real life

GUEST POST: The gift of lists…

Here’s a post about lists, Christmas and chocolate Advent calenders from The NDM (Not Drowning Mother)

I’ve blogged it before and I’ll blog it again: the primary purpose of the Advent Calender is to remind parents of how rapidly Christmas is approaching. Every one of those little windows that is opened is like a punch in the stomach from Santa himself. 

The secondary purpose, of course, is to secure chocolate’s place in my children’s daily diet.

Anyway, I don’t really need to be reminded about how quickly Christmas will be upon us. I’m panicking quite enough, thank you very much. In fact, I’m panicking so much that I’ve started writing lists.

Oh, I’m one for writing lists, all right. Lists of presents I need to buy and food I need to make. Lists of people I need to send Christmas cards to, lists of things I need to pack for our Christmas holiday and lists of pubs outside which I might find my husband ‘resting’ on the pavement. Lists and lists and lists. Even lists of lists.

I’m also one for losing lists, ignoring lists, weeping uncontrollably over lists and then tearing lists up in a complete and utter rage because no-stupid-piece-of-paper-is-going-to-tell-me-what-to-do.

One of my favourite lists at this time of year is the Kris Kringle list, which is a little sanctuary of socialism amidst a storm of rabid consumerism.

Instead of having to buy fifteen crap presents from the $2 shop, the KK list allows me to buy one quality present for one person. Which is great in principle, except I always seem to get assigned the Latest Beau of one of my cousins, whom I won’t ever have met. So then I’ll have to ask my cousin to ask her boyfriend what he wants. And while the item he requests might initially sound straight-forward and reasonable, it’ll quickly translate into endless days of trudging around crowded shopping centres with small screaming children in tow. In the end, I’ll have to ask my cousin to buy the item on my behalf – except then that she won’t be able to find it either and her boyfriend will have to go out and buy it instead. And then he’ll give it to me the day before Christmas and I’ll wrap it and put it under the tree, all so that he may experience ‘The Joy Of Receiving’ with a present he bought for himself. With my money.

And that’s how things might have played out, except that this year my family have decided to do something different. It’s called a ‘No-Cents Secret Santa’ where, instead of buying something, you give something you’ve made or found or something of your own which you no longer have use for but which you think your assigned person will like. Not only does this act of non-consumerism help save the planet, it also allows us to “sava da money” – a merciful thing indeed at this time of year when we all seem to be haemorrhaging fifty dollar bills.

But the flip side is that there is no ‘opt-out’ here: I can’t do an eleventh hour gift-card purchase at David Jones. Instead, I’ll have to put some careful consideration and planning into this gift – you know, use my creativity and imagination and stuff. I mean, who’s got time for that? Don’t these people know I’ve got lists to write?

Hang on a moment, what was that No-Cents description again? Something I’ve made (lists!), something I’ve found (look, there’s some lists languishing at the bottom of my handbag!), something I’ve no longer got use for (at least 99.9% of my lists, especially by Christmas Eve when it’s too late to do anything on them anyway).

So this Christmas, I’m definitely going to give the gift of Lists. Who knows? By the time Santa comes to town, I may find myself so fuelled by hysteria (and, quite possibly, alcohol) that I will turn to the power of interpretive dance and, smearing myself in Advent Calendar chocolate, tear up the lists into a thousand tiny pieces and sprinkle them like confetti all over my cousin’s boyfriend.

Ah, Christmas. Such joy. SUCH JOY.

You can visit Not Drowning, Mothering here and follow The NDM on Twitter here.

OK, I’m looking for ways to make Christmas easier. More manageable. Less nervous-breakdownish. What are your tips for saving time, cash and/or your sanity?

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