It's Beginning to Feel a Lot Like ... <br/>You Know, Actually It's Totally Not

How Christmassy, exactly, am I supposed to be feeling? Is there some sort of Suggested Timeline of Appropriate Christmassy Sentiment that someone can send me as a PDF? Because there are 19 days left until the big day, and I'm just not getting into the swing of things yet. Every time I see Christmas lights in someone's window, I think hmm, it feels like there's something I'm supposed to be---oh wait! That's why! They have Christmas lights because it's almost Christmas! I'm feeling supremely guilty for not going to carol services and tree lightings and holiday parades. Is it awful that I'd rather stay home and watch Designed to Sell on the Home & Garden network? Is it bad that we don't have a Christmas tree? Should I get Sean to go and cut one down or something? Would that help? Would there be hot chocolate?

I made a stab at getting into the spirit of things last week when I valiantly searched out an advent calendar. Do you know how hard it is to find an advent calendar in Charleston? I had to go to five shops in my lunch hour, and since my lunch hour isn't usually so much of a lunch hour as it is a lunch fifteen minutes, this made it all the more pressing. Finally, after playing a wild goose chase with several acne-ridden but well-meaning sales clerks (why are they always acne-ridden and well-meaning?) who'd screw up their faces and muse "well, I think I've seen them in Target---but wait, maybe it was Wal-Mart, hold on, let me ask Sharon," I came back to the office and phoned every place I could think of that might possibly know what an advent calendar was, and not (hello CVS!) say "calendars? yeah, we've got calendars! Right in the back next to the planners." And that is when I made the acquaintance of Mike From Harris Teeter, to whom I am now practically engaged. Because guess what? Mike From Harris Teeter had advent calendars! And he was so pleased about it! And I was also so pleased about it! And it's possible I would have flung my arms around Mike From Harris Teeter and kissed him on the cheek if we had not been on the phone, but I had to settle for saying "oh, excellent! Oh, thank you! I've been looking everywhere for one!" and now I would not be surprised if Mike From Harris Teeter thinks that I speak exclusively in italics.

Would it be totally weird, by the way, to go back to Harris Teeter and track him down in the produce aisle or by the deli counter and thank him warmly for being so friendly and helpful, and for NOT PUTTING ME ON HOLD FOR TWENTY MINUTES, TARGET and for knowing what an advent calendar was, and for only charging me $1.99 for it? I am debating it. I feel that Mike From Harris Teeter needs to be thanked. Perhaps there is someone with whom we can set him up on a date! Any takers? I can't vouch for his apppearance, but he does have a nice phone voice---which would be excellent for long-distance!---and I bet you'd get a discount on your groceries if it all worked out.

So anyway, now I have an advent calendar. And Sean also has an advent calendar because, you know, I figured it probably wouldn't hurt to spend $1.99 on him, especially as I'd been practically making out with Mike From Harris Teeter on the phone before. But Sean's advent calendar is much better than mine, do you know why? This is going to MAKE YOU SICK, by the way. Because while I was watching The Apprentice last week, I opened each of the doors of his advent calendar very, very, very carefully, and slid a very, very, small piece of paper into each one, and on the piece of paper I'd written something I loved about him. (Are you barfing? I'm sure you are; just be careful of the furniture, please.) And now my advent calendar seems kind of shitty in comparison, because I just get chocolate, but he gets chocolate AND a reason I love him written in very, very tiny handwriting on a very, very tiny piece of paper. And all I have to say about this is that it had better mean that my Christmas present comes from Williams Sonoma.

Speaking of Christmas presents, I spent most of the weekend shopping for them. And do you know what I bought? I bought three sweaters, a cardigan, three pairs of earrings, and a top that I hope will lend me a rather Keira Knightley-ish air (without giving me the prominent jaw.) And in case you thought I was selflessly buying the three sweaters for my father or something (by the way, hi Daddy! Sorry for the swearing! Also, I'm not getting into cars with people who are drunk!) let me reinforce that I BOUGHT THESE THINGS FOR MYSELF. Going shopping with the distinct purpose of buying presents for other people, you see, is the absolute worst thing you can do, because something in you will FORCE you to buy presents for yourself instead. It's just, like, the law of the universe. Like gravity. Or Pythagoras' Theorem.

So I have a plan. We will try reverse pyschology. Before you begin your Christmas shopping this week, say very loudly, "oh my goodness, I have some extra money to spend on myself! I'm going to go out and find some new clothes!" Because WE ALL KNOW that if that was really the case and you were all excited about it and you needed a new dress for your date with Mike From Harris Teeter and you'd made it your mission to find one, YOU WOULD NEVER, EVER, EVER COME HOME WITH ANYTHING. Thus, I propose that you fake out the gods of shopping and pretend that you're on a quest to buy stuff for yourself rather than for other people, so that you can make ABSOLUTELY SURE that you don't find anything you'd feel compelled to treat yourself to. Like, say, three sweaters, a cardigan, and a top that you hope makes you look vaguely like Keira Knightley in Pride and Prejudice. Without the prominent jaw.

Dec 06, 2005

There I was, reading your witty blog and enjoying myself when all of the sudden you had to throw in "Pythagoras' Theorem." Aaaah.....the high school flash backs are killing me.

For the holiday spirit, try a little Baileys on the rocks. I predict the more you have, the more spirit you will feel.

And I am TOTALLY going to get an advent calendar and put notes in it for my hubby AND I am going to pretend it was all my idea.

Dec 06, 2005

Good luck with the reverse psychology. I tried to find an advent calendar last week and found a "Dora the Explorer" Advent calendar. Not exactly what I had in mind. I guess I'll shop on the internet...

Dec 06, 2005

Great Post! I am also finding myself lacking in "Christmas Spirit" this season. I have been pining for the tree and lights and presents, but a hectic school/work schedule (and tight budget) have kept all of these from me. I LOVE the advent idea! (Maybe I'll have to try it NEXT year? Or is there still time this year? Hmm...18 days?)

Dec 06, 2005

My daughter's kindergarten class has an advent calendar that apparently has enough room in each "day" for treats like chocolate dreidels (everyone is included!) and gumballs that look like mini-baseballs (although the teacher asked for things like stickers and pencils). I'm not sure when the Christmas spirit demanded that children get sugar treats every single day but my kids like it.

Also, just wanted to say that you crack me up.

Dec 06, 2005

Oh my God, if there is ever a Designed to Sell marathon (and you know someday there will be), I am totally driving to South Carolina to watch it with you. We shall make it a drinking game - one drink every time real estate agent Donna Freeman makes a crass remark about the state of the bathroom! Two drinks every time Clive Pearse pretends like he knows what he's doing while helping out the carpenters! THREE DRINKS EACH TIME LISA LAPORTA IS SHOWN WEARING JEANS THAT ARE RIDICULOUSLY ILL FITTING! We'll be drunk and disorderly in no time!

Dec 06, 2005

Nancy- I am a bigger copy cat than you. Want to know why? I am going to copy Holly's idea about the avent calender AND I am going to copy your idea of copying it and pretending you came up with the idea on your own!

Holly- as for the not feeling Christmassy thing. I think that it is shoved down our throats so much with advertisiments and lights and carols in gorcery stores that we are totally desensitized to it and the older we get, the more desensitized we become. This year I'm boycotting the whole shopping thing.

Dec 06, 2005

my philosophy is this: buy one for them, one for me. one for them, one for me. one for them, one for me. of course, i'm not buying the same thing of everything. maybe i'll buy a DCD player for my mom, because HEAVEN KNOWS SHE NEEDS ONE, and then i'll buy two new pairs of jeans for me. because, you know, the jeans were purchased at the same time, so it's PRACTICALLY like just one purchase for myself. and then i'll buy a golf club for my dad, and perhaps that C&B tea kettle that i've been eyeing. yes, i like that method much better than trying the reverse psychology. because when i have money burning a hole in my pocket, i'm damn-well going to spend it. just because i can. and because i NEEDED that Snowman Cake Pan.

Dec 06, 2005

I really hate to give serious assvice, but I do know how you can truly get in the holiday spirit. Volunteer to be a Salvation Army bell ringer. The first time I did it I was TOTALLY dreading it. I got roped into it and didn't want to do it AT ALL. It was freezing cold outside and my particular spot was outside. But, a commitment is a commitment so I bundled up and did it. I was amazed at how I loved it. Sure some people avoid eye contact at all costs, but many others not only give, but also tell you about how the Salvation Army helped them when they were hit with a fire/flood/tornado --- whatever. By the time I left I was totally in the Xmas spirit. OK, enough serious talk, let's get back to mocking others.

Gretchen C.
Dec 06, 2005

Trader Joe's has advent calendars every year for something like a dollar, maybe $1.99 tops. I've been buying them for my kid(s) since the late eighties.

I have bought myself so many Christmas presents I can't see straight. Everyone asks me what I want for Christmas and I say "nothing, really, there's nothing I need" -- not because I'm a nice person, just because I've already bought myself EVERYTHING.

Nothing But Bonfires
Dec 06, 2005

Gretchen, if there was a Trader Joe's anywhere near me (I think the closest is outside of DC, maybe 8 hours drive) my life would already be SO MUCH BETTER. Whenever I go to the West coast, I walk through airports with three brown paper grocery sacks filled with TJ's goodies. I'm always getting in trouble for taking up too many overhead bins. I will send, grits? collard greens?....if you send me mango chutney.

Emily, the DTS drinking game is ON. We'll be trashed JUST from drinking to designer Lisa LaPorta's ill-fitting jeans. I feel sorry for her; it looks like it would be hard for her to get pants that fit well. She's an odd shape. Yet she can make bathrooms look like magic!

Nancy, Bailey's, got it. Excellent, excellent idea. Bravo.

Dec 07, 2005

Holly, we have two kids and no tree yet. I'm not feeling it either.

Your story reminded me of an old boyfriend who worked at Harris Teeter over the summers in college. I once went to a dance at his school and ended up wearing this horrible 80s-throwback dress (that I bought new) because I couldn't find anything decent.

And I love Advent calendars.

Dec 07, 2005

I love advent calendars. Mom always used to get us ones illustrated by Tasha Tudor, with little doors hidden so we had to hunt to find them. It's been a while since I thought of them; thanks for bringing me back.

Dec 07, 2005

Your advice about psyching out the shopping gods is very VERY good; unfortunately, it comes a week too late for me, as I have purchased an ENTIRE NEW WARDROBE for myself since Thanksgiving.

And nary a Christmas present in sight! But oh my god will I be cute on Christmas day! Maybe my shiny new cuteness could be everyone's present!

I'm telling everyone it was your idea.

Dec 07, 2005

We do have Stacy downstairs, who's very generously put up a festive tree in the foyer AND a wreath on the front door. At least people going by the house will be under the impression that all who live here are positively awash with the Christmas spirit. I've made two very aggressive attempts at capturing said spirit this season; I just watched "A Charlie Brown Christmas" which used to work like a charm. However, now "someone" has decided that I need the Spanish translation scrolling along the bottom of the screen. I don't WANT to watch "A Charlie Brown Christmas" with Spanish subtitles. I don't think the cat liked it either. On Sunday I wandered down to watch the Christmas parade (after all, it was only a block away, and a downhill stroll at that). It had potential, though the bellydancers added a decidedly un-Christmasy note, as did the giant Bart Simpson. There were lots of beauty queens which made me realize that I truly do want a tiara. A small child in front of me kept yelling "Aindeers! Aindeers!" which was rather endearing, but that lost it's charm when I realized Baby Daddy was sucking down malt liquor from a brown paper bag. Yea. That really put the Christ back in Christmas for me. (I feel as if I'm channeling the Grinch). You don't suppose Greg will start playing the Manheim Steamroller Christmas album, do you?

Dec 07, 2005

I love Advent calendars! And yes, they're so hard to find in the States. A few years ago--back in the days of disposable income and no small children--I spent Thanksgiving in Salzburg, which is (who knew?) noted for its Christmas decorations. There were shops full of beautiful painted glass baubles, handworked stars, carved angels, all tiny and expensive works of art. I treated myself to a few things, one of which was a beautiful Advent calendar that I haven't been able to bring myself to use since. So I prop it up in the living room every year and look at it with satisfaction. Maybe next year I'll actually let a child open the doors, but this year they'd probably rip it to shreds, so no go.

Anyway, Merry whatever to you, and at least you got a Kiera Knightly-esqe piece of clothing out of the deal. Without the chin.

Dec 07, 2005

Oh, I remember the Advent Calendars as well. Those were always fun. And what a great idea.

I still have shopping to do. I wait until the last paycheck before payday because I hate shopping since I worked an entire decade in the mall. That is 10 Christmas seasons. 10 years of people screaming at me and pushing me and...taking deep breaths now. Maybe I'll shop online.

Dec 07, 2005

Is it that time of the season? I guess I got confused because of all of the xmas shit that got put up in mid October around here.

Dec 07, 2005

I have several things to address, as usual:
a) I live in Singapore, Mike From Harris Teeter lives in Charleston, I've been to the Harris Teeter in Charleston several times, we have much in common. I also have a nice speaking voice, I think you know where this is going...Unless he already knows the fork in the head story, which, knowing you, he probably does by now
b) Why did you get the idea to put I Love You notes in Sean's Advent Calendar while you were watching The Apprentice?? This scares me more than I'd like to say.
c) When Mike From Harris Teeter and I finally meet, I will slip I Love You notes into HIS advent calendar, but only when we meet, because if I did it now it would be like I love you for stocking the bread, and I love you for sweeping aisle three
d) I'm sure the boy/man with the very small bum at Target actually did have advent calendars, but he heard us making fun of him and suddenly "we're all out of stock"

Dec 10, 2005

Holly, you think your Christmas spirit is lacking? At least you live in a country where Santa actually has chimneys to go down! Down here near the equator the closest thing we get to snow is a cannon shooting chemical foam out of fibreglass snowman. And believe me, you don't want to catch THAT stuff on your tongue...

Dec 14, 2005

That post was just what I needed to read! I am sorta in the Christmas spirit; the tree and lights on the house are up, the cards have been mailed, and all of the presents are bought. Not wrapped, though, and I have done my baking. What is keeping me from fully embracing Christmas this year is my dear husband's family, who shall remain nameless. They keep going to stores, calling us from their cell phones, and demanding specific gift ideas for my son. Isn't part of Christmas the fun of going shopping and finding the perfect gift? Sure, lists can be helpful, but they shouldn't be expected, nor should people be harrassed repeatedly if you choose not to provide them with said list. My mom tends to subscribe to this as well, and at this point, I'd rather not get any gifts. I have a problem where I buy myself everything that I want, so there aren't many gifts left to get for me.

Sorry for the rant, but I am a fifth-grade teacher, and spending this week with all of those restless kids is starting to get to me! If they don't stop running around the room and talking incessantly, someone is going to get hurt (and I'll do the hurting)! Oh, and my room mom is not coming to the class Christmas party on Friday, because one of the other moms is stalking her. So, I get to entertain 24 kids for an hour, distribute their goodies, clean up after them, pick up all my stuff off the floor, because they are supposed to wax over Christmas break (but they won't; that floor hasn't been cleaned since July), and leave immediately after school for the airport.

I promise to drink some Kahlua- or Bailey's-laced eggnog over the weekend, forget about school, and try my damnedest to get in the Christmas spirit. My four-year-old would really appreciate it. He has an Advent calendar of sorts; it's a tree from Hallmark that hangs on the wall, and has magnetic ornaments that attach each day. There are no religious symbols on it, only secular.