I have a true love/hate relationship with the Christmas season. First, I fully admit that I am an agnostic, although I grew up in a Christian church, and family, and have fond memories of Christian traditions regarding the Christmas season - especially the singing of Carols. I spent many years trying to find my faith, and it is just non-existent. I find more reasons to disbelieve than to believe.
But this post isn't about my religion. It is about the Christmas season. The Christmas season celebrated by those of us who don't put the Christ in Christmas, but still see at as the season of giving. (PLEASE - don't try to convert me or bash me because I'm a non-believer.)
So, although I am an agnostic, I still celebrate the season -as much as I can tolerate anyway. I still (usually) put up a tree and a few decorations. I still give gifts to people I love. I still try to enjoy this season of giving and make effort to do nice things for strangers.
I'm far away from most of the people I love best. I find the commercialism - and the expectations of society in general, and myself in particular - very trying.
To attempt to lesson my stress at this time of year, and allow myself to enjoy the season as much as I am able, I try to shop early. I've had all my gifts purchased for some time now. But there is one tiny little hitch that is driving me nuts and making each day torture for me.
My husband and I have no granchildren, but there are still three children that fall on our gift list. The children in question are not exactly hurting for toys, and other fun items. Their parents are indulgent and they have large families. So to make things easier, and because I love reading, I decided we would give the children books and a small bit of cash each year. So far, this has worked out well. In fact, I give every person on my gift list books (usually along with something else) - except my husband.
For these children on my list, I take great pains to select reading material designed to intrigue children of their ages and spend much time scouring lists and looking at specific books before selecting what I hope is just the right book for each child.
This year, I did the same, however the particular book I selected for one of the children also came in a very special "library cover" edition and while I could have gotten it in paperback very easily I decided I wanted that library cover edition. Because this edition was rare, I could only find it online. I placed my order with Amazon who reportedly had it in stock.
Weeks went by and the item wasn't shipped. I researched why and found that it was actually not in stock and they could not give me an estimate of when it would be. They graciously offered to cancel my order. So I scoured the internet searching the globe for this specific edition of this specific book.
I've got my heart set on it and nothing else will do at this point.
I finally found it at a book seller's in Britain. I placed my order and was told I should receive it by the end of November.
It is now the 12th of December and I still don't have it. I have contacted the seller and have been informed that Australia has heightened it's security measures and many items are being held up in Customs. They reported that customers who placed orders in October are only now receiving them. *sigh*
I don't know if this is true, and it really doesn't matter. All I know is that all my careful attempts to avoid stress so far this season have failed - and each day I anxiously await postal delivery hoping against hope that this is the day that damned book will come. I do have a back-up plan, but it's not one I like much.
I know there are far worse problems in the world - please don't tell me about them. I'm well aware of them.
I also know this is a very minor issue in the grand scheme of things and five years from now it won't matter whether this child got the library cover edition of this book - or any book for that matter.
But I also know that it is stressing me out big time.
So all I can say is this:
Christmas? Bah humbug!
Do you find the holiday stressful? Does it drive you nuts if you can't get your hands on that one perfect gift? How do you cope?