Happy New Year! I hope everyone is enjoying this first day of 2011. I am spending this day in a sweatsuit, doing as little as possible, relaxing to the sound of the rain falling, and feeling a general sense of relief. This relief is not just that the previous year is over and I have outwitted the "dark cloud" for another trip around the sun, but also that the gift-giving season is over.
|(one of the early-morning freaks)|
What? Like none of you have more than one voice in your head?
Regardless, Inside Voice #2 and Cool Daddy (me) have a grand time for the next few weeks. During this time of year there are parties, football tailgating, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and various other celebrations to attend. Suddenly it is mid-December, and I haven't bought a single gift. The pressure and stress does not build gradually throughout this period of time. It waits and just hits all at once, usually the day that I need to give my first gift. I try to coax out Inside Voice #1 to help me with some ideas, but he is sulking and smug and will not say anything. Inside Voice #2 is bloated, hungover, and has settled in for a long winter's nap, leaving me periously on my own.
In a panic, I usually head to one store and try to buy all 30 gifts there. I frantically look through the already picked over selection and justify why my aunt Daisy would love a plastic fern stuffed inside a tea kettle, and tell myself that Aunt Adelene really needs a "Hotter Than Hell and Your Mama" hot sauce collection. I convince myself that all my cousins would love a nice Chia Pet for thier home.
Inside Voice #1 finally got his revenge on me a few years ago inside a Target in Daytona Beach, Florida. I had waited until the evening before I was to drive to Kentucky for Chrismas before doing any shopping. I went into the store with the intention of buying every gift I needed. I fought the crowd, I jerked sweaters out of an elderly man's hands, and I pushed my cart as if I were at the Daytona Nascar racetrack across the street.
All of this had put me in a sour mood, and I was ready to just get my gifts purchased, along with a bunch of gift bags, and get the heck out of there. While rounding the corner with my cart that was overflowing, I glanced over at the Men's department. Inside Voice #2, of course, piped in that if I was getting all of this stuff, I should get myself something as well. "Cool Daddy, why spend all this time and money if you aren't able to have any of it for yourself?" he said. Inside Voice #2 is a stinker, and I always listen to him.
I had stood in the checkout line making noises, rolling my eyes, and generally being an ass for over half an hour with a completely empty cart. No wonder no one would make eye contact with me and were shielding small children from me. It finally struck me that when I left my cart to go check out the Men's clothes, I must have inadvertently grabbed the wrong one when I decided to head out. I then started laughing. It was a hearty, full-on laugh. Now the ass who had complained and "Sheooooowwaaaahhhed" at everyone while standing in line with an empty cart was frantically laughing. I tried to explain to the clerk, but she just asked me to please move on so the people who actually had items to purchase could do so. I think she was also pushing the hidden security button.
I gathered myself together, went back and found the correct cart, which was still in the same place as I had left it, and started over in the check out line. This time, I said nothing about the wait. Other than an occassional giggle, I was on my best behavior. The clerk looked frightened when she saw it was me again standing in front of her, but she was relieved to see actual items in my cart.
The next October, as soon I started feeling that shopping feeling start, Inside Voice #1 simply whispered, "This year, Cool Daddy, let's do it all online." This time, I listened.