Thanksgiving is in our rear-view mirror and the biggest holiday of the year is barreling down on us like a semi out of control. There are just a little over three weeks until Christmas. And, no matter how often or loudly we protest that it isn’t about the gift-giving, we all know that it is – sort of.
As far back as I can remember, our family always went a little overboard with Christmas presents. My grandmother justified our extravagance by claiming we gave presents to show our love for one another just like God proved His love for us by giving us Jesus. That’s as good an explanation as any; however, I suspect it had more to do with her own impoverished childhood.
In Grandma’s small town, there was a big, decorated tree in the town square. On Christmas Eve, everyone gathered to admire the tree. Presents for all the children were tied to the evergreen’s branches. Grandma was always certain that the big doll, tied to the top, was for her. Her friend wished for the toy train that circled the base. Every year, both children were disappointed; the expensive gifts went to the wealthier children in town. Less fortunate children had to be content with bags of fruit and candy or homemade scarves and mittens. I received a doll for every Christmas and birthday until I turned thirteen.
If you have children or grandchildren, you understand the desire to behold the joy on their faces when they open a present and find the one thing they were wishing for – or, something they never knew they wanted.
The complications involving the supply chain, this year, may make it difficult to provide the perfect gift. However, there are some things you can do to avoid the frustration and disappointment that will result if you aren’t able to find that perfect gift. Speaking from my own experience, it is often the giver and not the recipient who is most disappointed. We want to please the people we love.
With that in mind, we have been told for weeks now that we should shop early. The most sought-after items are sitting in shipping containers, still on the ship, with not enough workers to unload them or transport them to the stores that ordered them. If you are lucky enough to spot that special something, don’t wait. Buy it now. Gone are the days when we waited until closer to Christmas, hoping for a sale. If there are any sales, they will come after the holiday when those boats finally get unloaded.
I suggest that, whenever possible, you buy American-made items. They may still be subject to transportation problems; but, the supply should be better than if they have to come from a foreign port. It may be difficult to find electronics since most of their components are made in other countries.
If you do a lot of your shopping online (as I do), you may have already waited too late. Order as soon as possible and hope your gifts arrive on time. The same principle applies to cards or gifts you need to send to others. They need to be on their way within this week.
Depending on your skill level and the difficulty of the project, it may not be too late to tackle a hand-made gift. One of Emma’s favorite gifts ever was a snowy white, super-soft, fleece, bathrobe I made for her one year. I appliqued a blue, flannel snowman on it to match the pajamas that went with it. Cooper loved the toboggan cap I crocheted for him when he was ten. I used green yarn for it because Cooper is color-blind and that was one of the few colors he could see.
One-of-a-kind, homemade gifts don’t usually make the wish list along with computer games and electronic devices. However, they usually last longer and are more cherished. Just try to keep some perspective. Know that what you are really giving is your love; hopefully, your recipients will know that, too.
But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.” Luke 1:30-31 NI
This article originally appeared on Evening World: Afterthoughts: Avoiding a Christmas crisis