Christmas Shopping

It's mid-December. Is your Christmas shopping done yet? Just a few more stocking stuffers to buy? Or are you a last minute shopper waiting till Christmas Eve to get the deed done (this describes David). I bought candy canes today and some proper English Christmas crackers...the kind that explode and cascade with trinkets and a silly crepe paper crown when you pull the tabs on the ends.

I haven't done Christmas shopping in over a decade. It's odd that while other people are running around crazy, spending big bucks and getting all verklempt, we're oblivious to it all. We send checks to the kids and grandkids and gift cards to the moms. That's it … all done in 10 minutes.

Truth be told though, sometimes I miss the Christmas shopping frenzy. Anyone reading this and stressing out is probably ready to brain me. I miss the hustle, bustle and hurry-scurry associated with the holidays. I like wandering around admiring all the store windows and ducking into the stores to see all the holiday displays and novelties even if I'm not buying. I do not miss the Visa bills afterward.

I especially miss finding that particularly clever and appropriate gift for someone, knowing that they'll be overtly pleased and I'll feel great inside for having chosen it. For sure, the shopping experience seems more frenzied in the US where Christmas seems to be all about the gift giving and receiving. In Australia, there's not half the hoopla we see in the US. Christmas is a summer holiday here...everyone goes to the beach for a barbie.

I miss meticulously wrapping each gift with special paper and ribbon and decorations so that the recipient says “It's too pretty to unwrap”. My sister and I would sit on the floor in the living room with wrapping paper, ribbon and decorating doodads all around us … and glasses of wine. We'd swap the tape and scissors back and forth and inevitably lose both under the piles of paper and scraps. We'd wrap all day making decorated masterpieces to be placed under the tree. Giggling, enjoying each others company and getting into the spirit of the giving season.

David and I don't exchange gifts. Sometimes we find a little something inexpensive for each other to wrap just to have something to unwrap on Christmas morning. Old traditions die hard. Last year David bought me a new tea mug with a distinctive Aboriginal design which I use every day now. Can't remember what I got him although I'm sure it was fabulous … and inexpensive. David's asking Santa for a new outboard engine this year (hard to wrap and not generally in the inexpensive category).

We'll stay in Hobart for the Christmas season. Unfortunately, they boot us out on Boxing Day in time for the arrival of the Sydney-Hobart Race participants. No worries. We'll find a close anchorage, so that we can walk back into town to see the race arrivals, all the New Year's fireworks and celebrations and do some sampling at the Taste of Tassie Fest on the waterfront.

I've wrapped the below deck portion of the mast in a faux-evergreen garland and hung nautical Christmas decorations throughout the salon. We've collected some sort of an ornament from most every place we've visited and hauling them out once a year gives rise to lots of reminiscing and good memories. The candy canes and crackers are placed strategically around the saloon. Christmas spirit is on the rise.

By the way, watching frustrated people shop reminded me that today is Cat Herder's Day. Folks trying to do the impossible … like buying the perfect holiday gift for everyone on their list without going over budget. For an hilarious video clip, try Cowboys Herding Cats. It'll cheer you right up.