Hi neighbors. Christmas is just around the corner and I hope you have your shopping done and can sit down and have a cup of coffee before the visitors start showing up.
How many of you will be headed "over the river and through the woods" to visit Grandma's house?
How many others of you live in Grandma's house? Better put a light in the window because the family will be coming along shortly. And they will come hungry.
Women understand about having their own "dish" that everyone expects them to prepare for every family gathering.
If you have a large immediate family; or a large extended family, you already know what specialty dish you will be cooking for Christmas.
What about Christmas gifts? Does your family usually know what you are giving them? Maybe it's time to change it up a little. I know throughout the years Flossie has always given the men in her family shaving lotion and she always gave the boys socks. Women got gloves and girls got mittens. The only surprise for the boys and girls was waiting to see what year Flossie determined they were old enough to move from one category to the other.
That may sound pretty tame for presents, but we all knew not to buy those items from November 'till Christmas. Of course, she always would let us know what she wanted, too.
Depending on her current obsession through the years, we were told to all get either large packages of toilet paper (recession proofing her bathroom) or canned goods (to survive years of crop failures) and the ever popular ammo for her pistol in case martial law goes into effect.
For 2012, just in case the Mayans were only partially right and we all do get to celebrate Christmas while waiting to see if 2013 reaches us; we have all been commanded to gift her with over-the-counter pain relievers, cold medication and bandages.
I have always tried to resist the temptation to tell my children what I want for Christmas. I just like being surprised more than I need any particular thing as a gift. They usually come up with something amazing.
On the other hand I always insist they give me a list with at least five choices. They then get something from the list and something else they hadn't thought of -- and might not want -- but I thought they should have: new socks for instance.
In Christmases past, they would find new school supplies in their stockings as the second half of the school year would soon begin and most of their supplies were getting pretty low.
They get tired of hearing about my childhood Christmases; but I tell them every year anyway just so they know how good they have it now.
My brother and I would each receive one "big" gift and then the rest would be odds and ends: new socks for instance or new school supplies. (You'd think they see where the idea of getting them new socks every year came from, right?) Because all us Baby Boomers know that gifts should be practical as well as functional, with only one fun gift per person per Christmas.
Where did we get that idea from? From our parents of course. And from having to hear their sad tales every Christmas about how they would only get socks -- and be grateful -- because socks were handmade or store-bought with hard earned money.
I don't think my parents ever got toys for Christmas as children. If they did they never mentioned any toys -- only socks.
So if you have children to buy for this year -- get your stories told before you let them start opening gifts. Remind them that Christmas isn't about getting a lot of useless "stuff" but about families trying (with great difficulty in hard economic times) to provide necessities for their children, school supplies for their education, food for the table, clothes to wear on their backs and soft toilet paper for the restroom.
When they complain because they didn't get the newest, smartest, phone; a laptop computer; an electronic gaming machine or whatever: tell them they will get socks -- and be grateful.
If they just make you feel guilty about not using that credit card; stand your ground. You really have no excuse for getting cold feet. Merry Christmas!