Adventures of a Christmas H.O.

This isn't me. It's some other H.O.

I am generally an excellent H.O. (Holiday Organizer) but this year I got sidelined with the flu right after Thanksgiving and was sick for 10 days.  My lists and plans had to wait until I could breathe and cross a room without hacking up a lung.  Thankfully I’m fully recovered (well, mostly- still have a cough), so yesterday I tackled my lengthy Christmas list, hoping to get it all done in one day.

I left the house armed with coupons, discount cards, store ads, debit and credit cards, and a good attitude (most important!) and donning a Santa hat.  I had an organized list and knew exactly what I was getting for almost everyone.  What a H.O.!

First stop, the ATM for some cash.  Next stop, Starbucks for a venti peppermint mocha to get into the right mood.  Then onto Target for electronics.

Target has a GREAT deal on digital cameras right now, something both my kids have been coveting. I wanted to see them in person and make a decision between two of them.  I hoped to beat the crowds with my mid-week, mid-morning shopping trip.  I hadn’t figured on a 6 person-deep line and a frazzled young man behind the counter who continuously got distracted because he kept getting interrupted, answering questions and helping others without completing one transaction.  After this happened 3 or 4 times I was ready to just leave when the man ahead of me barked, “HEY!  There’s a line here!  I don’t care if you just have a ‘quick question’.. get your ass to the back of the line!”

Whoa.  The man had READ MY MIND!  I was impressed and took a sip of my mocha with a holiday smile on my face.

When it was finally my turn, I asked my question (“Why is this camera $30 more than that one?  They look identical.”)  His confused look and his nonsensical answer (“uhhhh, one is red and one is silver. I’m going to help this other guy while you decide.”) left me annoyed but still patient and chanting “It’s ok..I’m a H.O.  I can do this.” in my holiday brain.

After inspecting them more closely I realized the more expensive camera had 10 megapixels vs. 8 for the cheaper one.  I made up my mind about what to get, got the attention of the clerk again, asked for two of them, then waited several minutes while he rooted around looking for them only to find out that they were sold out.  That might have been nice to know right off the bat!  Could have saved everybody a lot of time!  Grrrrr.  I suggested that he put a sold out sign in the display to save the next person the same aggravation, and he give me a look I see quite often as the mother of two preteen girls.  Kind of condescending.. a look that says, “Whatever, lady..”

But the clerk was sweet enough to call another Target for me where they had 7 cameras left, so I took my time leaving the store, sipping my mocha and picking up other odds and ends (mini candy canes for the class party, stocking stuffers, batteries, laundry soap, wrapping paper, birthday cards for my daughter) then checked out.  It wasn’t until I was in my car  and making my way across town that I realized I hadn’t crossed one thing off my list, even though I’d spent 90 minutes in that store.  Dude!!  That was more than 25% of my ‘shopping alone’ time!

Feeling more panicky now and determined to stay focused, I pulled into the lot of Target #2, grabbed a cart, briefly considered stopping at the bathroom but after looking at my watch decided to keep going, put on blinders, and headed to the back of the store.  This electronics department was busier but better staffed, with three people working who actually seemed to know what they were doing.  I waited my turn, got the cameras, two cases, memory cards, and even allowed myself to get talked into extended warranties, all with a smile on my face because the clerk seemed to really know what she was talking about.  I liked her.  She was nice.  She liked my hat .  And she thought warranties were a good idea.  I never buy warranties, ever, but maybe I should.

And then I ran into my neighbor.  “Lisa, oh my gosh!  It’s been ages!  You look great!  How are you?” and this is where I made my fatal mistake, when  I said, “Hey!  I’m fine, HOW ARE YOU?” because then she proceeded to tell me.. and tell me.. and tell me..  Meanwhile, the mocha is hitting my bladder, hard.  A couple of times I said, “I should get going” and “I’m sure you have a lot to do” and “Oh, wow, look at the time” but finally I had to say, “I need to go, I really have to pee” and she laughed and said, “Ok” and then KEPT TALKING.  It’s difficult to interrupt a person who is spilling their guts about their impending divorce, so I crossed my legs and prayed, “Dear Lord, please don’t let me wet my pants.”  Finally I had to say, “I need to find a bathroom, now” and walked away as she was still talking.  Folks, I barely made it..  One more minute and I would have been standing in a puddle.

A quick stop for food, a (not too) quick stop at Borders, then suddenly it was time to pick up Kid #1 at school #1, then Kid #2 at school #2.  Then, after a flurry of phone calls back and forth with my sister for sizes and likes/dislikes of her son, we were off to the mall.  Shopping is much slower with kids in tow.  They are under the mistaken idea that we must look at everything they want for Christmas when we’re supposed to be shopping for other people.  And a trip to the mall wouldn’t be complete for them without a visit to the pet store.  So it all took forever, but we had fun, and I finally finished.

The most difficult gift selection of the day was for my best friend.  She always comes up with the perfect thing.  She never spends too much or too little.  It’s always something thoughtful and meaningful.  So the pressure is on..  I found a lovely Lennox holiday bowl that was regularly priced at $50.  It was on sale 40% off, then with my discount coupon it ended up with a final price of $18.  I was happy until I thought, what if she returns it?  She’ll know how little I spent!  She’ll think I don’t care about her as much as she does me!  Then I was thinking maybe it was too impersonal, maybe I should have gotten her a sweater or a bracelet or a fuzzy robe or.. I don’t know.. something BETTER.

My husband thinks I’m cracked.

ANYway!  Ho, ho, HO!  My shopping is done!  Except for my husband, who wants a weight bench and weights, because, “Honey, THIS is the year I’m getting in shape!”  Whatever, honey..

Are you the family H.O.?  How are you doing with your shopping?

35 Responses

  1. I was going to be a good little H.O. this year, but I didn’t get started right after Thanksgiving because I didn’t want to deal with THOSE crowds, then it was my birthday and we were going away for the weekend, and even though we walked around a cute little town, I didn’t find anything there, and now I’ve had my appendectomy and so any shopping I do will be very very last minute. UGH!

  2. I hope your kids don’t read your blog! You are so far ahead of me – I’ve bought exactly one present, but have given Carl instructions to buy a second one while he’s out getting his hair cut. Christmas has snuck up on this H.O this year.

  3. I am the H.O. My hubby gets the outside decorations up and that is the end of his participation. Except for the one big gift he gets for all three kids AFTER I tell him I am all finished with them and that we have spent enough!

    I do recommend the warranty for kids with digital cameras! I got one with my daughter’s camera which covers absolutely everything that happens to the camera. Which is good–because it has broken twice and been replaced because it couldn’t be repaired. So, now after two years, she still has a brand new camera!

  4. I AM the HO in the family! I have my shopping list, in order by store, in order by which one I stop at first, with a note of coupons etc. But, as you know, the best-laid plans often are shot to hell by a bad clerk! Love your story. It is the perfect example of how our lies go!

  5. You are hilarious! It’s good to have a sense of humor because sometimes all you want to do is just kill everyone (well…at least I do). And for that purpose , I am definitely not the H.O. of my family, my husband is. I am done with my shopping and all of it was done online.

    • I did a little online but waited too long to do most of it that way. I bet you are in the minority with your H.O. husband.. usually women are the H.O.s, I think..

  6. What an amusing post! I chuckled at the all too familiar situations you described. It is so hard to shop for certain people. I’m behind in my Christmas shopping, but what else is new?!

  7. This all sounds so familiar, it’s scary. My shopping is never done though. Never. At some point I will declare it done, but still, it really never is. I did some pretty good credit card damage this week though, so we are getting there.

    • Oh, I say I’m done, but I guarantee I’ll be back in the stores before the end of the week. I always forget something, or second guess something I’ve purchased.

  8. I just finished today…in the rain. Hamburger hasn’t even started. He tried to con me into getting a sweater for his mom while I was out, but his family is his responsibility, so I refused. Nicely, of course. 😀

    • Hee Hee My mother in law gets a check if my hub refuses to shop for her. That’s just the way I roll..

      Any shopping before 3pm on Christmas Eve is considered early in Bob’s book. He and Hamburger may be related.

  9. Yes, I’m the HO. I hear you on the flu thing. Last year, the flu had me down for about 2 weeks at the beginning of December and I was in a panic. Still I managed to get it all done.

    This is year I started early just in case there was a similar disaster. Now I’m done shopping at least.

    Congrats on your purchases!

  10. Too funny! I am so behind and your post has made me more anxious!
    Glad you are recovering from your sickness. It’s a bad time of year to be sick.

  11. Great post, LOL!

    I don’t think of myself too much as the HO, but by some miracle all of my shopping seems to be almost done, and I seem to be the one wrangling my parents into getting their shopping done! So, uh, maybe I’m more of a HO than I thought? Now it’s the wrapping and the decorating and the Christmas cards and all the rest of that stuff that should really be well on the way to getting done but is hardly started that’s keeping me hopping!

    • Our decorating is done, the photo cards are made but still have to be addressed and sent out, and the wrapping is about 1/3rd done. Hope to do some baking at some point.. I don’t know when!

  12. LOL This story had me laughing! I hate those people who won’t stop talking even when you’ve dropped enough subtle hints to stop on army!

  13. Great story. I can totally picture the entire thing! The mocha sounds really yummy right now.

    Doesn’t your best friend read your blog? The $18 thing?

    Hope all is well.

    Yes, I’m alive.



    • Have you had one of those peppermint mochas?? SO good.

      No, she doesn’t read my blog. She knows about it but doesn’t read it.

      Glad you’re alive!

  14. I was wondering where you had gone for so long. I’m glad you’re feeling better. The part about needing to pee made me laugh out loud. I’m very glad you didn’t wind up standing in a puddle of pee. That would have been awkward. If that had happened, at least you would have had someone to blame. 🙂

  15. I am a terrible H.O. I still don’t have my tree up! I am too busy for Christmas. Needs to be rescheduled or called off for this year. Who do I call about this?

  16. I only buy gifts that I would like to receive as well, so that makes them easy to find, but not always in my price range.

    When it comes to friends that have everything, I usually do a goodie bag of a lot of different things. That way, you have a better chance at hitting on that certain something. I am always surprised at what catches their eye when I do this.

    This year I am just not in the mood so I am inching along but it’s all getting done. Somewhat. I still need to do stocking stuff.

  17. I am the H.O. in my family and this year I got it all done with time to spare. OK, most of my gifts to extended family are gift cards, but that’s neither here nor there. I didn’t brave the crowds on black Friday, but somehow got what I needed to do all done, so I am pleased! Sorry to hear that you were so sick and I am glad to hear you are finally recovering. And what’s with the chatty lady…doesn’t she know that when you gotta go, you gotta go?

  18. I *try* to be finished by Dec 1st, to avoid the craziness of the stores in December. I didn’t do that this year…I finished about a week later!!

    My Grama is like your neighbor…she winds up her conversation about twenty times before she finally stops talking. I’ve had to pull the “I’m about to pee my pants” on her too.

  19. LOL! Shopping with my husband is like that – painfully slow while he inspects every item in the store. I have to remind him to wait until after Christmas to buy things because he might get them as gifts!

  20. I almost woke up my sleeping 2-year-old I was LOL so much!

    Thank you for sharing your pain with us all to lighten the holiday season stress. 🙂

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