Countdown to Christmas 16 days
I don't do gifts. Actually I do gifts. I don't do Christmas gifts. I just spent $200 on Christmas gifts last weekend. I don't do Christmas gifts like I used to and I don't put the same expectations on them that I used to. I go to stores and stand there with my hands on things, panic, and run from the store...
Christmas gift giving is a minefield for me.
I have this problem in my brain that I am required to buy you a gift for as close to $20 as possible, that sums up how I feel about you and what you have meant to me over the past year or lifetime. A lifetime of love, caring and sentiment wrapped up for around $20. No, my expectations aren't a little off. They're COMPLETELY WHACKED.
About ten years ago I had done the impossible. I had gone out and found THE PERFECT gift for everyone in my family, brothers, sister, mother, father, wives, husbands, nieces, nephew and grandmother. I had also done the same for my husband's family. EVERYONE on both sides of our families had been purchased the PERFECT gift. The PERFECT gift had then been PERFECTLY wrapped and PERFECTLY packed for shipping to the farthest flung places on the earth from Los Angeles: Seattle and Northern Alberta.
There was on little problem, I hadn't finished this task on December 1st. I had finished it on December 21st.
There was a lesson I had learned years before, there are few problems money can't solve. I drove over to FedEx to get my parcels to their destinations overnight. Problem solved.
On the 22nd, I was waiting to hear that the package had arrived. I checked the tracking system and the packages... were still in LA. My heart began to race. This can't be. This is wrong. I paid to get them there OVERNIGHT. But apparently I had no control over the packages once I let go of them and FedEx explained that they had no control over the Snow storm that had crippled their distribution center in Tennessee.
Breathe I told myself. It's only the 22nd. You've got 2 more days.
The packages moved overnight, Hooray! They moved to San Francisco, Boo!
I monitored the packages all day on the 23rd. San Francisco, San Francisco, San Francisco... then one package moved... EDMONTON! One package had made it out of the country! And then it was held by customs.
So there I was on the 24th, Christmas Eve. One package was in Edmonton waiting to be released by customs so it could make it's last leg of the trip another 5 hours away by truck. It absolutely, definitely wasn't gong to be there on time.
The other package was still in San Francisco waiting for a group of friends to be released from Tennessee to join it and make it's final trip to Seattle. Apparently it didn't want to travel alone. Tennessee still had snow issues.
I'd had it. I phoned FedEx and began to rip into whoever had the misfortune of answering the phone. I can't write what I said to them, mostly because I don't remember. I know I used my scary low mean voice. I know I was sarcastic. I know I pleaded. And I recall saying this phrase, "You have ruined my Christmas. This is the worst day of my life. I don't care how awful I am to you, my life is over and if I'm going down, I'm taking as many of you people as I can down with me!"
That's when Lyle took the phone away from me by force.
I ran to the bathroom and cried until I threw up. Then I held onto the cold porcelain of the toilet to dry my tears and cool my face. Lyle came in to give me a status update,
The Alberta package has cleared customs. It will be personally walked from FedEx to the last passenger plane leaving for Grande Prairie tonight. My sister Cheryl will meet that plane and those presents will arrive on time.
The Seattle package will arrive on Christmas morning. The distribution center will be open from 8 am to noon. Your brother in law will drive down and pick up the package so that your gifts will be opened on Christmas day.
This is the last year. The last year we are doing this. Get your shopping done by December 1st, or we are doing online gift certificates for everyone.
And then he left me to wash my face off and pull myself together.
When I came out to my beautifully decorated home, there was Christmas music playing, candles lit and a 24 piece chocolate champagne truffle box on the dining room table. Lyle opened a bottle of expensive champagne he had been saving for Christmas day, "I think we need this now," he said. We sat and looked at the tree, the presents under the tree, our dogs and our $200 meal of just champagne and chocolates. "Is this dinner?" I asked. "Costs more than most people are having tonight, so yes. Bon appetite."
That was the last year I did FedEx for Christmas. It's not really fair to the workers of FedEx to put my pressure on them. It was also the last year I bought for everyone. I still buy gifts. I buy things as I see them, I put them in the closet and save them. I give them out whenever I feel like it. My relationship with Christmas gifts is complex, it's not fair, and now that I've confessed my sins here in this public forum, I need a drink and chocolate truffle.