Every early December, my (divorced) parents email me. Often my mother's subject line is "Ho ho ho." They want me to send my Christmas list so they can get their shopping done early. I have such mixed feelings about sending them these emailed inventories of my Christmas desires. When I have been terribly specific and gone for the gusto in my list-making in previous years, I've gotten some fabulous presents. A $200 orange fur-trimmed coat, for example, that I never would have bought for myself, that I still wear most winter days three years later. I have to say, that was a great Christmas.
Yet, a feeling of selfishness, guilt and pressure permeates my Christmas list wish writing. The feeling that I have to get my list of desires done first, on the list of things to do, before I start the more angelic and true-spirit-of-Christmas-y task of finding the perfect present for each person on my list. It's hard to come up with the perfect list of appropriately priced things without sounding too terribly demanding. Increasingly, too, it feels absurd to be an adult writing a Santa list. But if I get it right, maybe it will be a great Christmas again, like 2005, the year of the orange coat!
This year my parents finally started to come to their senses and told their three now grown children they would be scaling back (in line with the apparent Zeitgeist of reduced Christmas spending) and buying us just a couple of lower-cost items each, or my father's idea, to skip the orgy of present-buying and instead go on a shopping trip with us a day or two after Christmas. So my list was supposed to match the reduced budget, but I realized, this is the only occasion all year long when I think long and hard about what I need and want, and I couldn't resist emailing an unabridged version to myself, which included higher-ticket items like "Ipod Sound Dock" and "digital camera."
So is this just me? Or do Christmas lists bring up a weird tangle of conflicting emotions for other people?
Do your parents ask you for a list of the things you want for Christmas? Do you write them one? Do they buy you things on it? How many presents? I'm especially curious about the adult Christmas-list-writers out there, and how this very American (?) phenomenon plays out in your life in December.