The Boring Word About Gift-Giving

December 11, 1985

With only two more weeks until the big day I have a grand total of one Christmas gift tucked away in my closet, and it’s for my uncle in Cleveland. That’s not to say that I have not purchased more gifts. My problem is that I give them away before Christmas arrives.

For instance this year I have already purchased a shirt and sweater set for my son which he wore to Thanksgiving dinner, a special pair of boots for my other son which he wore to school this week, gloves for my husband which I gave him the first day it snowed and jeans for our daughter who was down to her last pair.

Every year it’s the same. I see something one of the kids wants or needs, I buy it, and before long I’m dragging it out of the closet because they could really use it now. This trait of handing out presents before it is time seems to be a family tradition. When we were growing up we could always count on gifts beginning in early December and stretching right up to Christmas Eve. If there was a party coming up Mom would bring out the new Christmas skirt (You might as well wear it now), at the first good snow, mitten and hat sets would appear, while a program at school could mean stockings or a piece of jewelry to make it special. Mother must have spent all her time hurrying out to buy new presents to replace the ones she was handing out.

At first I was sure I hadn’t inherited the “early present” habit. When the kids were little and the gifts were toys I didn’t have too much trouble restraining myself. But as they grew older it became harder. The earlier I bought the gifts the sooner I gave them away.

So I decided to start shopping as close to Christmas as possible. But as any last minute shopper knows this can have its good and bad points. There is of course the worry of getting done, the lack of time to wrap gifts (I have been know to give presents still in their original store bag), the poor selection of sizes (this can be OK if the person you are buying for wears a size 3 or a size 44), and the crowds (apparently I’m not the only last minute shopper). On the other hand there is the excitement of racing the clock, and the satisfaction of finding just the right item on sale.

There is one other advantage – knowing where your gifts are. There have been years when I bought small items early and put them carefully away only to forget about them. I remember the year I found a whole bag of small toys which I had tucked in the back of the closet. And then there was the time I knew I had a bag of magic markers, pens, tape and glue to fill the stockings but couldn’t track them down. I never did find them – or maybe I gave them out one night when a social studies project was due just before Christmas vacation.