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Creating a new Christmas tradition

So you managed to get through Thanksgiving without exploding? That’s good because your next challenge will be to get through Christmas and remain solvent.

Just kidding! I love this time of year. All the holiday music, Christmas specials and other traditional happenings really put everyone in a better mood. There’s nothing like the Christmas season to bring out the kid in most of us.

Be that as it may, shopping is one of the traditions I never look forward to. I guess I’m one of the few who waits until the last minute to get the job done.

For some reason, I’m not a good gift buyer. I suffer from a strange ailment I call buyeritis – an affliction that makes a potential purchaser idealess when it comes to picking out presents.

It’s strange, for 11 months of the year I have no trouble coming up with ideas on what to buy for those on my list. I think of someone and bang – I knew exactly what he or she would like to find under the Christmas tree.

Come to think about it, my gift buying problem is not something that’s come with age. That plight dates back to childhood.

I can still remember instances in my early youth. Mom would be working in the kitchen and remark, “Boy, I could sure use a new can opener.” I would make a mental note.

Dad would be out choring his chickens. He’d look at his old gloves and say to me, “Hope Santa brings me a new pair of work gloves.” Again, I would file that in my memory bank.

Then, just before Christmas, it would strike – buyeritis. All at once my memory would go blank. It’s like someone had suddenly erased the blackboard in my head.

Each year I would find myself going to Peterson’s Clothing Store not long before Christmas. There I would end up buying Mom stockings and Dad handkerchiefs. That, too, became a family tradition.

Finally, one year, I decided to buy something different. My first stop was at Swanson’s Hardware Store. I looked and looked. I must have examined every item in the store and couldn’t come up with one gift.

Next, I went to Lande’s Drug Store. I figured there were all kinds of gift ideas there. A half-hour later I walked out with empty hands.

Finally, I was back at Peterson’s. If there was anything I found boring it was clothing, but my folks were different. They actually enjoyed receiving clothes.

Mr. Peterson came over and asked if he could help. After showing me most of his inventory he and I were visibly frustrated.

In desperation Mr. Peterson said, “How about some stockings for your mother and handkerchiefs for your father – they can always use them.”

I explained that was what I always bought them and stressed that it was time for a change.

“Oh, that’s simple,” he said and together we solved my gift problem.

That Christmas morning Mom was really surprised when she opened the package of handkerchiefs under the tree, but not nearly as surprised as Dad was with his new stockings.

(Ed Rood is the former publisher of the Tri-County Times. He lives near Cambridge.)

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