Growing up, my Dad always shopped for Christmas presents on December 24th. Yep, he was a proud "last minute shopper" and he relished in the idea that his best gift "ideas" came to him under pressure. Never mind the fact that as a little kid I was dragged along with him from store to store trying to remember "What's Mommy's size again?" and answering cringe-worthy questions like "Do you think she wants a toaster in white or red?"
By the time I was a teenager, I would start asking (read:nagging) him to shop for Mom right after Thanksgiving, but inevitably we would end up at the Mall on Christmas Eve, sifting through a thousand size 7/8 slippers, trying to find the last pair of 9/10s, no matter the color.
I think he felt a little bad about the dinged boxes (when you're pulling the very
last box off the shelf on Christmas Eve, it's usually damaged by the 2.8 million hands that have touched it since Black Friday) and uninspired (read:crappy) gifts of toasters, blenders, and I think there was even a can opener one year, because we always ended up at the jewelry store. And boy did they see him coming and roll out the welcome mat. The sales staff at a jewelry store probably funds their summer vacations just on the Christmas Eve commissions from the sad sacks who burst through their doors at 6 pm, desperate for something to save "Christmas gift-giving face" with.
Now, it's not like my Mom wasn't aware how much of a gift-buying procastinator my Dad was (and still is). Like all of us in long-term relationships, you learn a few of the quirks about your partner early on, and you either strive to make adjustments in them (i.e. PUT DOWN THE DAMNED TOILET SEAT OR ELSE!) or you make some adjustments to suit your own purposes. Mom decided to do the latter when it came to Dad's Christmas Eve mad dash.
When we walked into that jeweler on Christmas Eve, without fail, the only thing the salesman had to do was present the wrapped box and ask for his credit card. Mom had already "paid me a little visit a few weeks ago Mr. T-----, and she picked out something that suits her beautifully!" Dad didn't even try and put up an argument over the item, price, or presumption of the two of them being in cahoots over her Christmas gift. He may be lousy with the timing, but Dad isn't dumb!
My favorite part of the whole thing was how Mom could make the best "oh, you shouldn't have!" and "it's amazing how a 10 cent slice of bread needs a $100 appliance to brown it" faces on Christmas morning. But the funny thing is that over the years, I came to realize that it's something we all just know and love about my Dad. His down-to-the-wire gifts have become a bit of legend in our family; the leaner years where it was can openers and plastic fruit, along with the years he presented us all with Disney World tickets (bought at 9:20 pm 12/24/87. It was stamped on the itinerary LOL) and Mom a brand new car...yep, with a big showroom ribbon on it just like the commercials.
Dad was always so happy giving his gifts, watching us open them, and proudly proclaiming "See, I told you those stores just try and trick you into believing you have to shop early! I got everything yesterday!"
Even this year, he's looking forward to his Christmas Eve shopping, gathering lists and finding out which jeweler Mom has stopped in recently. His eyes lit up when I mentioned she's interested in a panini grill. The game is afoot 12/24......
Happy Holidays to you all. Hope your gift list is complete...or almost there!