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The Perils of Christmas Shopping

     The little red reindeer stood proudly on the coffee table, its head held high, hoofs ready to prance at the press of a button. I was visiting my niece Kathy, a real Christmas buff. If it walks, talks, sings or dances—or does all four at once—you'll find it under her gaily decorated Christmas tree or waiting on the carpet for small nieces, nephews or children of friends to arrive.

     So it was with great joy that I'd found the perfect gift for Kathy. I ordered it; it arrived; I checked to make sure it was working. Paul, Christy and I laughed as it pranced across our floor, singing its Christmas song. I couldn't resist calling Kathy to tell her I'd found the perfect present for her.  "Can't wait to give it to you,' I said.

     Shortly after—as fate would have it—I stopped in to see her for a quick chat. And that's when I spied the reindeer on her coffee table. Uh-oh. When Kathy left the room for a few minutes I quickly checked it out. Yep! Exactly the same as the one I'd bought for her.

     What now? She shops at Target. I shop online. It never occurred to me she'd already have this one. I considered giving it to her anyway, with the note "And then there were two…" That night I woke up imagining the two Rudolph's racing across her carpet, singing their songs. That would be okay—wouldn't it?

     Or. . . I could look for something else. I did and found a cute little penguin. It arrived yesterday. To make sure it was working I pressed the "Press here" button. Nothing happened. Oh, dear. I pressed it again. Nothing. It had to work; what was I missing?

     Whew! At the back was a plastic strip with a "Pull here before activating" notice. I pulled. I pressed. The penguin flapped its webbed feet up and down, up and down—in a race with Rudolph it would surely lose. The sounds coming out of its mouth were okay, but not quite as cheery as Rudolph's.

     Okay. So Kathy gets the singing, waddling penguin. But my daughter-in-law, that was another case. Tired of online shopping, I went to the local Hallmark store to look for a unique gift and found just the one. Christmas lights, frosted white with gold highlights. Perfect for the mantel in three sizes: small, medium and…

     Large. Large was sold out. The lights were perfect as a set of three. Not as a set of two. What to do? I bought the two and made a special trip to a larger Hallmark store a few nights later—a trip I wouldn't have taken if I wasn't missing the large Christmas light. I got the large light. And I got some cards. And I got some comfy rose-colored slipper socks. And at the register I got chocolate bars to surprise my daughter and our friend. At least I didn't get one for me—so much self-control.

     But of course, if you're out of the house on a starry evening with not a care in the world, you have to stop in to savor a treat while you savor your victory in finding the large light to complete the set.

     Ah! The perils of Christmas shopping—buying duplicate gifts; making unplanned trips to gift shops; buying more than you went for; best of all, stopping in for a Christmas treat loaded with sweet calories.

     Merry Christmas to all and thank you, Jesus, for giving us this season for peace, joy and love for each other.

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