Last Christmas Eve, a friend invited our friends group to his apartment for a casual, potluck, holiday social gathering. As we settled into the living room, the host nervously excused himself. We heard boxes being dropped and paper crinkling in his bedroom. Minutes later, the host appeared in the room with an obviously hastily wrapped package which he placed beneath the Christmas tree, alongside the gifts we guests had brought.
We politely steered our conversation away from the host’s last minute gift wrapping. Our host, who will remain unnamed here, is infamous for his habitual procrastination. He once again, clearly waited until it was almost too late to take care of his shopping chores.
I’m guessing that if we wait until the last minute to complete our gift shopping and wrapping, we do so because we’re fulfilling an obligation. In some instances, we buy the gifts because this is the social norm. Such gifts substitute the act of getting or making a present out of a sense of love or admiration for the recipient.
There are other reasons, too. Perhaps a person’s schedule is filled to overflowing with job and family duties. Hopefully, such folks do not feel an overwhelming sense of obligation around the holidays. In any case, last minute gifting can feel quite awkward for the giver and the recipient.
I’ve been guilty of last-minute holiday shopping in the past. This was mainly because the 50 or 60 hour work weeks left me too exhausted to do anything but eat, sleep, and work. I had to squeeze in time to send greeting cards, shop for gifts, wrap them, and, if necessary, mail some of them. Procrastination is something I try hard to avoid, but sometimes it just must happen.
I eventually learned to provide a lengthy time cushion for holiday obligations. I began to take advantage of “Christmas in July” sales promotions. Meaningful gift items are budget priced, and plentiful in the summer. New, last year’s stock, greeting cards can be had for half-price or less. I wrap gifts in July and stash them away until they’re brought out in December. It’s a comforting feeling to be prepared for the December holidays several months ahead of time.
My crafting friends have the same mindset. They sew or complete craft projects early in the year so the gifts are ready way ahead of time. A few years ago, my pal Andrew knitted a cozy sweater for me during the summer. A lot of planning and work went into that garment. Andrew is not a wait until the deadline sort of guy. He allows plenty of time so he can easily deal with adjustments and changes. Andrew’s gift is still a go-to sweater I enjoy wearing in the winter.
I posit that the holiday season is so overwhelming because it’s rush time. People try to cram a lot of last-minute duties and obligations before the end of the year. By early January, we’re worn out and just want to rest. That said, many people work best under pressure. For some reason, they get into the right mood with last-minute panic. A rapidly approaching deadline causes their creativity to explode. It’s amazing to know people who work that way. I wonder how they keep their wits about themselves.
I work best with a generous time-cushion. For example, this blog post was written a week early. The WordPress scheduling function has been a big help. After all, despite my best efforts, there are still a few last-minute duties to take care of before the 25th.
I hope you enjoy happy, healthy holidays.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes “Calvin and Hobbes” cartoonist, Bill Watterson. “A day can really slip by when you’re deliberately avoiding what you’re supposed to do.”