Sunday, November 10, 2013

Holiday Stress Has Begun: It's Time For The Christmas Lists

 

I was raised in a very organized family.  I'd even go so far as to say that we all have some form of organizational OCD.  Some of us are clean-aholics, some of us are alphabetizers and campions of the organized spice drawer;  a few of us are over-concerned about germ-warfare, while others of us are list makers and revelers in minute, written-down details.  I've been given master classes in the proper cleaning of a linen closet shelf by my mother and I've been asked by my sister if the random shoe pile by my side door was really the "shoe's home."  But don't think I'm implying that I'm exempt from the OCD either - not with my excessive hand-washing and my belief that there truly is one correct way of doing most activity (my own).

For the most part, our brand of OCD is relatively functional and not too much of a distraction.  And in some cases, it's really a great, great asset.  Take our yearly Christmas lists, for example - each year, around this time, the OCD women  (and there are five of us) assemble lists for all 15 members of our family.  We then post said lists on the internet and spend the next few weeks, choosing items off the lists to purchase and then emailing everyone to inform them of the gift's removal.  It can be a little stressful - you have to double check that you haven't included Meredith in the distribution of the message "I'm buying Meredith the running gloves" but it's also a very organized and tidy system and one that works well for us OCD over-achievers.

And while I love the organizational aspect of the Christmas list process, I totally dread it at the same time.  It's a ton of work to assemble Christmas lists for five people.  For one thing, the males in my life are terrible at creating gift lists.  For Gordy and Henry, making a Christmas list is akin to having to watch a four-hour dance recital or individually pulling out their arm hairs.  They hate making lists and they can never think of any item they might like to receive under the Christmas tree.  Gordy doesn't really care what he gets as a present - he's pretty much thankful for any gift or gesture.  Henry, like most teenagers, expects people to just automatically know what a 13-year-old boy would want and then get him that item.  But don't pick anything that might be too young, too silly, too stupid or too intellectually stimulating, because he'll judge you for months.  Or sulk.

And there's nothing so tiresome as a sulking teenager.

It is up to me, to pad Gordy and Henry's sparse lists and that's really not fun or easy.



My girls aren't much better.  Their lists may be longer, but they still have to be combed through and tweaked.  This year, Georgia put five items on her list that were $300 or more.  $300!!!!  As if, little girl!  I had to give her list back to her with the instructions to remove all costly items and add six-eight things to her list that were under $50.  And I had to remind her that neither Santa, nor her parents nor any of her relatives are millionaires.  The last time I checked, she was not Paris Hilton.



Josie's list had the greatest number of affordable gifts, but was still rather weak.  At eight and a half, Josie has reached the age when she no longer wants a mountain of pink, plastic toys under the tree, but she's not old enough for the electronic gadgets that she covets or gift certificates that make shopping for her older siblings and cousins so much easier.



And the stress of the Christmas lists doesn't end with the requested gifts themselves.  Once the lists are finished by the individual (and approved by me), is the moment that my work actually begins.  Before the list can be published for all relatives to see, I have to break it down into categories.  We need to remove two items from each child's list for Santa, and usually three or four items are removed to be presents from Gordy and me.  And then there are Gordy's parents, who - reasonablly so - want to get the children gifts that they will enjoy, too, but aren't a part of our family email chain.   I have to choose and remove a couple of presents off each child's list for them.  And then there's Georgia's birthday, which falls precariously close to Christmas and I have to keep constant vigilance over her list and remove any item she might receive as a birthday gift so it's not duplicated on Christmas day by an unsuspecting relative.  Sigh.

It's very confusing.  And probably the reason why we often go off-list when buying for our adult relatives.  It's much easier to purchase gifts for the adult who likes to cook or the adult who always needs another running shirt.  Buying for children is much, much harder - especially when you have no idea what toys they already own and what activities they still enjoy doing.

I am determined to finish up the Christmas lists this afternoon.  I only have to find about six more things for Henry's list, force Gordy to add more to his own list (currently, he has one item), remove ridiculously expensive items from Georgia's inventory and get Josie to focus on more things she'd actually enjoy playing with rather than things that she randomly selected from a catalog.  And then, I will separate the presents into groups of who will actually see them, email the revised lists to my relatives and Gordy's parents and finally - FINALLY!  I will be able to relax.

At least for a minute or two.

Six more weeks until Christmas!


8 comments:

Jean said...

Sounds like you have a good system, but I wonder if there is an app out there that could take the place of all the emailing back and forth (and know who to exclude from the distribution)!

I like to get all the gift buying out of the way so that December is a little less stressful. Some years I am better organized than others.

Good luck!

Lisa Witherspoon said...

I have been working on our lists too and I completely get the stress! Megan has a birthday in December which makes hers even harder. My kids, especially my oldest, are completely non-materialistic which is great until it comes to making the Christmas lists!

Angie said...

Oh my goodness, that sounds like a LOT of work. Christmas stresses me out too. I'm thinking we might just take another vacation this year :)

Martha said...

Hello Jean! What a great suggestion - I bet there is an app out there for Christmas shopping. And I'm right there with you about getting the shopping finished before December. I like to settle back and enjoy the month.

Thanks for stopping by!

Martha said...

Lisa - the older the children get, the harder it is for them to make lists and you are right, in many ways, that's a good thing! I got our lists finished last night and I already feel relieved. Now I can enjoy the holidays

Martha said...

Angie - that's a brilliant idea!

Jean said...

Martha,
I found the perfect site www.elfster.com. I am going to try it with the extended family and will let you know how it works!
Jean

Martha said...

Thanks so much, Jean! I'll check it out, too. Let me know what you think!

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