‘Tis the season

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 22, 2003

Sometimes I get a little stressed during Christmas.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas and almost everything that goes with it. I enjoy all of the lights and decorations, although I must admit I am usually too lazy to put any up myself. I really like Christmas trees, especially the ones with the lights that appear to chase each other around the tree.

I enjoy the music, especially Christmas songs sung by Elvis (“Blue Christmas” in particular) and “Christmas Time in Hollis Queens” by Run-DMC, but I am a little tired of “Grandma Got Run-over By a Reindeer”.

I get excited when I receive Christmas cards from my friends, but then I feel kind-of bad because once again I failed to send out any of my own. Next year Patrick, next year.

Even though it is sad and I hate to admit it, the cynical side of me is enjoying the venom spewing fourth this season over the Happy Holidays versus Merry Christmas debate. I’ll debate just about anything, but this is one debate where being a spectator is much more fun.

Some years, when I am filled with inspiration and a large helping of Christmas spirit, I even find my way to a church for a Christmas Eve service, although dodging the lightning bolts as I enter the church gets trickier and trickier.

Spending time with my family and friends is my favorite part of Christmas. It’s not always easy to see all of my family as we become more spread out and my extended family ‘extends’ a little more each year.

Some years I don’t make it home in time to see all of my friends or our schedules never quite mesh. Luckily a group of people I grew up with throw a Christmas party every year. This party provides the perfect opportunity to find out who got married since last year and find out who was married last year, but is mysteriously single this year. When high school classmates show up pregnant or with baby pictures, I try my best to act interested, but I’m sure the look of fear in my eyes is obvious.

However, shopping for gifts is the one part of Christmas I struggle with each and every year.

I have been known to procrastinate a time or two in my life and I recognize this may be the true source of my anxiety. Every December, extremely vivid memories of driving around on Christmas Eve in absolute desperation, searching for the perfect gift, haunt me.

I never know what to get anyone, so I end up waiting to the last possible minute. I rack my brain, trying to think of the right gift.

Books are usually a safe gift, but I have to be careful when purchasing a book as a gift. I never know when the person I am shopping for might think I am trying to send them some kind-of message through the book. A cook-book filled with healthy recipes may seem like a great idea, but trust me, it isn’t.

Last year I was very excited about the Bob Dylan autobiography I bought for my cousin Chip, only to find out he already had two copies.

Music should be an easy gift, but in today’s world of compact discs, MP3 players, I-Tunes and I-Pods and illegal file sharing, I’m quickly overwhelmed and give up.

Clothes, I don’t think so. Jewelry, remember I’m a reporter. Gift certificates, do I really want someone to know exactly how much, or should I say, how little I spent on them. That doesn’t leave much.

Wish me luck.