So I had a breathtakingly unproductive adventure at the mall yesterday. I was there to my 2 hour expiration limit and had good visits with my favorite stores, yet came away empty-handed. Lots of ideas, my iPhone camera got quite a workout for things to check out online, but empty-handed all the same. M was in good spirits when I returned to the house – his usual 3-mile run turned into an adventuring 10-miler when he ran into a friend on the trails behind our house – and more than willing to go to Hobby Lobby with me to look for Christmas bling. Our 12 foot tree, acquired last year, was beautifully minimalist because we had purchased very few baubles for decorating. And because we both tend to be super particular about such things, I figured we had better start now or it was going to continue to be minimalist again this year.

No worries. Hobby Lobby, with their 50% off holiday decor and wrappings, got us off to a good start. Only $53-something later, and we had 3 rolls of wrapping paper, a bag of bows ($15 of that total), and baubles and tree-bling and other holiday decor galore.

However, I am still haunted by some alphabet letter ornaments we left behind. They had J, M, C, G, and A letters, but no K. So I had to leave them all. Only today, I now want to go to another Hobby Lobby location across town in search of the K, but that shopping will have to be delayed until tomorrow. We need a whole family grouping – all or nothing. I am nothing if not inclusive. *smile*

But we got some pretty little things. I will have to break out the camera and photograph them so you too can groan with me about Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving.

Our budget for Christmas gifts is generous – about $1500. Other than the kids (C and G) and their significant others (A and K), we really do not buy much for others. Our young friend always gets something to unwrap – usually a hoodie or a fun top – plus cash, because I believe that is what she needs most. Rest of our friends, we all have all we want and/or need and prefer to just enjoy the season getting together at frequently as we can all manage.

For the kids, I feel like the only time I get to spend money on them without guilt or feeling like a potentially controlling parent is for their birthdays and for Christmas. If and when we ever have grandchildren it will change, but for now I get to indulge myself and buy them things I know they will at least like, if not love. While I always ask if there’s anything special they want or need, the reply is nearly always “I can’t think of anything” and gives me carte blanche to do whatever I want. Some years I am absolutely uninspired and struggle, but this year, happily, is mostly not the case.

For C and K, a couple of hours online, some sales and discounts, and I’m nearly done with the two of them, including C’s birthday. For A, I’ve got some ideas and am on the hunt. For G, the most impossible person in the entire universe to ever buy for, I am keeping eyes peeled and praying. As usual.

But honestly, I’m happy to be this far along this early in the process. And I have not yet had to resort to purchasing pajamas, slippers, yoga pants, or fugly Christmas sweaters. G should be taking that as fair warning and either come up with some ideas or widen his acceptable clothing color palette.

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