Watts Line

  • Thursday, December 27, 2007

My guy and I went out this weekend to finish up our shopping. We left the house at 11 a.m.

We bought the annual Christmas supply of socks, T-shirts, pajama pants and fireworks - the little extras we've always added to the mix, and that our brood has come to expect along with their "real" presents.

Somewhere in there we also had lunch. By the time we decided to pack it in, we were tired and felt like we'd used up the whole day.

I looked at the clock.

"Guess what time it is," I said.

"It's still daylight, but it's gotta be late. I'm beat. Close to 5?" he guessed.

"Three o'clock," I said.

"That can't be right." He glanced over at me like I must be crazy (not an atypical look as it turns out) before eyeing the car clock. "How did that happen?"

We had purchased all but a few of the items on our list in less than a few hours. Granted I had already done a lot of it, but that doesn't usually matter.

In the past when the Hubster and I have gone Christmas shopping it has always been a marathon that includes three meals and the closing down of stores. We've actually had to get the store guards to open the doors for us so we could get out. There were times we joked about hiding in the mall so we could finish shopping overnight and check out in the morning. Fortunately, we never went that far.

There were years that we spent entire weekends lugging unhappy children for hours through toy stores, clothing stores, fast food restaurants (in the days before food courts and play zones -- hard to imagine) and keeping them going with promises of movies later.

And of course the trip usually involved waiting in a long line of equally stressed families to talk to Santa. How many hours did we spend in that endeavor? There were times I wasn't sure who was crankier, the kids or us. (But I cherish the photos of our little guy-kids sitting on Santa's lap, even if the event itself was often less than fabulous.)

As the years have slipped on by, our list has shortened with the loss of beloved fathers. I still have the urge to buy mine a fishing lure or shirt every year, then have to remember his story is told, his last gift received. He continues only in our memories and the retelling of favorite family tales that include him.

But we have added new people to our list as well with the much-loved young women in our man-children's lives. I have a wonderful time shopping for them since our own guy-kids were not into frilly shirts and tights. I satisfy the frustration born of buying nothing but khaki pants, blue shirts and navy blazers in increasing larger sizes, by choosing the really cute stuff I can't wear but the girls can.

So the years have changed our shopping needs, and I like to think we've gotten better at it as well. We are organized, with a list and a clear idea of what we are going for, yet flexible enough to know when we need to cut our losses and move on to another idea.

The getting ready is easier. The gathering of the gifts is no longer the ordeal it once was, the kids don't have to be dragged from store to store. We come home before we are ready to collapse.

We will welcome the children as they come to join us for the celebration. We will visit with our mothers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins, and the friends who complete our family circle.

And just I and mine plan to have, I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas!

Contact Judy Watts at 873-9424 ext. 220 or jwatts@journalscene.com.

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