Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Having a lot of people you care about is expensive.

I love my large, crazy family.  I love that my son has cousins and aunts and grandparents that he gets to see all the time.  I love that he will grow up with a huge network of people who love and support him.

I love the ease of finding a babysitter on short-notice.

And I love family events.  Especially when I have the opportunity to give presents.

For starters, I hate to shop for myself.  I hate shopping for groceries.  I find these things boring and tedious.  (And, as I've mentioned before, if my clothes from 8th grade still fit and don't have too many holes in them, I see no need to buy new ones.)

But I love gift shopping.  Shopping for other people gives me a huge charge, and I spend months before Christmas comparing gifts, prices, picking out stocking-stuffers, etc.  It's not uncommon for me to have all my shopping done and everything wrapped by at least Thanksgiving, if not Halloween.

This effort has been recognized as I am viewed, by my family, as one of the better gift-givers.  It's not something I'm arrogant about.  It's just something I enjoy that I've become very good at.

However, through the years, as my family has grown and multiplied, I'm not able to be as generous as I once was.  When we were younger, in our high school and college years, I bought presents for my sisters like they were my own kids.  When the oldest cousin, my niece, was born, I spoiled her like she was my own.

But now we have four babies in the family.  And with every new addition comes not only an extra set of presents to buy at Christmas, but another birthday as well.  All those birthdays and holidays start to really add up, until my whole calendar is filled with special occasions that require a present.  I'll break it down for you by month:

January.  A month of reprieve after Christmas.

February.  Valentine's Day, followed a week-and-a-half later by my Dad's birthday.  Valentine's Day we get off pretty easy on, since my husband and I agree it's stupid.  However, I've felt bad the last couple of years for how much I've had to cut back on spending for my Dad's birthday, especially since he always gives great presents.

March.  My Mom's birthday.  We used to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in earnest, but then we had a baby and got old.  Also, heritage-wise, I'm French and my husband's German/Polish, so were kind of posers for being so into St. Patty's Day in the first place.

April.  My younger niece, baby L's birthday.  This year I got her a cool little Sesame Street music book that plays small, kid-friendly versions of sing-along cds.  My son helped me pick it out at Barnes & Noble.

May.  Mother's Day.  My stepmom's birthday.  My older niece's birthday.  I always have a tough time finding something for my stepmom because Mother's Day and her birthday are like, a week apart.  This year for Mother's Day, I made both my moms heart-shaped cookie cakes from scratch, and decorated them very fancy with different-colored icings.  I never cook, so it was a real labor of love.  My niece doesn't know it yet, but at her birthday party Saturday, this aunt is giving her a really cool Leapfrog Jr. storybook reader and books.  (I know, it's educational, but I still think she'll like it.)

June.  Father's Day.  My birthday.  My son and I will do something sweet and simple for my husband, and I guess we'll take my Dad out to eat or something.  I have only a few specific things I'd like for my birthday, and, other than those few things, I'd like for everyone to just save that money to spend on my son.  Because his birthday's in...

July.  My son's birthday.  He's turning the big 2 this year, and we've gotta throw a huge party.  (There were about 30 people at his first birthday, and he was way too little to know what was going on then.)  I've gotta finish planning his party soon, or I'll just continue to stress about it.  (Also, I like to plan things way ahead of time.)  Oh, I guess the 4th of July is also this month, but I hate fireworks (sound too much like gunfire), so I don't usually celebrate it too much.

August.  My middle sister's birthday.  She's...not easy to buy for.  The best trick normally is to just get her something that's easy to return.  Also, this August will be mine and my husband's 5th wedding anniversary.  I'll ask my parents to watch the baby so we can commemorate the history and origins of our relationship (possibly by getting drunk on boxed wine and playing CounterStrike).

September.  Our first month off since January!  Gotta enjoy it and save up extra this month, because it's also our last month off for the rest of the year.

October.  My youngest sister's birthday.  She's not as difficult to buy for.  This is a good thing.  Also, my favorite holiday, Halloween!  I love every aspect of Halloween, from dressing my son up all cute and taking him trick-or-treating (last year he was a shark, the year before, a cow) to dressing myself and my husband up and hitting Legends to celebrate "Gay Christmas".  (That's what Porkchop, the lead drag queen, always calls it.)  Last year we also carved a jack-o-lantern (my son loves raw pumpkin as much as I do) and watched scary movies and ate candy and went to trunk-or-treats and I just love it.  I love Halloween.

November.  My nephew's birthday.  My husband's birthday.  Thanksgiving.  My nephew will turn one this year, so it's my first chance to buy him birthday presents.  Yay!  My husband's family was never big into birthdays, so just about anything I do for him is icing-on-the-cake.  (Sadly, his birthday is way too close to Christmas, and I always feel like he gets short-changed because of it.)  There's also Thanksgiving, a.k.a. "eat yourself into a coma and watch football" day.

December.  Christmas!  I love Christmas shopping!  Just thinking about it gets me so excited.  If not for the fact that all the babies are, well, babies (and therefore fickle in their interests), I would be making shopping lists NOW.

So, that's my year!  See why it's hard to get a break from shopping?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Shopping for clothes is a must for all.

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