Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Holiday Sprint — A Labor of Love

Well, the big day is fast approaching.

Our backyard last month. It's all melted now. I'd take about
two more feet before Christmas, please.
And while kids around the world eagerly anticipate Christmas' arrival, their desire to see the clock spin ever faster is inversely proportionate to most parents' desire to see it slow the hell down.

Time is running out and there's a lot to get done. Halls to be swept, cleaned and decked. Schedules to juggle. Places to go, once you're done the juggling. Work to cram in before enjoying some time off. Get togethers to enjoy too. And shopping to do.

And, on that last matter, I find myself once again staring down the proverbial annual bullet. Last-minute shopping wasn't supposed to be part of this year's festivities. We had a plan.

Some time back in June, Mrs. Blackwell made a brilliant suggestion: on each of our weekly trips to the local farmers market we should buy one, single Christmas gift from one of the local arts and crafts folks peddling their wares.

It was a brilliant idea. Every week we'd chip away at the arduous task of Christmas shopping and by the time Autumn rolled around we'd be done. And each person on our list would be the recipient of a thoughtful, one-of-a-kind gift made right here where we live.

Appropriately inspired by this idea, I'm sure you can guess how many of these gifts we bought.

None. Zero. Zilch.

Outside of food and a clean diaper, he's not
into giving requests. 
That's Mrs. Blackwell and I. We can brainstorm some great ideas but delivering on them is another matter.

All this said, Mrs. Blackwell is on top of this year's shopping. She's already drafted a list and performed the perfunctory gesture of running it by me. She's made arrangements for many of the gifts, including wrapping and shipping.

That said, there are some gift-giving tasks I can't simply farm out to my wife. The first one that comes to mind is the gift I'm going to give my wife.

I'm not sure how that would work.

"Say, honey, here's a few bucks," you might say, while shoving a wad of crumpled bills in her hand. "Why don't you go out and get yourself something nice. And when you're done, use the fancy gift wrap. I want this to be special."

So, I've got to get Mrs. Blackwell's gift on my own. Using my imagination — and wrapping skills.

And, because she can't do everything, and because this might be the first Christmas that Master Blackwell remembers, I'll need to get him something too — lest he be left with some sort of Christmas-time trauma. We wouldn't want the boy to wake up on the morning of his 18th Christmas and unleash his pent-up issues via a murderous crime spree while dressed as Santa.

And, because Master Blackwell remembers Christmas, I'll need to get the new boy something too — lest his older brother remind him of the fact that his dear, old dad didn't love him enough to buy him a gift for his very first Christmas.

So, I've got some work to do. And I've got some of it done. Sort of.

Losing never looked so cute. 
I'm getting Mrs. Blackwell a most practical gift. I know. I know. It sounds terrible but, it's not totally without sentiment and it's most definitely thoughtful.

I don't have it in my possession yet and I'll need to wrap it but, I know what I'm getting her and that's frequently the bulk of the battle.

In addition to some toys his mom is getting him, I'm getting Master Blackwell an Etch-a-sketch.

I can tell you this because even though the boy knows how to read, he shares something in common with most folks in that he too does not read this blog. Naturally, Mrs. Blackwell is ordering this gift. (I would have done it myself but, I don't have the login info for our Amazon account.)

I'm getting the new little guy an article of clothing featuring the Toronto Maple Leafs because, like his father, he too should be acquainted with suffering from an early age.

I've got to order that last one on my own because I have a pretty specific idea what I'm looking for. Of course that means I'll have it ordered right away with plenty of time to spare. Right?

I remember being about nine years old and hoping and praying that Christmas day would just get here — in the middle of June. Now that I'm older, I want it all to slow down and it's not solely because we need more time. While we're preparing for it, I think there's part of all of us that savors it too.

The food. The drink. The parties. The ubiquity of joyful Christmas music. The terrible sweaters. There's work behind much of this but, the fruits of that labor are obviously well worth it. Otherwise we'd just get it over with and be done with it. But, what fun would that be?

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