I justify my periodic toy-buying sprees as an insurance policy against holiday sticker shock, spreading the capital outlay of Christmas over several months instead of taking one big hit in December.
But somehow, it always backfires.
A week or so before Christmas, I start to get nervous. Do we have enough? Enough to fill the stockings and spread out on the hearth from Santa, and still have a decent showing of wrapped presents under the tree from mom and dad?
With gifts secreted away here and there, I can’t visualize all of it. What if one child has more than the other? What if some of it isn’t as good as I thought at the time? There’s only one solution: we need more stuff.
And so I’m once again on the official present buying trail. Instead of hitting the malls, the internet or big box stores, though, I’m trawling the local shops, prowling not just for the kids but for grandpa, sister, the mother-in-law — whatever I find that works for anyone on the list. It’s the sort of leisure shopping that our own moms’ generation thrived on, when buying presents wasn’t merely another chore but a recreational outing.
Inevitably, come Christmas Eve, as I hunt the nooks and crannies of the house raiding the hidden stockpiles of presents, my fears of “not enough” will turn into “way too much.” Spread out on the living room floor, all in one place and one time, it will seem a bit ridiculous.
So my husband and I will pick through it, weeding out a few things to save for the children’s birthdays, or to divert to a cousin we don’t have anything for yet, or that, honestly, would really be more age-appropriate a year from now anyway — and thus next Christmas’ stash will already be born, 365 days away.
Besides last-minute shopping, there are a few final Christmassy activities this weekend.
You can catch the Polar Express movie at The Strand movie theater in downtown Waynesville, with evening shows and Saturday matinees. Wear your PJs! 38main.com.
And the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in Bryson City is still running its special Polar Express theme train. Or, catch the Nutcracker at the Smoky Mountain Center for Performing Arts in Franklin on Friday night. greatmountainmusic.com.
Lastly, at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the annual holiday homecoming will explore traditions of Appalachian Christmas with crafts and activities (and hot cider!) from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Dec. 21 – the first day of winter.