing I had the family and house and storybook celebration, feeling certain I was a completely unloveable failure who deserved to be lonely during the holidays. Ugh!!

I'm extremely grateful to be over THAT mind trip, but even secure in the knowledge that being single is simply a different choice from being married, I still miss that old Christmas magic from childhood. How do I re-create it in the absence of children with which to kindle the mystery and joy of gift-giving? I've decided to do it by giving gifts to myself.

Why did it take me so long to figure it out? The magic of my childhood Christmases was about those wonderful presents I looked forward to, so if I want to feel that again, I need to be receiving presents. And not shot-in-the-dark presents like bath sets and winter scarves that well-meaning people give when they don't know what else to do. I need to figure out exactly what I MOST want more than anything and wrap that up for myself and not open it until Christmas morning. That's what I did with the TiVo and cell phone last year and it was totally great. I felt that old anticipation as the day got closer and closer. I could barely wait to open my gifts and start phoning and TiVo-ing. On Christmas morning I woke up excited, tore into my Christmas presents feeling special and loved, and spent the morning trying out my new cell phone and installing my TiVo, surrounded by torn wrapping paper, cardboard boxes and ripped plastic. Gone were the scary Christmas monsters of Loneliness, Reproductive Failure and Looming Middle-Age. I was an excited kid again, absorbed in the cherished ritual of material consumption. And this year I'm looking forward to Christmas again -- an incredible miracle for a childless, family-less spinster. So, what'll it be....what'll it be for me this year.....?

Yes, it's my return to the good old materialistic approach to Christmas and no one does it better than the children. Throughout the land at this time of year, people (especially parents) ask, "What do you want for Christmas?" I'm simply turning that focus where it makes the most sense: what do I want for Christmas?

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