The holidays are almost here and that means it’s time to buy gifts for my kids.
What tipped me off? The colored lights making the streets festive? Sale emails crowding my inbox? The way-too-jolly songs on the radio? Oh no, I’d miss all of that if my tween wasn’t on rewind, reminding me, over and over again, until I threaten to wear earplugs around the house, about the gift he wants most.
Lest I forget that it’s almost PRESENT TIME, the kid is counting down the days out loud, one hour, one minute, one second at a time. And the teens are no better. They have mentioned (40 times) what they want, too, for the record, just in case I’m up all night or happen to find myself in a store wringing my hands, worrying myself sick about what to get them.
Now that my kids have hit double digits, the holidays are all wrapped up with what they’re getting from me. As a result, I feel like a slave. A cab driver. A personal shopper. OK, let’s call me what I have become – a bank account.
If you can’t tell, my inner Scrooge is sucking all the fun out of gift-giving around here and it’s time to do some soul searching and figure out why.
Just a few years ago, I had a blast trying to find what would light up my kids’ eyes at the holidays but gone are the days when I would spend weeks coming up with a wrapping-paper-tearing Kodak moment (a feat that last year, I failed miserably at). No more heading to the store to ask the clerk what kids these days are into.
Now, they just come out with it, while I find myself bristling, feeling underappreciated. But it’s gift-giving time, so what exactly do I want from my kids?
I know what I don’t want. I don’t want to go into their rooms and stand between them and their laptops, waving like a lunatic to get them to notice me. I don’t want to beg them to spend the afternoon with me instead of with their friends. And I definitely don’t want to battle cars in the mall lot then run around, sweating, shopping, ticking off wish lists all by my lonesome – only to have to do it all over again when I disappoint everyone by buying the wrong video game or the wrong necklace or the wrong iPod case.
All of which leads me to the one gift that I really want, and that is to hang out with each of my kids during this holiday season. What’s really bugging me is not their sense of entitlement at holiday time but the fact that as they age, I feel “entitled” to spend less and less time with them.
If they’re each getting the gift of a lifetime, I want one, too. Actually, I want three.
This year, I know what I want. I’m making a date with each child to go out together so they can pick their own gifts. They can take all day if they need to. The longer the better. In the meantime, we can browse the clothing racks and the bookstores and the vintage records and the video games and the iPod cases. We can stop for lunch and hot chocolate and ice cream. They can take their sweet time deciding they want while I take my sweet time enjoying their company.
For the first time ever, the mall in December is going to be my happy place. It will be my gift to my kids, to me, to them.
HAPPY HOLIDAY SHOPPING!