December 13, 2011

Gifts 2010 vs 2011

The tree is trimmed and Speck is glad. She loves relaxing underneath with the presents. I really relish this time of year! The reruns of classic movies! The lights! The singing (obnoxious corporate big box ads, notwithstanding)! Last year Chris and I were apart while he conducted field work toward his dissertation in South America. I was adjusting to my new job and what it meant to be on the tenure track as faculty. My sense of holiday anticipation in 2010 was dominated by our impending reunion in Rio de Janeiro, where we honeymooned. All these anxieties made trimming the tree and shopping for gifts feel a bit harried. Although I was fortunate to be surrounded by friends and family when Chris was away, the distance was starting to wear on me. It can be so easy to take for granted the emotional support of a mundane routine. And everything about our time apart felt transitional. Combining the newness of my job, the hectic schedule of getting married that fall, the worry I felt when Chris was in Caracas, specifically, and the general stress of being apart from your partner, I was way off my gift game.

Sure, wedding photos provided plenty of parental gift fodder. And I did my best to be thrifty and selective with siblings, girlfriends, and coworkers. But I didn't even finish until the day before Christmas.
This year we have more plans to travel over holiday break. But with Chris home, work calm, and life routinized, I decided to be organized, completing a lot of my gift shopping early. I am 95% finished, including wrapping. And if I was confident that my giftees were unaware of my blog, I'd share what I bought. I LOVE buying gifts for those who are dear to me. But the one thing I am not so good at is being patient by preserving surprises. I cannot tell you how many times I've begged Chris to accept his birthday or Christmas presents early. And he isn't the only one I've forced early gifts upon. As soon as I get home to visit my parents, I start pestering them to see if they'd be open to opening something early. They're steadfast in their refusal which I respect. I imagine I'd have less restraint if the roles were reversed.

Once the last gift arrives they start to burn holes under my tree. The waiting feels impossible! Hopefully the travel will provide enough distraction.

BTW, I have a new article up on CBS Pittsburgh's website. It examines how to shop for winter boots. Be sure to check it out!


thatdamngreendress said...

What a pretty, cozy image!  My tree is a little unbalanced visually since I can't hang anything too low for the cats to start becoming interested/swatting.  eeps.

I used to love spending time on finding the right gifts, but I think most of the appreciation was just the pleasure on my side of finding pretty things inexpensively, so now i just wait for the late xmas lists to come in and then find something my family is actually looking for.  sigh- its definitely less fun, though I also try and make things, but that truly gets stressful! 

There was an interesting article in the NYT this week about the psychology of gift giving/receiving:

Glad you get to spend a leisurely Christmas with the loved ones this year!

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