Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Shopping as a Mom

My due date with my first child was October 16th. It never once occurred to me during the 9 + months that I was pregnant that this would present a problem with Christmas shopping. For one thing, I believe strongly that the Christmas season doesn't begin until after we've turned the calendar to December.

Rewind to the beginning of December 2010 when I had a 4 week old (my baby came 11 days after her estimated "due" date). My baby was nursing around 10-12 times per day, I was still learning the true definition of sleep deprivation and I hadn't yet figured out how to fit in a daily shower. I actually left my baby for the very first time at the beginning of December. I had to get my driver's license renewed. I did a quick nursing session and left my brand new baby in the happy arms of her grandmother. I was gone a little over an hour. It was not such a big deal. But that's because I had no choice. I needed my license. I didn't need Christmas presents. I struggled with leaving my baby at this young age. It was emotional. I can say I wish it wasn't, but it was. And it was hard from a nursing perspective too. It's really not practical to go shopping for just an hour (and pumping wasn't yet an option for me). I hadn't yet learned the beauty of internet shopping. Christmas was approaching and I hadn't purchased a single gift.

Thankfully, we all agreed on a light gift giving Christmas that year and my husband was able to do most of the shopping for the extended family. As we entered the week of Christmas, I decided I would run to the closest store, just minutes away, so I could feel some sense of normalcy. No, I wouldn't normally do my Christmas shopping at the grocery store but I could be gone and back quickly this way. I went to the store and selected a few simple items. Having gifts to give is nice, no matter how simple. And, of course, the only thing that really mattered was us being together, with our new baby.

And I promised myself, next year would be easier.

The beginning of December 2011 came fast. My baby was now 13 months old. She was still nursing twice a day. I had retired the pump a month earlier and there was no way on earth I was getting that thing back out again. This meant, I needed to be around when it was time to nurse. She was also still taking 2 naps per day. I maybe had a 2 hour stretch between her naps, meals and nursing sessions. Plus, I was working full time. 

I got a bit of shopping done on the weekends when my daughter was down for her nap. But my days of all day shopping marathons were still gone. I needed to get home. To nurse. But it was more than just that. I wanted to be home. I was gone all week at work and I didn't want to spend the little time I had with my family on the weekends out shopping.

It was the week of Christmas and I was, again, still finishing my shopping. I remember taking my daughter with me to Kohl's. All the customers waved at her in her stroller as I roamed the aisles. It made me smile and feel slightly less stress as I found items for most of the people on my list. 

The week of that Christmas we received some wonderful news. I was pregnant with my second child.

That's the moment  I knew Christmas shopping was never, ever going to get easier. 

And it was from that moment on that I began to do early Christmas shopping. I bought my first Christmas present in February that year. This makes me insanely happy. If I hear someone say they want something or if I get a good idea for a gift, I go and make the purchase at that moment. No need to wait. I make lists as I come up with ideas. In fact, I already have a full list of almost every Easter gift my children will be getting next year. I most definitely found the pure joy that comes with internet purchases.

This year, I bought the vast majority of my kids gifts in October. It was just a coincidence. We went down the toy aisle at Target. They pointed to several items and I was able to go back and make some purchases a couple weeks later. I take advantage of these opportunities whenever I can now.

But, here's the thing. Sure, when that calendar turned to December in 2014 I had the kids shopping done. This still didn't eliminate my holiday stress entirely. I had bought a small number of other gifts, but I was actually behind with the extended family's gifts this year compared to the last 2 years. Not to mention the house decorating, the cookies that need to be baked, the crafts that need to be made for the girls' Christmas gifts and the parties planned. And the wrapping. All the wrapping.

All those things will get done though. I really do know this. Whether I buy gifts in October or February or the week of Christmas. All these things somehow, magically, get done. No matter how stressful it is. No matter how impossible it seems it will be to get the shopping and everything else done. I'm quite certain I will keep making my lists months in advance and finding happiness in purchasing gifts at the beginning of the year. When it comes to Christmas shopping, things are quite different now that I'm a mom. But when Christmas morning comes it is so much more special. And it just goes to show, no matter how old we are, Christmastime is most definitely magical. 

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