HANK: Happy Thanksgiving! Oh, wait, that’s over. Hope you had fun…but now—don’t stop dancing!
You know what comes next. You’ve known it from the moment you put away the tree last year. You’ve known it from the moment you say that first display of cards in the drugstore—just after Labor Day, it seems. Holiday creep (we don’t mean holiday creeps, that’s a different blog) is relentless, we know. And we can never figure out why there are now bathing suits at the department stores when there weren’t any in August. But that’s another blog, too.
So, let us be—well, okay, clearly we're not the first—to welcome in the rest of the holiday season. How ya doin’ so far?
Today, the three H's stand for Ho Ho Ho. (Hush. Like Santa, we mean.)
>> When do you start thinking about Christmas and Chanukah shopping?
HARLEY: Why are we even discussing this when . . . oh. I see. It's nearly December. When did that happen?
HANK: Like I said. Holidays come and go so quickly around here. I start thinking about it..well, I never stop thinking about it. Which doesn’t help in any way. It’s like thinking about your novel. It’s all wonderful—but it doesn’t mean any pages get written.
HEATHER: I think about it way ahead sometimes. But I think that if I buy that perfect gift for someone, I will lose it or give it to them far before Christmas. I have now seen so much hype on "black Friday" that I'm terrified.
HANK: TLC'ers..for extra credit..did you shop?
>> When do you actually DO your Christmas and Chanukah shopping?
HARLEY: Whenever I can squeeze it in. With luck, when I'm not actually in the presence of the person for whom I'm shopping.
HEATHER: Christmas shopping . . . hm. I'm looking at the some of the treasures I got the kids last year that are actually still on my back porch. I'm thinking gift certificates! (Or green stuff. That always works.) If anyone knows my kids, by the way, I would love the new IPad!
HANK: Sadly, more and more, I don’t. I mean—I do two kinds of shopping. On an emergency basis—as in: oh my GOSH I need something for (insert name here) RIGHT NOW!! And then I panic. Or, on the planning extremely ahead basis, which is I buy the PERFECT thing for whoever in like, July. Then I’m very proud of myself. Then I lose the thing. Or forget I ever had it..
>> What secret thing have you learned about holiday shopping?
HARLEY: Nothing. That's what I expect from TLC. The secrets to life.
HEATHER: Be someone other than me. Be one of those clever and wonderful people who can shop way ahead--and remember where they put the gifts!
HANK: Seriously? No one remembers what you gave them. If you ask me what pick-a-person gave me for Christmas/Chanukah last year, I have NO idea. And the corollary ,that I have no idea what I gave anyone. I’m sure there are people who got the same thing from me for several years. Shrugging. You can’t have too many silver pens, just saying.
>> Re-gifting. Discuss.
HARLEY :I buy a lot of gift cards and then end up keeping them. Does it count if one is the beneficiary of one's own regifting process?
HANK: Brilliant. I do, too. But then I forget I have them. Or I lose them. Regifting scares me. I don’t object, morally, I guess, I just fear getting caught.
HEATHER: I believe in re-gifting. If I've given you a gift that you can't use but it saves you when you suddenly and desperately need a gift--I believe that was a gift! So there!
>> Is your family really good about doing their own shopping? Or do you have to step in?
HARLEY: As my family is mostly under the age of 12, and 33% of them are canines, I do it.
HANK: My family only shops for themselves. What can I say. And we’re very good at it.
HEATHER: I'm not so sure my husband has ever shopped . . . no, that's a lie. He'd gotten the kids movies, cds, and T-shirts. Ah, wait, darn! The two year old and the four year old are not excited about money. I will have to shop. And Nikki and Ozzie and the cats don't actually understand it, either. (Rather than something to chew if it's lying around.) I will have to shop.
>> Teachers. Agents. Trash guys. Hairdressers. Letter carriers. Presents or not? What?
HEATHER: I'm horrible with anything that has to go through the mail. If I can hand it to you, you will get it. Okay, so yes, editors and agent. Yes, but thank God! They like E-gift certificates!
HARLEY: This is my nightmare. Teacher gifts I leave to the Room Moms, who are saints. I will donate any amount of money in order not to have to think about it. Agent, yes. Trash guys, no. Hairdressers, letter carriers, no, and I feel VERY GUILTY about this. I never learned the rules. Are there rules? I do send a lot of cards. Does that count?
HANK: Every year magazines and newspapers have lists of rules—what you give everyone for presents. And every year—what they says just doesn’t seem right. Agent, yes. Editor, yes. Trash guys-yes. Letter carrier, yes. Hairdresser, you bet. Producer, yes. Video editor, yes. I guess I’m just a—yes.
>> Is there someone in your family who always gets it right?
HARLEY: My children. Whatever they give me is perfect. How can it not be? And--this is so wacky--their dad's girlfriend gives fantastic presents. I even save the wrapping.
HANK: Jonathan. Is perfect. And my mother, who once gave me pale pink leather gloves. I mean—who’d-a thought? I’ve never worn them, because they’re too pink. The next year she gave me ultra-thin red suede gloves with a tiny red-suede rose on each wrist. I mean—gorgeous. But as yet, unworn. Too delicate. I might use them as a table decorations…or tree ornaments!
HEATHER: My sister's sister-in-law. T. She just gets Christmas right. Cards sent, presents wrapped . . . beautifully. My sister was like that. I'm organizationally challenged. Maybe it was in the genes, and it just skipped me. (Like small feet, you know?)
>> Is there someone in your family who always gets it wrong?
HARLEY: Nope. There are no bad gifts. (But some I do . . . recycle.)
HEATHER: I agree--but when kids are all over the place, it's Christmas for me just to have them with me.
HANK: Oh, you two are so adorable. But Harley, yes, there are. I mean, theoretically, no, gifts are gifts and it’s wonderful. But I’ve gotten some WEIRD stuff. A table runner, once. But not from family.
>>Opening presents on Christmas eve or Christmas day? For Chanukah celebrators--how many big presents?
HEATHER: One on Christmas Eve--the rest on Christmas day! (Unless one of the animals has chewed up the wrapping and they're half open already.)
HARLEY: Christmas day. Always.
HANK: When I was a kid, we celebrated Chanukah just as you’re supposed to, and Christmas just as you’re supposed to. Well, okay, not exactly, of course. My mother would always try to weasel the presents in the final days—like giving us packs of Juicy Fruit, when we wanted stuffed animals. Gift opening on Christmas morning only was pretty sacrosanct, no matter how often and relentlessly the five of us kids lobbied for Christmas Eve openings.
Now, as an adult, I would NEVER open anything early. Waiting is part of the fun.
>> Real tree, artificial tree? NO tree?
HARLEY: Real tree.
HEATHER: Whichever I can find that year that fits right on the little table in the back. Above the level where Ozzie-Cudjo thinks it's like an outside tree, but tied in the corner where the cats don't continually try to climb it.
HANK: Real tree. Have you seen the rosemary ones? I’m tempted. Jonathan and I don’t have a tree, though. Sigh. “We’re Jewish,” he says, like that’s supposed to end that discussion.
>> Too early to be discussing this? Yes? No? Discuss.
HARLEY: Sigh. No. It just feels like it's too early, like the postcard that comes reminding me it's time to get my teeth cleaned.
HEATHER: Ditto to Harley's sigh. December? You are kidding me!
HANK: With ya on the sigh. Time goes by too quickly, no matter what season. So I guess the only thing to do is embrace it. And wear the red suede gloves.
HANK: So how about you, TLC'ers? Shopping secrets? Gift-giving revelations? Hints to loved ones? Give us your scoop and wisdom on the approaching holidays...anything you're going to do differently this year?
And hey--Happy Holidays! We have a signed copy of Margaret Maron's new book for one lucky commenter! (Ho Ho HO!!)