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The Annual Christmas Shopping Crunch

Updated on July 13, 2012
Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom is a keen observer of life. She shares her personal experiences and opinions in helpful and often amusing ways.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

I'm saying it now because there's so little time between now and Christmas. I don't care if you're reading this in January, July or November, Christmas is COMING and we've got sooooo much to doooooo! Actually, I'm assuming that you, (like most of us), are starting your holiday shopping sometime closer to the actual holiday. Say, Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving) or later. And as we all know, these are the shortest days of the year. Why then, do we (collectively) insist on cramming 39 hours of shopping/baking/wrapping/decorating/paryting into each and every day between now and December 24th? Isn't that the time equivalent of shoveling 10 lbs. of reindeer droppings into a 5 lb. sack?

Didn't we swear last year that we would never do this again and be organized next year so we could relax and enjoy the holiday season? Yeah, right. Right before we swore we'd never spend another New Year's Day hung over. Unh huh...

Seasonal Attention Defecit Disorder

I'd like to lodge an official complaint with the Department of Seasons. Seriously. Whoever thought up the concept October/November/December (aka fall) is a brown-nosing overachiever. He's risen way above his competence level. That asshole needs to be reassigned to a different department. And someone with some sanity (e.g., a working mother) should be put in charge of fall (and winter, spring and summer) activity planning.

You can bet your black patent leather Santa boots December would be a lot more pleasant with a woman in charge. No woman worth her eggnog would cram 80% of the year's social calendar into a single month. Am I right, or am I right?

Didn't we just carve pumpkins?

It seems like only last week we were carving jack-o-lanterns and sneaking Snickers out of the bowl. This week was Thanksgiving (here in the States, anyway). Yesterday was "Black Friday," which I only recently found out is called that because it is the day retail stores hope to turn a profit (e.g., move from "red" ink to "black") for the year.

From here, it is one hectic, overscheduled day after another. A frenzied, frenetic dash to the end of the year.

Are there ways to mitigate the madness? Absolutely. Every magazine cover at the checkout stand screams its own version of "have yourself a merrily stress-free holiday." I used to buy those magazines -- until I caught on. The tips are merely common sense and utterly, impossibly impractical -- unless you happen to be single, with no family obligations, and lots of money to spend pampering yourself. In other words, not me.

Don't tell me it's my own fault

I know there are people out there (perhaps a few good men, but waayyy too many women) who get all their Christmas shopping done by August. Have you noticed they always make a point of telling you that? Like this accomplishment makes them superior, or their presents any better than yours? Ok, I admit it. I am a bit jealous. I only wish I could be so on top of things.

This year I've been thinking of ways to organize myself better. My goal is to clear at least some to do's off my plate so the plate will be clean for Santa's cookies.

Here's what I came up with:

1. Online shopping. With any luck, I will not have to brave the stores at all. I can do all -- or at least the majority -- of my shopping online. With free supersaver shipping, old Santa in the brown shorts (that's the UPS man in case you didn't get it) will visit me every day! It will also save me money, as I will be less tempted by impulse buy for myself. You know that old "one gift for Johnny, one for moi,one for Jenny, one for moi" syndrome...?

2. Holiday newsletter and cards. For a brief moment I considered going digital on this longstanding tradition, too. After all, I send e-cards for birthdays, job changes, PMS support and "just because" the rest of the year. Would it be so wrong to send my annual newsletter as a PDF attachment? Actually, I think that day is coming. It's just not here yet. No, I still enjoy receiving cards and letters from friends at this time of year. No way around this one: I'm going to have to sit down and crank out my letter, hand address the cards ,and stick on the $.44 holiday themed stamps. Ouch. My writing hand feels cramped already!

3. Striking a work/life balance. Every day before Christmas is like Fridays the rest of the year. Fridays are either dead as a door nail (Jacob Marley reference there for you Dickens fans) or crazy, crazy busy. I can't remember a year when my work went dormant in December. I've always had a LOT going on. If my clients took vacation days it was only because they knew their marketing was in the capable hands of their agency elves (that would be me and the designers). One thing I have learned (the hard way) is to set better boundaries. I don't have to say "yes" to everything I'm asked -- unless it's more pie!

4. Decorating. Could this be the year of the minimalist holiday home? Yes, I think we can do that! We have boxes and boxes and boxes of decorations in the garage. But that doesn't mean we have to put out every single Christmas tsotchke we own. A 4' tree maybe instead of 8'? Skip the nutcracker collection? I don't think the quality of our celebration will suffer.

5. Cooking. Years ago my girlfriends and I used to gather to bake and exchange cookies. It was a nice ritual. They still do it, but I live 3,000 miles away. That's ok. It wouldn't be the same without them. This year I am considering doing 'something culinary' instead of buying all my gifts. Now, those of you who are paying attention will recognize that I am now contradicting myself. Yes, it's true. If I were to cook/bake or otherwise assemble something edible, I would have to go to the store to buy the ingredients. This is true. Obviously, this plan needs more thought. Note to self: Look for food gifts at but not on e-bay!

6. Exercise. Back to the advice in those magazines. They always tell you to limit your alcohol consumption during the holidays. Who are they kidding? The holidays are an open invitation to overindulge! How else are you supposed to get rid of those stupid sugar plum visions dancing around in your head? But it is important to keep your body moving to counteract all that rich holiday food. Hubby and I like to walk after dinner admiring the lights. We want to start our new year off right, not fat(ter).

Make your own traditions

I think what bothers me most about the insane pace of the holidays is that it seems to be set by some invisible force. Sort of like gravity, but instead of down, it pulls you forward through December in a blur. You come to somewhere around January 2nd and say to yourself, "What just happened? Did I miss it? Did I have any fun? Did Santa Claus come, or did I dream it?"

It takes effort to resist this force. But it can be done. There will always be added pressure at this time of year. I've learned to scale back my expectations. I've learned to simplify plans and concentrate on simple joys.

It may sound cheesy, but the Hallmark Channel shows Christmas movies every night. Hubby and I have our own collection of probably a dozen Christmas movies. We've made our own ritual of choosing which to view each night -- with a blazing fire in the fireplace, and our cats on our laps.

Come to think of it, Christmas doesn't have to be crunch time at all. If I follow my own advice, it can be downright calm and cozy! So more than likely, you will be hearing the words "Happy Holidays" from me at least one more time in the next 30 days. In fact, you can count on that!

How Do you Handle the Holidays?

Do you get caught up in the seasonal insanity?

See results


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    • profile image


      9 years ago

      great hub MM well done

    • Raven King profile image

      Raven King 

      9 years ago from Cabin Fever

      See you on the tree!

    • Mighty Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Reid 

      9 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      If the leather bag comes in January both the wife and you will be happy, as it will no doubt be on sale from pre-Christmas prices:-)! And yes, that is how you spell tsotchke. I looked it up before I wrote it and again to make sure. :-). MM

    • Jess Killmenow profile image

      Jess Killmenow 

      9 years ago from Nowheresville, Eastern United States

      I voted that the holidays don't faze me, but it's not really fair because I'm Jewish. Is that really how you spell, "tsotchke"? Anyway, my wife wants a leather bag, but there is no tree, no Hanukkha morning, so if it comes in January it's still all good. No stress.

    • TiradesLoveLaugh profile image


      9 years ago from Everywhere

      Love this hub!

    • Hendrika profile image


      9 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      I love the holidays, I cannot afford do do as much as I would like to, but for me the magic never fades.

    • successfulblogger profile image


      9 years ago from Los Angeles,Ca

      It involves a great deal of hustle and bustle. It is all worth it in the end.

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 

      9 years ago

      We have our own version of this in India, where the 'festive season starts somewhere in September and moves relentlessly through to December! Fortunately I'm not one of the traditionalists who need everything to go by the book so I'm pretty much stress free...till long forgotten clients start waking up in December and want everything to be done yesterday!!

    • profile image

      a beer drinker 

      9 years ago

      I just give her the money, say that's that, get something for everyone. Then I say, shut up, what can I do? Pimp myself? In that case I would probably have to offer refunds for poor performance problems. Seeing no light in my stubborn budget wall, she mopes around, comes to her senses, goes shopping and in the meantime, decides to punish me in the classic passive aggresive style of women everywhere. That little tactic will last until the new year. That's okay. I got my beer.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Fun article and oh so true. Thank you. Always threaten to do less, but still manage to put on an almost

      Hollywood production.

    • Randy Behavior profile image

      Randy Behavior 

      9 years ago from Near the Ocean

      I'm not allowed to rant cause I'm in retail. Thanks for doing it for me.

    • Mighty Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Reid 

      9 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hello friends! So glad I was able to strike a chord withso many hubbers. I really did not mean to be a Scrooge. I do like the holidays. I think I would like them better if they moved to January! Cheers!!

    • Muderboy profile image


      9 years ago from Glendale, AZ

      Christmas... the best of times and the worst of times. It fly's by so fast and leaves us all gasping as it takes it's toll. You didn't mention the football season, which I think adds even more speed to the equation. Hey, maybe it's just a guy thing, I don't know.

      Your hub was spot on and quite witty and fun, as always. An oasis in the face of the chaos that is December. May we all emerge intact, once again and live to fight another year, or... hang in there, it could be worse. Happy Holidays to you and yours...

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      First of all I have to say your avatar is a hottie! YOU GO GIRL!!!!! And second I agree that it is a hecktic time of year and I can already see the mad chaos at the stores today when I went shopping. Its ridiculous and everyone waits to the last minute to get everything they need. I am sure the Online Shopping is good but from my own experience working as Customer Service Manager and Office Manager at a place that only sold ONLINE merchandise,...its crazy and alot of times orders get mixed up or sent to the wrong place or the wrong items are sent because X-mas time is the most busy time all year for most online retailers and they hire additional "seasonal" workers for the warehouses thus meaning there is going to be shipping errors. So I just at your own risk! Its a heck of a time getting replacements or refunds..I know I used to be the one who handled that too!

    • ehern33 profile image


      9 years ago

      Great huib, really enjoyed the frenetic tone of your writing..LOL If you put so much thought into the season, you are definetely going to have a successful one. Not sure about the stress free though. I doubt that you can change it because I really think you enjoy it. Merry Christmas to you and yours..

    • Pollyannalana profile image


      9 years ago from US

      Yes I think Christmas is losing its true meaning and I buy all year round and go for sentimental rather than pricey or to impress gifts. As I go through the year I look for things that just has someone's name on it in my heart. I really hate to see people who dread what should be the most wonderful day of the year...along with Easter.

    • Juicy Ones profile image

      Juicy Ones 

      9 years ago

      I'm an outward "humbug" festive frustrate, smply because I can't get organised. Or rather, I just don't want to do all the work involved. Think it's just me and my angel this year as our children (and their children)are in different countries, but thank goodness for skype. Have a good one MM and keep up the hubs

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Something very strange is happening. A couple days ago, I posted a comment on this hub - a positive one...and nothing. I don't see it on here, and no response. I posted a new hub about computers on Saturday, and have had only one response, from a frind I hyperlinked it to, but none from any hub buddies. Have I been somehow blackballed?

      You don't have to approve this, but could you please send me an answer of some sort. Either by email johnrasor @ cox .net - I did it this way so as not to creat a link, so just put it together - or a comment on my latest hub... Thanks... John (Muderboy)

    • Mighty Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Reid 

      9 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Steve, It would be fascinating to do a psychological study of Christmas habits. Lots of guilt. Even our giving to charities and other "help" orgs is too often motivated by guilt.

      That is a very powerful video. LOVE IT. Had already decided this year will be more like that in our house.

      Bless you. And thanks for sharing the real spirit of the season. MM

    • Steve Orris profile image

      Steve Orris 

      9 years ago from NE Ohio

      I really enjoyed this hub, complete with a reference to reindeer poop! LOL

      I think the reason we do things is as important as what we do.

      Are we busy to accomplish something (closer family, better relationships) or are we spinning our wheels because we are told too by the corporations that profit from it? Really now, if companies offered what people truly need at a fair price why does it take them over 10 months to make a profit?

      I'm trying something different this year. Don't hold me to it but - it is something I am really working on and hope to accomplish. For every dollar I spend on Christmas stuff, decorations, gifts, etc. I will give away a dollar to someone who really needs it. Watch this video. Maybe you will see why.

    • Mighty Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Reid 

      9 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      hello dear friends. I'm late in getting back on to thank each of you individually for your comments. What I see is that -- no surprise -- you hubbers are way ahead of me in the regaining holiday sanity dept. Should have known!

      It's a good thing. Because if we all spend our days acting like Martha Stewart wannabes, we won't have time for what's REALLY important during the holidays -- reaching out to our FRIENDS. TGFHP (Thank God For Hub Pages!). MM

    • Teresa McGurk profile image


      9 years ago from The Other Bangor

      Oh, too funny, and too true. I always try to avoid getting caught up in the rush. It never works.

    • kartika damon profile image

      kartika damon 

      9 years ago from Fairfield, Iowa

      MM, OMG! Love it - you made me laugh!

      I must agree with lmmartin - I do as little as possible these days, and it's easy that way! A nice meal with friends and a few gifts exchanged - no son is a grown up! That said - your approach is hilarious as usual! tra la la - ha ha ha - tis the season for true insanity!

    • lmmartin profile image


      9 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      I'm one of those who decided, years ago, I wouldn't buy into it -- the buy!buy!spend!spend! part. My grandchildren have so much and get so much that one more gift from me won't be noticed. I wait until I am with them, and take them out to choose their own gifts. I'm asked by some around me, all breathless with exertion as they try to live up to some holiday fantasy, "Are you ready for Christmas?" I'm always ready. The day consists of a nice meal with whomever happens to be around.

      Contrary to programming from the media -- we don't HAVE to follow the crowd, make the day about gifts and spending. Since I dropped out of the holiday rat race, the day has become a spiritual time, one where I have the luxury of relaxation and reflection on the true meaning of the day.

      A very amusing but true view of the season. Good luck and best wishes to all.

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 

      9 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      I forgot how funny you were! Don't stay away so long. I need a good laugh once and a while. Great hub.

      "...we insist on cramming 39 hours of shopping/baking/wrapping/decorating/paryting into each and every day between now and December 24th?"

      I shop on line and have my assistant Innkeeper trim the tree, bake cookies, and decorate. And my daughter's cooking Christmas dinner this year. Sorry, but I do remember those days!! TeeHee And, remember, I'm in my seventies

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Two years ago we started doing stocking stuffers only as gifts and bringing potluck dishes for Christmas dinner. I still buy for my only grandchild (duh!) but apart from that, we scaled way back and wow, did it ever make the day more enjoyable.

      My son-in-law always springs for prime rib which he takes a lot of pride in cooking (it's delicious) and the rest of us bring sides and desserts. On Bill's side we have brunch, not necessarily on the 25th but close enough for jazz, and we all pitch in.

      I was getting to the point where I hated Christmas. Now it's fun again. I haven't sent cards in years. Great hub! You really gave me a laugh. I hear ya. :)

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Blink your eyes a couple of time and it's all over for another year (which is also just a few blinks it seems) as the whole hullabaloo starts all over once more... I love it, love it, love it

      once again a fab hub MM

      wanna go shopping?

    • Terrapanthera profile image


      9 years ago from The Netherlands

      Hey Mighty Mom! Nice hub. Here in the Netherlands it is exactly the same (or worse). However, what bothers me most is the impact it has on young children. It's not all fun for them. It's stressful and I am always happy that it is January again. It would be nice to have Christmas in February....

    • advisor4qb profile image


      9 years ago from On New Footing

      This hub was too cute. And just what I needed right now, a little humor. Thanks, Mighty Mom!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      9 years ago from Sunny Florida

      This is a great hub. It does seem like Christmas comes so fast. I try to keep is simple but that all depends on how whether or not I'm doing Christmas dinner. Have a wonderful stress free Christmas.

    • wsp2469 profile image


      9 years ago from Alta Loma, Ca

      I know. I'm happy for what I have. I just wish I had more for my kids and wish and hope my older kids get over the whole mood they're in and find a few hours for their actual father and younger half brother.

      Oh, and you really should stay OUT of those religious forums if they actually GET to you. If the people want to stand on soapboxes so much let them actually sit down and write a hub.

      By the way, Cooke2cook says she loves Pollyanna!

    • Mighty Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Reid 

      9 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hi Dohn -- You are such a positive, positive person. I so appreciate you! Thanks!

      wsp -- Everyone can AFFORD Christmas. It's not about money/presents. I will have to write another hub about the spirit part but not right now as I'm not feeling very spiritual after arguing about "killing babies" in the religion forum!

      I am very sorry to hear that your family is sort of not all together this year. Kids can learn to scale back their expectations, too. I hope I don't sound like Pollyanna, but i have really found that giving back to others makes my life and troubles seem pretty small in comparison. I like the metaphor you've got going -- you DO have a roof, even a new one, over your head.As do I. And four cats, not just two cats in the yard. Life used to be so hard and it still is. But it could always be worse.

      Cheer up and be Bill Murrary (Scrooged). K?

    • wsp2469 profile image


      9 years ago from Alta Loma, Ca

      Hey, two women in my life talking about me when I'm not here. Gee, it's almost like being married again! (Sorry. I didn't really mean that--lol!)

      As to your hub, all I can say is if you can AFFORD Christmas this year focus on THAT plus! I might not get to see two of my kids this Christmas because my daughter may not WANT to see me and my oldest son might not CARE about seeing me and my youngest son who lives with me might not have much of a Christmas since his grandparents just put a new roof on my house, his mom will be out of a job by Christmas and I still don't have a FT job. (My writing only takes care of keeping a roof over our heads right now.)

      Oh well, not gonna cry like a sis. I guess we should all just be glad if we live to see another Christmas, right? Being alive is something to be happy about, right?

    • dohn121 profile image


      9 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Thanks, MM, for an awesome hub. I love your antics and your no-holds-barred approach to everything under the sun. You are, afterall, MM, right?

      Here's to your success and all of the Thank Yous that people may have forgotten to give to you as a courtesy and by the way...Happy Holidays :D

    • Mighty Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Reid 

      9 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hi cooke2cook. Yes, wsp is a trip. I cannot imagine how wild it must be working together every day. Although, perhaps he is more normal in real life then his HP persona!

      Thanks for visiting. Happy holidays to you as well. MM

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I am a fan through your online friend wsp2469. I believe you know we write together almost daily. I saw you had a new post and just had to check it out. I am sure he will be coming up with one here soon. You two are like a tag team. Happy holidays to you and yours!


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