On the enjoyable rollercoaster ride that comprises my holiday seasons, Thanksgiving is the coaster’s apogee preceding the blinding plunge down through Christmas and into the New Year.
On the enjoyable rollercoaster ride that comprises my holiday seasons, Thanksgiving is the coaster’s apogee preceding the blinding plunge down through Christmas and into the New Year. We’re now rolling downhill, accelerating by the minute.
When I was a kid, that holiday carnival ride ran in reverse. The distance from Thanksgiving to Christmas was more of a climb. Time slowed to a trot and then to a walk and finally to a creeping crawl through the final interminable 24 hours.
I’ve written before that the sweetest morsels of holidays have moved away from the present and now nestle entirely in my mind. I dust off those memories every year, thankful I’ve kept them where I can still get to them and wishing I’d collected more when I had the chance.
My immediate relatives are dead and my kids grown up, so fuel to reignite yuletide pleasures is scarce. One source of emotional kindling my wife Ann and I found is “adopting” children through the school.
Kids recognized by teachers as needing a little extra joy at Christmastime complete a list of “needs” and “wants.” There’re no names revealed, recipients are designated by a number.
Last year we got a ton of pleasure out of shopping for somebody who really needed or wanted stuff we could buy. Like most of you, over the years we’ve spent a ton of money on pure junk to give to folks who surely didn’t need more junk, regardless of its purity.
Unlike buying to merely fulfill obligations, shopping for a kid who “needs” a warm coat is an absolute joy. We don’t know names but do know whether they’re boys or girls, plus applicable sizes for shoes and clothes on their lists.
This year we got a 7-year-old girl and 5-year-old boy. I’m clueless about their individual situations, but if fulfilling these modest needs and wants will make their season brighter, this one should be a humdinger for both.
“Our” little girl was fairly specific about her clothing wishes as most women tend to be. Being Ann’s department, she searched rack to rack, shelf to shelf for sizes and styles.
I was no help whatsoever. Ann would hand me something asking what I thought. I’d say “great” and put it in the cart.
Shopping for the boy was more my area of expertise. Ann did his clothes but I took charge of the toy decisions.
I filled a buggy with rangers, hulks, monsters and things too weird to figure out. Whatever happened to basic cowboys and Indians?
We give to friends and family, but Ann very ably takes care of all that. Throughout the year she keeps an eye peeled for unique or useful things for those on our list.
She’s finished before most people start and spends no time whatsoever standing in lines. I don’t have to worry about anything, “Joy to the World!”
Ann owns a magic iPad and shops using her special alphabet formula: QVC plus UPS and USPS raised to the power of V-I-S-A equals “Ding-Dong!”
Otis Gardner’s column appears weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.