• Phyllis Prestamo

Christmas Decorating & Shopping - When is Early, Too Early!

When do you do your Christmas shopping? When do you decorate? Over the years there is definitely a push to do things earlier and earlier and the TV ads, retail outlets and malls do not make it easy. The local Mall Santa was available for taking pictures on November 1 this year and when I went to buy Halloween candy sprinkles 10 days before Halloween, they were already in the clearance bin and Christmas was everywhere. A friend asked me in the beginning of November how my Christmas shopping was going and I replied that is wasn't and she responded that she just had a few things to wrap and she was done.

As a child, my parents - particularly my father, believed Christmas didn't come until Christmas. For us kids Christmas was magical, as my parents put up the tree Christmas Eve after we went to bed, spread out the presents and hung the wreath on the door. Little did I know until I was much older that sometimes my parents had been to bed for only an hour or two when we woke up. I was told that one Christmas my dad and my grandfather assembled an elaborate toy box with shelves that took them all night after coming home from church and they never went to bed. No wonder both of them were out cold on some couch or recliner after Christmas dinner. This was a bit crazy, but it was my Dad's way of creating an atmosphere of pure excitement. Our tradition since I have had children, has always been that the Christmas season does not begin until after Thanksgiving. I like to appreciate each event as it comes. I love the holidays and I decorate for each one, giving each time to shine. The Christmas season is very important to me and I like to use the time in Advent to prepare for Christ's birth spiritually and prayerfully. I spread my decorating out over the week after Thanksgiving savoring each bin I open.

Now Shopping is a whole different issue. When I was young my mother and my aunts often walked 4th Avenue in Mount Vernon, NY going all the way up one side of the street and then back down the other during the holidays. My Aunt Barbara once said that she couldn't Christmas shop until it snowed. Back in the 50's and 60's this was not much of a problem because it often snowed at least once in December---she didn't care how much a dusting would do. Now she might not shop until January. My brother-in-law Phil was never in any rush to shop, and often called us Christmas Eve day asking for suggestions for our girls. I am also not one of those who starts over the summer like an office mate of mine did. She shopped so early that when her kids were small she had to return things because there were different items on her children's wish lists weeks before Christmas or they had a growth spurt and no longer fit into what she had bought. This to me was more stressful then shopping in December. When my parents were alive my stumbling block was that their birthdays were the 4th and 5th of December; I had to get that taken care of first. Now I feel comfortable with shopping right after Thanksgiving. I sometimes see something at a craft fair or a shop that is just perfect for one of my kids or grand kids, but that is not often. I have a budget and a list and I shop from my living room. Most everything I buy is online and I become very friendly with my UPS driver. My grand kids use a Pinterest Board for their Wish Lists, which makes it very easy for Grammy Phyllis; I just click on the links. I view their boards and pick a few things and then purchase some surprises. Last year my husband and I also made a box of "fun things to do with Grammy or Papa". We are still working on it, but we have had sleepovers, craft days, baking days, Ava took a trip with me to NYC and Zoe visited a kid's spa.

Whatever you feel is right for you, think about what this holiday means and try not to make it a stressful event. Enjoy your family and friends, tour the neighborhood lights and be grateful for all your blessings this past year! Before you know it, it will be New Year's Day and time to start the Holiday seasons all over again.

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