Prompt: How did your family handle Christmas Shopping? Did anyone finish early or did anyone start on Christmas Eve?
When I was a child, my mother did the bulk of the Christmas shopping to ensure us kids and my father had presents and filled stockings. Early on, my father would be the only one buying for my mother, but as I got older I started to buy things both for my parents and my sibling. We usually made lists for each other to provide guidance, but it wasn’t mandatory to actually follow the list if you came across something ‘better’. Some years, if we hadn’t had a list some of us might not have had any presents. We still do lists but they seem much harder to create than they used to – fewer toys, I guess, though more expensive ones! The logistics of ensuring there isn’t duplication off the list also makes things challenging – there’s a lot of email and secretive phone calls leading up to Christmas.
No one finished particularly early most years – although every year I continue to hope I’ll be done well ahead of schedule. And every year I’m usually in the mall buying something or another a day or two before Christmas. This year will be no exception. Thanks to the Internet, however, I haven’t been in the mall quite as much as usual prior to the last couple of days!
Excerpt from Where the Saints Have Trod, Judith St. John, 1974 (Oxford University Press). The book is based on the author’s childhood memories (ca 1914-1924). She was my great-aunt.
“In secret places, we began to make presents. Elizabeth embarked on the ambitious task of knitting a dish-cloth for Mother, out of string. I decided to knit her a table-napkin ring. I found a little ball of rose wool for the purpose. I made a book-mark for Aunt Rhoda, and a calendar for my father to hang in the barn. He had never had one there. I went shopping for Elizabeth’s present – a fat scribbler that she could use for a scrap-book. In the same store, I bought a tiny silver container full of coloured leads for my brother’s eversharp pencil.”