Small Talk: Continuing the Christmas challenge

I was moving through the end-of-year requirements pretty smoothly this year.  I set back my clock and have relished every minute of extra sleep. I have packed away my two boxes of Halloween décor and hauled out my one boxful of Thanksgiving stuff.

And although it is still 43 days away, (but who’s counting!?) I have even begun tackling Christmas.

My last-minute husband was stunned and little frightened, I think, to see me hip deep in paper and ribbons in early November.

As it happens, I am continuing a tradition I started with my son when he went off to college. It began with my sending him a boxful of very small gifts, to open each day of December, Advent-calendar style, until he came home for break.

I expanded it to include his roommate buddies and then began doing it for him and his then-fiancée.  My challenge those years was to find cool, inexpensive things that could fit in a tiny, favor bag, squished into a free, USPS Priority Mail box.

Shouting a spirited pre-Christmas alleluia, I celebrate that my box-stuffing days are over. They now live in Santa Monica. But the 25 treats have become a part of Christmas that none of us want to end. Hence, since July, I have been searching out small-to-medium surprises to be delivered, sans post office, before Dec. 1. And that has me already breaking out the tissue paper and curly ribbon.

I felt like I had been finding dozens of goodies, but, lo and behold, after wrapping what I had collected thus far, I find myself 15 days short for both of them.

It’s something of a challenge, but not an entirely bad thing. I get to keep Christmas shopping, which is, without question, my very favorite thing to do.

Being able to spend money and feel virtuous about it? Who doesn’t love that?

Don’t panic. I swear I will neither hang a light nor an ornament until Dec. 1 is open us.  I have my standards.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer looking to get ahead of the holiday curve. Contact her at


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