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A Million Little Pieces
November 2008 | By Piper Underwood

Every year starting in about October
, I feel this overwhelming sense of dread over the impending holidays, the imminent onslaught of “stuff”, the million little pieces destined to co-mingle. Step one: Purge.

This year my anxiety began in September. I vow to give gifts imbued with meaning. I dread this time of year. Usually dread and uncertainty go hand in hand, but not in this case: I am certain my anxiety stems from the expectation of arriving at Christmas with perfectly wrapped gifts, perfectly coifed hair and dry armpits. I’m sorry, but this is just unrealistic.

I make a head count of potential recipients. It comes to 30. I panic. I make lists. I lose lists. Step two: Edit.  

Thankfully, on my side of the family, adults now draw names for gifts. I scratch 3 people off my list. (That feels good.) On my husband’s side, we have forgone giving gifts to the adults altogether, with the exception of Edna, who pushes some chocolate covered nuts on me, and then eagerly awaits reciprocation. I scarf them down guiltily. 7 more people gone; and I guarantee you with the exception of Edna, all seven are relieved. I’m down to 20. 

In addition to shrinking the number of recipients, I start thinking about my gifts earlier in the season. As I sit typing this, it is only September 28th, and already my skin is showing manifestations of my internal stress. Step three: Plan ahead.

I figure out early what I want to give my girlfriends when I see a neighbor creating ceramic pots in her garden. For each friend, my neighbor creates 4 lovely, personalized ceramic vases. Girlfriends, check!

Only 17 more to go!

In my search for the perfect gift, I am reminded of a friend who gave coupons to her 13 nieces and nephews on their special days. She was a teacher which makes her both crafty and frugal. The coupons are redeemable for everything from “Movie Nights” to “A Day at the Beach.” I think of what kind of coupon I might make for my husband: “This coupon is good for...” Maybe coupons are more suitable for children.

In this case, less really is more.

So, if you are reading this, and you are thinking about giving my children something with a million little pieces, please don’t. Take them to see The Grinch down at the Old Globe instead.



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