21 Things Only Moms Know About Christmas Shopping

As the most organized person in the house, I am the one in charge of all the Christmas shopping. There was no formal announcement of this anointment: It just kind of fell into my lap, like many of my responsibilities have, and I’ve learned to embrace the craziness of it.


Where I live, most of the other Christmas shoppers I come across are moms, just like me. As we pass one another in stores, pushing carts teeming with items for everyone else and juggling shouty offspring, we give each other the slightest nods of solidarity. Yes, we are slogging through a tricky and expensive to-do list, but we do it to make our family’s holiday all the more magical. We are the towering, better-dressed elves who make Santa look darn good year after year, and we do a fanfrickintastic job of it. This is especially impressive considering all the things we know are true about this monumental task. Things like:

1. It takes a while for you to even realize it is December, but about three seconds after you do, you shout, “GAH, IT’S DECEMBER AND I NEED TO DO ALL THE CHRISTMAS SHOPPING RIGHT NOW.”

2. Your kids’ most-wanted items will cost as much as the enter Gross National Product of a smallish European country.

3. If you don’t micro-manage the kids’ wish lists, they will receive the exact same things from you and both sets of grandparents and every aunt on Christmas morning.

4. You will drag your husband with you once and only once because UUUGH you are so much more efficient at this alone.

5. Shopping malls and department stores turn their thermostats to Death Valley During a Heat Wave beginning the day after Thanksgiving, JUST in time for puffy coat season.

6. When you pop into a store for paper towels and oatmeal they put your purchases in one of those huge opaque plastic bags that hide the contents from snooping children.

7. When you scour a store for all the gifts for your kids “from Santa” they will be fresh out of the opaque plastic bags, and instead send you home with ones that are completely see-through and so small most of the gifts hang halfway out.

8. You will make a list. You will check it way way way way way way waaaaaay more than twice.

9. You will still forget somebody REALLY IMPORTANT TO SHOP FOR until around 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

10. The cars decorated with cutesy reindeer antlers are the ones most likely to cut you off on the highway en route to the mall.

11. The mall parking lot in December is not a parking lot at all. It is a dark and dangerous ocean packed with angry schools of fish through which soulless sharks rush to find a spot to park themselves. Those sharks will eat you if you take the spot they wanted.

12. Crossing even the most remote aisle in a store the week before Christmas takes mad Frogger skills.

13. For every gift your kid picks out for someone else, she will point out three more she wants for herself.

14. Nothing makes you curse out Bing Crosby and the never-ending repeat of “White Christmas” than trying to wrangle two armloads of shopping bags into your car while standing ankle-deep in slush on a snowy day as other drivers pass by, spraying your back in rock salt soup.

15. Every year the hardest gifts to choose are for your mom and mother-in-law. They are also the ones you have to pretend the most were no big deal to choose.

16. Before your first outing to shop for presents, you hunt for the best deals online, print out coupons, and stick to exactly what you planned on getting.

17. During your last outing to shop for presents, you haphazardly run through the stores grabbing all the things and when the cashier asks for your discount card, you reply with, “DON’T HAVE IT DON’T CARE RING IT UP GET ME OUT OF HERE.”

18. Anything you keep the receipt in a safe place for will be cherished and used immediately.

19. Anything you lose the receipt for will be the wrong size, damaged, or the recipient will already have it.

20. If you take your kids to the store and give them money to buy your gift, they will always pick out the gaudiest earrings and necklace they can find at the bottom of the clearance rack.

21. You will wear those things like they are the queen’s jewels on Christmas morning while making everyone breakfast…and shopping online for the one other thing you forgot to get.

More Holiday Fun: