There are 12 days of Christmas but I’ve managed to isolate the five or six stages of Christmas shopping, in which I go from anger to grief to acceptance.
I begin in my annual Scrooge-like denial — the grumpy vow that I haven’t got it in me any longer to fight the crowds and to try to come up with clever gifts for everyone. But somehow I stumble through the aisles yet again, a crumpled gift list clenched in my clammy hand, and come up with something that will have to make do. It may not be clever, but, by god, it’ll be smartly wrapped. This is my defiant mode.
In this stage I consider abandoning shopping altogether and begin browsing my house for things I’ve never used, or even opened, that might be disguised as Christmas gifts. The problem here is that it’s hard to think of someone who might be the right recipient of a set of steak knives I ordered off the TV set in a rash moment, or a biography of Harpo Marx I got at a library sale for $3. This is even chintzier than re-gifting, and it so depresses me that I’m finally forced to hit the stores — if not exactly running, tiptoeing.