I get HUGE when I'm pregnant and my back hurts and I waddle. Christopher starts making fun of my outfits, specifically my Birkenstalks and black stretch pants which become my uniform, and I lose my sense of humor (that usually falls by the seventh month). When I was pregnant with Phoebe, expecting a baby the week before Christmas (she was born two days after Christmas), I decided to get all my Christmas shopping done by Halloween. That was the best Christmas ever. I wasn't distracted by all the shiny lights and mark-downs, ("Hey, what about THIS? No, THAT! No! THIS is BETTER!"). I've tried to keep the tradition ever since and I highly recommend it. But I guess it's too late for that now, slackers, because even Thanksgiving has come and gone.
The oddest present I ever got was a severed dreadlock from a boyfriend. He cut off a really long black dreadlock that resembled a fat caterpillar and put it in a zip-lock bag with a long letter. I'd like to say that at the time it was romantic, but even then it was a little bit creepy. I found it years later, among a trunk full of earnest journal entries. It scared me half to death at first, but then it brought back really funny memories. Christopher said it was disgusting and told me to throw it away. I like to think it was because he was jealous, but I'm sure it was more of a question of hygiene.
I haven't made my mind up about the whole giving a practical gift versus a frivolous one. It's hard enough to distinguish between wants and needs anyway and the holidays intensifies that dilemma for me. Sure, I'd love a food chopper, but will my heart leap when I open it Christmas 'morn? Maybe. (I melted my old one when I left it on a hot stove, so do I really deserve a new one? How will I learn?) Do I really need Star Wars Episodes I, II, and III? How often will I watch them? If I break it down per viewing will I earn it back after a year?
I also don't have a firm policy on neighborhood gifts. Do I give them to all the neighbors? How far down the street is appropriate? Do I give them to people who will give US treats? What about my First Nation neighbors? They haven't returned any of the items they've borrowed. . . so should we just call it even? I hate that awkward, "Oh, thanks for the treat! Merry Christmas! I've got YOUR treat. . .right. . .here. . . justaminute. . .lemme go. . .find . . .it. . ." It may be better to give than to receive, but sometimes it's just easier to not give and hope not to receive.
I do have strong feelings about some holiday gift-giving that might be of use to you:
1. No homemade coupons (20 minute back-rub, mow the lawn, etc). It's just a certificate that says "I forgot, and hopefully you will."
2. No Bratz dolls (Barbie's slutty cousin with low self-esteem).
3. No shopping on Black Friday (is that $20 you saved worth a piece of you that just died inside?)
Hope that helps! Merry Christmas everyone!