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Tuesday, December 11, 2001

That holiday feeling is a little slippery this year. I'm reaching, really I am, but it's just over there. I think that's it, rustling in the shadows. If I can just keep trudging onward, I know I can get there.

It's not usually this hard. Christmas spirit comes naturally to a sentimental sap like me. Maybe it's just this year, and all that's happened. Or maybe it's me. But I'm not giving up, and I guess that's proof enough that the old feeling will turn up some time over the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, I shopped today. For an hour or so, I thought I almost had it. I was in a certain store, a certain kind of store, a big, monolithic, multimedia-type store, and there were all these items, all these visible, tangible things, these portals to an alternate reality, and I lost my doubt, this quavering hesitation to give over to the season. For an hour. It's a start.

An hour at a time is about all I can handle, without losing whatever grip I have on sanity. I pushed it to the limit today, but I'll be right back out there tomorrow, trying again. Every day is a shopping day, since I have an hour to kill when the whole world thinks I'm "running errands." It doesn't take an hour to go to the post office, unless I go the long way — by way of the mall.

I really have just five people to think about when it comes to Christmas, but I've become predictable in recent years. Everybody gets a calendar, a book, some music and/or a video. Plus one more thing. Something special, that I pick out especially for that person (just like the grand prize on The Newlywed Game). That's where I'm stuck, for most of the people on my short list. But the progress I made today gives me some hope that it'll all come together before it's too late.

Nobody gets jewelry from me. I have this mental block about spending real money on rocks and stones, no matter how pretty they are. And clothes ... well, I have no taste, and no one expects me to get them clothes. It's a part of the system that's always worked pretty well. But it doesn't leave much else to choose from.

Shopping has become harder, not easier, as the years have gone by. Children have grown up, and showering them with trinkets doesn't work any more. Adults have grown older, and filling a need is no longer the key to successful giving. It takes more imagination, just at the moment in my life when I seem to be running out of that commodity.

It's not that I'm forcing myself to spend money on a bunch of picky people. It's all me. I'm the one I have to please, and I've been prone to mistakes lately. I haven't been satisfied that I've given people the best present I could have come up with. It seems while I'm in the stores that I'm doing the best I can, but then I get home and start wrapping and it all looks so lame. To me, not to anyone else.

Finally tonight, I gave up obsessing about it for a while. I lay on the couch and closed my eyes, and a couple of inspiring thoughts blazed across my mind. It was a good feeling.

scattered clouds

The eastern sky at sunset on a cloudy December day.

My December shopping crisis is complicated by the fact that I have two important birthdays coming up between now and Christmas. These are the birthdays of two of the people closest to me in the world. And they're both on my notify list, so I can't really say any more about it. Not here, not now. Don't pity me, though. I'll cope.

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Latest recommendation:

Terry, Random Notes, December 8, Merry Freakin' Christmas

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One year ago: Time Keeps On Slipping

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