Saturday, November 29, 2008

That Time Of Year Again

Well it is that time of year again - the end of November. That means that December is just around the corner which means that Christmas will be here before you know it!! In fact it is already less than four weeks away and my guess is that the majority of you haven't even started to shop - or in some cases even think about it yet!

Our friends to the south, in the United States just had their Thanksgiving on Thursday and what is commonly known as "Black Friday" yesterday. That is the official kick off to the holiday shopping season.

For the religious among you, the first Sunday of Advent is tomorrow. Christian churches around the world begin holding special services on the first of the four Sunday's leading up to Christmas.

Even though I consider myself an agnostic, I still start the festive season about this time every year. Usually sometime between USA Thanksgiving and the first Sunday of Advent. I actually put up my decorations yesterday.

I leave them up until the day after Ukrainian Christmas. Why do I leave them up so long? Well it is a lot of work even for a small place like mine, so I'd rather leave them up and enjoy it for awhile! I have a 3' artificial tree that has 100 mini lights and over 100 mini ornaments that I have collected over the last 30 years or so. I have several other items that I place around the apartment to brighten up the place.

I don't own a camera at the moment, but this is a picture of my tree from 1999:
I've gotten a different tree since and have added some other ornaments, but you get the idea!

Some people go a bit crazy with all the decorating and such, but I keep it pretty simple. I haven't actually counted, but I would guess that somewhere between 35-45% are Looney Toons related - mostly of the Sylvester and Tweety variety. I also have lots of mini snowflakes and snowmen themed decorations.

I'm not really a big fan of garland. It looks okay on some big trees, if it is well done, but usually looks more like a messy filler than a compliment to the rest of the decorations. I'd much rather use a silver tinsel. It can be a little more time consuming putting it on but it gives great effect if done sparingly and individually.

I have a fair amount of Christmas music on mp3, but I don't go heavy duty into it like some people do. I have a few classics and a lot of pieces that are Christmasy without being religious in nature. I like the music interspersed with my regular listening.

There are a few people whom I still buy gifts for, but only a half dozen or so. Most people on my list get my homemade Christmas baking. I told you about my ornament gifts for the young ones in my November 20 post about the Christmas Craft Sale. I bought 4 1/2 gifts that day and went to St.Vital Centre earlier this week and finished the rest. I also did a bit of gift "creating" on the PC this week, but in answer to your question - YES - I am done "shopping"!!! The gifts are even wrapped and the cards are written! I don't have to face the insanity of the malls over the next few weeks. I'll still have to do grocery shopping, but I can get in and out of most grocery stores pretty early in the morning and therefore avoid the crowds.

I'm not a shopper by any stretch of the imagination! I like getting in early and getting out before the crowds hit. I hate being jostled and shoved by shoppers that look like they have only one hour to buy for twenty people! I always go in with a list of who I have to buy for and some idea of what they might like/need. Never been that crazy about gift cards. They always seemed like a bit of a cop out and unimaginative to me. I'd much rather have a "Wish List" of a few things the person would like in a given price range. At least that way you know that the gift is something that they want and won't be standing with at the returns counter after Christmas! Granted, if you know the person REALLY well you can get away with buying them something without a list. We've all seen the "perfect gift for ____" at some point. The trick is remembering that you are buying for their taste NOT yours!

Seriously, who hasn't gotten "the gift from hell" that you wouldn't be caught dead wearing/using? You really have to wonder about just how well some people know you! I've always hated the colour pink, but one year I got a neon pink night shirt! I used to have a collection of stuffed animals and one year I was given an 18" stuffed mouse that squeaked when you touched it's paws. Cute to some, but I HATE MICE! I threw it in the bottom of the closet and forgot about it until a couple of months later when I was rummaging around for something in the closet and touched something furry that squeaked!!!! I screamed, then cursed the thing! It went to a charity drive at the first opportunity and I've written lists ever since!

So why not write a wish list? You can be as specific as you want but the more vague you are the less apt you are to get what you really wanted! Just listing genres such as books or tools leaves too much error potential. If there is a specific book or tool you want then give the details! I have a friend who will only shop in one area of the city. If the gift isn't there - then you aren't getting it! She doesn't have time to run all over looking for the "perfect" gift! The more info she gets on what you want the better the chances are that you are going to get it. On occasion, I have even given her the stores sku number so she gets the right item! I give her a list of 10-15 things that I would like and can use. I know she will buy 3 or 4 of them and that way I'm still surprised but I get gifts that are right for me!

I know that isn't the way a lot of people like to do things, but it works for me and for most of the people in my life! What do I want for Christmas this year? If you really want to know, send me an email and I'll let you know what is on my "2008 Wish List"!

Closer to Christmas, I'll send a few e-cards. So except for some more Christmas baking, I'm pretty much ready for the season!


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