So I am pushing a cranky Buddha Baby through the mall one day and suddenly it dawns on me: I still have to do my Christmas shopping!
Now I love Christmas as much as the next person. The happy music, the pretty decorations, the warm family gatherings. There really is nothing like it. What I can’t stand though, is the shopping. Doing it feels like a chore and I never feel like I am buying quite the right thing for anybody.
As I am walking along thinking about it, I actually start to get really stressed up, realizing that not only must I do everything I did last year (come up with gift ideas for everyone, and then spend a month tracking those items down) I must do so while taking care of my unpredictably moody child!
At this point I wonder why having a baby doesn't exempt a person from having to do any Christmas shopping at all. After all, why should I have to endure the same lineups and dawdling mall walkers as the next childless single guy? I don’t have time for that. I have a baby! It hardly seems fair.
In my former life, I hated women like me. I would have called the future me self-centered and smug. (You know the type. She’s the pregnant lady who doesn’t go out anymore, simply because she’s pregnant.) For years I complained about this lady until one day I realized: I am her! And now that I have a baby, this new type of attitude doesn’t seem smug at all. It just seems reasonable.
For the rest of the day, I stress myself out trying to think of amazing gift ideas for people. There’s nothing more awkward than giving someone a gift and then seeing the hidden disappointment in their forced smile as they receive yet another pair of slippers. ("I only have eight pairs, but it's okay!" They'll say through gritted teeth.)
By the time Practical Joe comes home from work, I have exhausted myself trying to come up with clever gift ideas for everyone. (“Would my brother-in-law enjoy a banjo?”)
“What do you want for Christmas?” I ask PJ as soon as he walks through the door.
“I want my life back,” he responds.
(I know exactly what he means.)
“What do you mean,” I say? (I’m not about to let on.)
He tells me he wants to play video games in the basement like the old days.
“Done," I say, as I cross him off the list. "As long as you do it while the baby is sleeping," I add.
He rolls his eyes.
“Now don't you want to know what I want?” I say.
"I'm sure you're going to tell me."
Indeed I do.
I tell him that I want him to do the Christmas shopping this year. I’m sure everyone will end up with a gift card to Tony Roma's or some other God awful place, but I don’t even care.
I want my life back.