Monday, December 08, 2008

Batteries Not Included

Today tastes like london broil, chives, and ink, with a side of tinsel.

I can really feel the turn in the economy and the presidency, as well as the mood of the nation. It's not so much the news stories (if I hear ONE MORE fluff piece on how bleak everything is, I'll scream) but in the way the holiday is proceeding.

First, a confession. This year, Gareth and I are doing Christmas the way you're supposed to do it. Make a list of everyone you gift to and a tentative list of what you're doing for them. Decide on your budget, scale back, and as you spend, track what you laid out. (Before, Gareth would say, "Try to keep it under a grand.")

We have three overlapping circles of folks we gift to. One set is the Grimm's Christmas people (with whom we sit down and swap horror stories every mid-December, as a palate cleansing skeleton at the saccharine feast), one is a group that meets at another couple's house (amusingly, it's the same people year after year. We've joined Gwydion and Callidasia for Xmas Eve for something like FIFTEEN YEARS RUNNING; it's practically a family reunion at this point), and then there's blood kin.

With the second group, it's easy to figure out what the gift is--Christmas ornaments. We've been doing that for several years.

Ornaments are easy to come by, sentimental, and require very little space. Bonus: They're fragile and seasonal. If you can't stand what I bought you, a simple nudge while dismantling the tree will take care of THAT issue. And I won't expect to see you wear it, or see it prominently displayed in your home when I visit.

So out we went this weekend to shop ornaments for group 2. (Group 1 is getting embroidered T-shirts like souveniers . . . from a place that only exists in a handful of my stories.) We'd learned our lesson last year--while you can get deep discounts on ornaments the weekend before Xmas, the crowds and noise are all but unbearable.

This year . . . you could hear the crickets chirping in the aisles. And we were able to scoop up armloads at 15-50 percent off the ticketed price. The malls were about as busy as they are in mid-July, maybe even a little slower.

And tellingly, there've been no catalogues in the mailbox for hyper-priced, super luxy goods and nonsense. Hence, no holiday rant.

I suppose that's a tradition I wouldn't mind discarding . . .

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