I wasn't sure that I'd be able to give my kids much of a Christmas this year. I was stressed. I was worried. I had gotten them a few things throughout the year, like a $10 pair of jeans from Gap when they had their back-to-school sales or a pair of $7 shoes from the outlet mall on black Friday. Then there were a few books I had found for 50% off at last years book fair and the PJ's I found at the Old Navy Outlet for $7 a few months back. So, I did have a few things. But we're talking very few things.
I had received a few things from others to help fill the gaps. It was a huge burden lifted. And yet, I still felt like I was providing a very inadequate Christmas for my kids. I know that isn't the real meaning of Christmas. I know that my kids are not the selfish type and that they will be grateful for anything I give to them.
But as a single mom whom rarely has extra cash, it seems like we do without so much the entire year. The one time I want it to be special and to give a little more is now; at the holidays.
So, here it was, 2 days before Christmas and I received a child support check I wasn't expecting. We're not talking thousands of dollars here, or even half that amount. But it was a little extra and I wanted to get some nice things for my kids. I got off work early and from 1:30pm - 10:30pm I went Christmas Shopping.
Let me brief you with a little history. I am the type of person that is usually done with Christmas shopping even before Thanksgiving. I am the type of person that has everything wrapped when the tree goes up the day after Thanksgiving. And I don't do these things because I am extremely organized or anal or anything like that. (Well, perhaps a little.) I do these things because I am the type of person that has anxiety at times. I am the type of person who doesn't care for large crowds, driving through the snow late at night, feeling the pressure of looking for that perfect item which is sold out because it is on everybody else's Christmas list too. These things give me stress and trigger anxiety. So, I avoid them like the Plague.
But this year, I had no choice. I just didn't have the money until yesterday; until two days before Christmas. I went to Target. I went to Kohl's. I went to Hobby Lobby. I tried to get as much as I could without having to go to you-know-where. Yes, my dear readers, I tried to avoid going to Wal-Mart.
It's not that I hate Wal-Mart. I just hate Wal-Mart when there are tons of crazy people pushing and shoving and rummaging and making a mess and hogging up the aisles, and not being friendly. (Which is why I also avoid it on Saturdays too.) However, my efforts - as good as they were, were to no avail. I had to go to Wal-Mart.
I had a list, I checked it twice. It still did not seem like enough. I tried to mentally go over the items tucked away in my closet at home and I could barely recall a thing. And the things I did recall seemed a bit lame. It was loud. There were kids riding the display bikes up and down the aisles. There was a woman chewing her husband out for waiting until the last minute to pick something out for his mother. There was a man complaining to his wife that she was going over budget and "did the kids really need that?" I couldn't think. I couldn't breathe. I started to feel the cerebral arteries throb from behind my eye sockets. I started to feel sweaty and clammy all at the same time. My chest felt tight and my heart was palpitating a bit stronger with each tick of the clock. I was suffocating in my own anxiety.
I told myself to knock it off. I told myself it's no big deal. Then I freaked out and asked myself, "But will it be enough? Will they like it? I don't even know what the heck I am looking for!" And yes, dear readers. I told myself these things OUT.LOUD. I had become one of those Wal-Mart Crazies!
I found an empty aisle near the automotive section. I pulled my cart in, leaned against the handle and started to rub my temples. A young kid, barely 18 years old looking, came down the aisle about a minute later with a push broom. I began to move my cart, asking if I was in his way. He replied no, and asked if I needed any help with anything. I confessed, and like a big girl, I didn't even cry. Nope. I was able to hold it together as I said, "I'm having a bit of a panic... I can't remember a thing I have for my boys and I fear it's all quite lame. I want to get something cool for them; something they will think is totally awesome." I and did. After all, I think a kid should feel excited about his main Christmas gift.
The boy with the broom set it off to the side and said, "Well, let's go see what we can find." And within about 10 minutes I had something for each of my boys that was guaranteed to be a winner. And, I didn't have to spend nearly as much as I thought! The Super-WalMart Broom Boy was my Super Hero that night. Or at least in part.
As I made my way to the check out stands, I'm not gonna lie. I had my own stroke of genius too. I looked at my cart and I thought about the stuff I had waiting in the car and at home in my closet and realized I still had hours of wrapping that lie ahead. I made a beeline over to the Christmas Aisle and bought bundles of gift bags and gift boxes. Normally, spending $18 on gift boxes would seem asinine to me. But, this was my sanity we're talking here. I think my sanity is worth a mere $18.
By the time I got home and unloaded my car and unpacked it all into the living room, it was midnight. I took my shoes off and propped my feet up and began an online conversation with a friend of mine from Idaho. Chatting while wrapping seemed to helped the time pass. He finally bailed out around 3:30 in the morning. And guess what? Well, this little anxiety problem of mine? Yeah, I sorta passed it on to a few of my kids.
LittleDuckling couldn't sleep. He continued to come upstairs and ask if I was still wrapping. He asked if I needed help. I knew that he was so excited to see I had come home with multiple shopping bags that his anxiety was getting the best of him. I threw a blanket over his gifts and allowed him to come in and help me "wrap" things up, so to speak. We finished by about 5:30 this morning.
I realize I probably could have waited until morning to start. And I realize that this probably doesn't make much sense unless, you - like me, have issues with anxiety too.
But the good thing is, now I can breathe. And I will be able to sleep tonight, this Christmas Eve and feel joy that I was able to give Christmas to my children.
From my family to yours... Merry Christmas!