So I've been AWOL since Thanksgiving. It's not a coincidence. I'm kind of a Thanksgiving grinch. Frankly, when you study early American history, the "First Thanksgiving" story is kind of depressing. Also compounding my grinch-ness is my completely irrational but nonetheless militant hatred of pumpkin products other than jack-o-lanterns. The third and fatal factor is that everything, everything, is due around Thanksgiving. So the holiday turns into a turkey-eating fest that culminates in frantic grading and writing before fighting off some uncles for the last bit of stuffing.
But after Thanksgiving, we enter a distinct stage I've identified as pre-Christmas. Christmas preparation begins on Black Friday, when radio stations play Christmas music and otherwise sane people beat each other up over a My Walkin' Pup toy. Garland and mistletoe abound, kids freak out about Santa, and I busy myself making endless sugar cookies shaped like fat snowmen when I probably should be writing about 40 pages. Somehow the Christmas season supersedes other obligations while the Thanksgiving weekend just makes me panic, drink wine and watch football.
But Christmas is difficult, too. First of all, there's the travel. Then there's the gifts that get lost in the mail. Also, there's always one person you have no idea what to get. There's usually also one person you're not dying to see during the holiday gatherings. But no amount of bad Christmas sweaters, black ice, and crazy great-aunts will hold me back! Here's some things you might find helpful.
Coming up short on gift ideas? Check out Gifts.com. You can shop by demographic, topic, price, even general "personality".
Need super-cheap gifts and/or lots of goody bags? Try my favorite chocolate-covered pretzel recipe. You can make a whole bag in less than an hour and you don't even need a double-boiler. I put them in holiday-themed bags and they're always a huge hit.
Never leave home without a good supply of holiday jokes. I like this site, which features 'Twas the Night Before Finals.
Don't wear these: Epically Bad Christmas Sweaters
What was the worst Christmas present you ever got? Does it rival some of these?