Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas meltdown (almost) averted

I am a confirmed Christmas nut. It's not just the decor and the music and all that stuff, I also have issues with the "perfect gift". A few years ago I just stopped torturing myself and quit gift giving. Even between Lyle and I, we decided that we'd have more fun if we didn't buy each other gifts and instead went out the week after Christmas and bought twice as much on sale.

But it creeps back in.

This year, on the 24th of December I panic. I am technically done with Christmas. But I always feel as though I could do more. So I announce that we need to go to the mall. Breezy. We'll park at valet. Since we don't NEED to buy anything, we can just wander and laugh at people who are really panicking. Unlike us. We are professionals. We are done with our shopping. I am lying.

Halfway through our shopping I start to cry. It's the dreaded Christmas meltdown. Lyle grabs my hand and whispers that I'll be fine. He asks if we should stop for food. He tells me to breathe. We continue on and I realize that he is giving me one of my favorite gifts, enabling me. He knows I will panic if I go shopping. He knows I will panic if I stay home. He knows if he doesn't go with me, I will panic all by myself. So he agrees to come along and play along as if I am not going to have a meltdown and he manages to make it all smaller. And I love that he knew it was ll coming and came along to keep me company in spite of the fact that it can't be that much fun.

I drop him off at Border's in the cafe to feed him. I can't eat, nerves. He finishes and finds me in line to buy a couple of last minute gifts. I shoo him away. One (or both) are for him.

I know. I know we agreed in years past to not buy gifts for each other. But seriously, how sad would Christmas day be? I mean, what would Christmas be without presents under the tree? Or at our house, presents on top of bookcases (those dogs will tear open anything near head height or below).

AS we pick up the car from valet, Lyle says to me, "We're not doing gifts with each other, right?"
And there is a long pause from me where I say, "Wellllll....."
And my confessional begins, "I'm sorry, I know we normally don't, but I found a bargain or two, I didn't spend a lot of money and I bought something small for myself at the same time so that you can wrap it up and pretend you picked it out, because I just thought how sad would we both be if there was nothing to unwrap on Christmas morning?"

And then we get in the car and drive to Beverly Hills where Lyle tells me that we will find something for him to buy to give to me to for Christmas, where he is actually there when it is chosen. And since I am incredibly difficult to buy for, I will have to help him choose it.

Except its Christmas eve. And if you thought my mood was funky early in the day, you probably know what's coming the closer we get to Christmas Day. I can barely function. Everything we see is ugly. Everything we see is too expensive. Everything we see will probably be on sale on the 26th so I refuse to buy it on the 24th. Nothing is going to be right. Nothing will ever be right. And by now I'm crying on Rodeo Drive. Don't worry, I've worn sunglasses.

Battered and bruised, we've walked from Ralph Lauren to Neiman's, through Sak's and Burberry, Hermes, Gucci and Louis Vuitton. We're tired and cranky and our feet hurt. It's 3:30 and stores are closing early. We duck into our last store Ferragamo. I find a very pretty blue bracelet. It's the last one. It's on sale. It's a reasonable price and as fate would have it, too small. Luckily it's leather and has some give. Both the salesperson and I pull on it and stretch it slightly. It's fitting much nicer. This is it. This will be "the gift". Lyle gets it gift wrapped and we are on our way home.

On Christmas Day I open it and put it on. I am very happy. I love it. I haven't taken it off since then. Today I am looking at the bracelet and have an epiphany (why wait for January6th?) . It's not just that it is a very attractive accessory, what I love most about it is all the effort that went in to acquiring it. How important it was for Lyle to take care of me and fulfill my expectations for "the perfect gift". After 20 years together and many minor (and major) Christmas meltdowns, he is still there humoring me and taking care of me. And this bracelet is a stylish reminder of all that.


Anonymous said...

That is beautiful. You are very lucky to have Lyle (and I must add - that bracelet)! -Julie

A Lewis said...

Very very nice! But your story reminds me of precisely why we buy no gifts for each other nor anyone else. The pressure is off. The epxectations are off.

Christina said...

Love the bracelet.

I had a meltdown over the fact that my hubby never really buys anything for Christmas. I want him to shop for me, I want to hint and have him go pick it out. Probably should go the no gift route, but that tug at Christmas and surprising/caring for the other creeps up and then we do.

So this year.... I got the Coach bag I was dying for! Granted we ventured to the mall on Christmas Eve to make it happen - but he was insistent that I get the one I want.

Happy New Year Lyle & Jim.

Rachel said...

Muah et muah to both you! Joyeux Noel et Bonne Annee! (sp?)

Cheryl said...

You are so fortunate to have Lyle. To have found true love. To truly know someone well. You are so lucky. I envy what you two have.

Sherri said...

I guess my way to avoid the meltdown is that I gave up on perfection a long, long time ago. Now I aim for 1) a laugh 2) something useful 3) something returnable.

I just don't do perfect. I once slammed my head into a wall (leaving a dent in the drywall that may still be there) because I couldn't make Perfect happen one Christmas. I decided Imperfect was ok.

"Just David!" said...

That's too funny, what a nice guy you've got there!

jason said...

What a beautiful love story!

(You and that bracelet.:)