On holiday shopping (which sometimes turns out to be shopping for ourselves)

In an effort to dodge the horror that is holiday shopping at the mall, J and I have opted to buy most of our gifts online this year. Besides the added price of shipping, and the constant fear that the other will peek at what's come in the mail, prompting passionate reminders to one another ("Did I get a package today? I did? Don't open it. NO! DONT OPEN IT! Yeah, maybe it's for you. Maybe.") the process is far superior to the other option. The throngs of anxious shoppers. The piercing headache that occurs after three or four hours and you still haven't found the perfect item for Dad. The crowded parking lots. (I once, several Christmases ago, parked slightly askew, just barely edging over into the next spot, in a parking lot outside a shopping center - I had no choice, the cars on either side of me were all lopsided, as well - and when I returned after a typically stressful venture in the mall, found a note on my windsheild, written in shaky, hysterical-looking letters, asking me, "Who do you think you are taking up two spots in a crowded lot like this??? Next time you will find key marks up and down your car." Yeah, that's exactly what it said. Merry Christmas.) Despite the new game plan, we did head to the mall last night, because there are some things that are just better to buy in stores, in person. Things like...oh, things for yourself for instance, let's say. Like a new pair of shoes, that we found for J in Nordstrom. Or, like, some nice smelling soap, or new makeup. As much as I feel guilty for these little indulgences during the holiday season, I also sometimes think it's the only way to get through it all. I adore the Christmas season, but the one thing I am always appalled by, year after year, is how the gift giving experience tends to make shopping, normally delightful, a little bit, you know, hellish. Makes you feel like maybe you should have put on more deodorant that morning.

And that's why buying yourself presents, and maybe taking yourself out to dinner, that's ok, right? Because if there is one thing I'm sure of, it's that you can't take care of other people until you can't take care of yourself. I learned all about that as early as the sixth grade (in this class called "Decision Making," that was very clearly a sex-ed class, but not called that because, I don't know, maybe our parochial school thought using "sex" in the name of a class would cause actual sex to occur or something). It's a simple matter of self esteem.