It makes my head hurt just to think about it, but there have been years when I started my Christmas shopping on December 20th. Granted, those were days when I was a college student and generally had finals until the 19th, plus I was childless and did not have an enormous sleep debt, and I had plenty of time and energy to tool around the mall until I found acceptable gifts for everyone on my list.
Then last year we had the world's (or at least the neighborhood's) squalling-est child, and the mall was out of the question. We had no desire to stress ourselves to insanity by dragging the baby there, and neither did either of us want to stay home in the evenings to deal with Her Royal Fussiness alone while the other person used valuable hours that could have been used for sleeping trawling the mall alone. Ergo, we determined that we would start early and order everything online, which we did, and all our presents were wrapped and under the tree by December 14th. And we became hard-core converts to online shopping.
If you're walking around a mall and suddenly think of a gift idea, you've got to drag yourself to different stores looking for it, and chances are you won't get the exact style, color, or size you want. On the Internet, however, you can! You can get everything on the enormous Internet, and if you're smart about it you can usually avoid paying shipping, and the lovely UPS or USPS man brings it right to your door, which is awesome. And rather than spending hours on your feet fighting crowds and sweatily wishing you'd left your coat in the car, you can do all your shopping from the comfort of your couch! To me, that last part is unbeatable.
I do actually like the mall at Advent time (what the rest of the world knows as Christmas time, but it's really pre-Christmas and I hate the mall during real Christmas time because all you see are Valentine's decorations and it's depressing) when I don't have an imperative to find a gift for someone. I've been there twice recently because my sister had some buying/returning/buying to do, and the place is bustling and the lights are twinkling and the pseudo-carols are playing and it makes me feel happy. Plus, we've recently realized that Daniel and Camilla are old enough to play in the area with the big plastic figures and the children running around like crazily and they love it, so now mall trips are not just an hour of zipping around trying to get errands done before the agitation to "get me out of the stroller now, please" reaches critical-mass levels; they're an hour of that, interrupted by half an hour of relaxing while our children become socialized.
Speaking of children's play areas reminds me: I read in a magazine article today that the "five-second rule" (??? - I always thought it was the "ten-second rule") when food drops on the floor is Dangerous, and that food and utensils that touch the floor should be immediately discarded or sanitized. I'll save the rant about the hyper-risk-averseness craze for another time, but I just have to say: what the heck? The article wasn't talking about public places, either - it was saying that you shouldn't eat or use things that have touched the floor *in your own home,* because "studies" show that they can pick up salmonella or E. coli from the floor instantly.
My baby is on my kitchen floor all the time. She walks on it, she crawls on it, she sits on it, she even lies down on it. And while I don't actually serve her meals on the floor, if she drops her breakfast Cheerios off her high-chair tray, sometimes I just leave them down there for her to snack on throughout the day. But! I find it hard to believe that large amounts of salmonella and/or E. coli are congregating on the linoleum. It's not like I'm cutting up raw chickens down there, or doing whatever you do to get E. coli on things (changing diapers? handling raw sewage?). If I do happen to drip chicken juice while I'm cooking, I clean it up immediately, because of the above-mentioned baby.
Am I a careless messy person who's threatening the lives of her family by not being careful enough about food cleanliness? Maybe I just haven't known it all this time?
Nah. I'm right about this. I don't buy the hyper-risk-averseness, and I don't buy the sanitization craze, and if my daughter feels like eating dirt she can chow down, for all I care, although I'm totally making Bryan change that diaper. (Mom, what was that thing Grandma used to say, "You eat a pint of dirt before you die"? Or was it a pound?)
I hope all of you have your Christmas shopping done! I feel stressed for your sake if you don't. Although you can feel stressed for my sake, because we don't have our Christmas cards (86 of them) sent out yet because the photos that are supposed to go in them have not yet arrived, and can I mention how much I hate Apple's photo service?
You can all have a preview of the picture as a reward for making it all the way to the bottom of this ramble.