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In a house with young kids all the merry-making that goes in to December 25th  gets largely credited to Santa Claus.  Which leaves me strangely bitter on Christmas morning. On top of which I also feel foolish for being envious of a round old white guy in an adult onesie that I promoted to begin with.

Kind of like how I feel about members of congress at this time of the year.

But at least with St. Nick my feelings are limited to the one self-aggrandizing act: that I get no credit for those epic piles of presents for my children, that are purposely bigger than the size of my pile. Which my children then chide me about.  That I must “try harder” to be as good as them next Christmas.

One year I didn’t even think to wrap anything up for myself or my husband.  We were going on vacation and the trip was our present to each other but the lack of goods under the tree caused my children to think mom and dad were actually on the naughty list.

My kids consoled me all day that if I just try harder next year, maybe it will be better.  Which was way more shaming and embarrassing than I could even explain to myself.

It has also never ended.  My kids do not remember the trips I have taken them on in the past, the parties I have thrown for their birthdays or even the nightly hugs, kisses or books I have poured over them nightly since their birth.  But they never ever forget that one Christmas I was a bad girl.  They not only remind me of it daily but also my parents, my work colleagues, the neighbors and really anyone they run into from mid-November until the end of January.

I wrap myself at least three presents since that fateful year.  But since I buy them for myself, only to then wrap, cut and tape them in shiny paper I also personally tend to  – only to then label them from someone else – it does not make me all that merry.

But my bitterness extends beyond beloved holiday figures and my own children this December. I have a little more Grinch-ish feelings to spread around to all the retail shopping chains too.  Even though I do almost all of my shopping on-line now – when I’m supposed to be sleeping (possibly another ingredient in my sour mood by late December) – I heard from every major shopping outlet this past holiday.  That is when I was traveling with my family over Thanksgiving and the other national holidays of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday.

I was in the fold for all these sales because it seems those retailers I visit late at night have been holding on to my information. That is despite never checking that box that asks if I want sale notices from them.   Of course many retailers bury this question which is often already marked yes, which I would have to uncheck – if I could find the question at all. Which must be how so many cyber notices came through my phone and I suspect will continue until New Years day.

I hate to admit that subject lines like 50% OFF and FREE SHIPPING all worked on me.  But after opening an embarrassing number of invites to spend money, I found half off was really only reserved for things leftover in odd sizes or horrendous colors.  The things that I liked were mostly 10% off at best.  Yet there I was rushing to get them in the cart before my three to six dollar savings were gone!  Which often went right back into my total expense when I didn’t qualify for free shipping.  Totaling no savings at all.

So I am having a moratorium on sale items of all kinds – and plugging in my Kindle to go back to reading fiction as opposed to coupons at night.   And from what I’ve already bought, I’m noting all the items that seem a little “less than I expected.”  Those are the gifts that will be labeled from Mr. Claus this holiday at our house.  So that I might be properly adored for finding, purchasing and dressing up those big ticket items all the people on the good list will enjoy so much.  Myself included.



  1. Nicole Baugh on Tuesday 23, 2014

    Every year, I’m such a Grinch/Grouch/Debbie Downer. I’m so cheap when it comes to gifts. Next year, I have to stop being lazy.

  2. Bill Rice on Tuesday 23, 2014

    Merry Christmas to you and your family

  3. Laura on Tuesday 23, 2014

    I do this too! It makes me so bitter that I have started giving the kids one present only from Santa. I even hate that I ever taught them who santa was

  4. D Zire on Tuesday 23, 2014

    I did not tell my daughter anything about Santa and try to pretend that he is part of another religion not ours at Christmas. She is only three, we will see how long this lasts.

  5. Monica Mayberry on Tuesday 23, 2014

    Hi Diane, this is very funny and very true

  6. hu Chuan on Tuesday 23, 2014

    Hello Diane, I have read your books and your column and a big fan. Is there a place I can write you a personal question? Thank you

  7. a is for Gwenny's kid on Tuesday 23, 2014

    I am not giving my kids anything from Santa anymore and it is a big relief!

  8. frankie P on Tuesday 23, 2014

    Merry Christmas to you and your family Diane!