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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Elves 'R Us

One of the fun things about living apart from family during the holiday season is the gleeful anticipation of that telltale brown truck pulling into our driveway. Come home from an outing, and the first thing one does is check the front porch. Any packages today? With the advent of online stores, and the many offers for free shipping during the holiday season, shopping across state lines, or across mountain ranges and large bodies of water, becomes relatively simple.

Our first two winters in Alaska I did almost all of my shopping online. It was quick, easy, convenient. I also overspent. Not everyone had free shipping, so I had to pay that. Then, I would forget what I'd already bought or had lost track of how much I'd spent, and I'd buy just a few more things. Then, there was the wrapping conundrum. If you ship gifts directly from the merchandiser to the recipient, unless you pay an aggregious amount for them to wrap it, it arrives unwrapped. So much for surprises.

This year, breaking with two years of pseudo-tradition, I did ALL of my shopping in stores, on foot, with a cart. I brought everything home, wrapped it all, without ribbons or bows, and perhaps even as I speak, Bruce is in line at the U.S. Post Office waiting to get them shipped off.

Meanwhile, our beloved family have shopped for us, and have made us aware of the various packages coming our way. It seems all of us are feeling a bit frugal this year, because no one wants to spring for merchandiser gift-wrapping. Instead, I have been asked to be Santa's elf, and as packages come in, send them through our own household's, complimentary, gift-wrapping processor.

Now, before I go any further, because I know my beloved family are likely reading this, I want to make clear that I happily and cheerfully do this task. I see absolutely no reason why I shouldn't. I have asked others to do the same for me in times past. But this year, it has just gotten a bit more complicated. My organizational abilities are getting a bit stretched, as you are about to see.

This is what I must keep straight: okay, all packages from my parents-in-law cannot be opened - they will do so themselves when they arrive around December 18th. However, all these packages are addressed to Bruce, so I must be mindful of the return addresses, and make sure he doesn't open them thinking they are things he ordered for me. So far, one box from Amazon already arrived and is in the "Do Not Open" pile. Meanwhile, my sister-in-law, Karen, has sent one which can be opened if it has her home return address, but cannot if the return address is Amazon - that one can only be opened my my mother-in-law (Karen wisely put it to Barbara's attention). Next, the ones from my mom are coming from REI, and could be opened and wrapped by don't need to be - she can do it when she gets here on December 28th (we will be doing a separate post-holiday gift-exchange with her). Also, my brother, Doug, and his wife, Kathleen, have brought to my attention that they have had a couple boxes sent, all of which need to be opened and most of which need to be wrapped. One is from Amazon, addressed to me, and there is one family gift from my nephew John which is already wrapped. That should be fairly easy to handle. Another box is coming from Lands End, also addressed to me. The final one is coming from REI(?) and I don't know who it's addressed to. In theory, all the REI boxes should be safe. Lastly, Bruce has ordered all my Christmas gifts online, and based on the receipts that arrived in our Outlook Inbox, they are coming from Target. I assume they are addressed to him. Haven't heard from Liz yet. She's Bruce's other sister.

Is all that pretty straight-forward? It is, isn't it?

Bruce just got home and brought in our mail. In it is a box addressed to me from REI..... Need to think a moment.... Think it's a safe one.... Just opened it.... Took a peek.... Whew! Safe!

Bruce also just handed over the receipts from mailing the five big boxes at the Post Office. Ninety bucks. Ouch.

Next year I'm shipping direct and recruiting elves.


At 9:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not know how you can keep it straight. Thankfully the worst that can happen is you see a present early that you were not meant to see. Theoretically the world would not come to and end. Just reading that makes me want to drink ;-) k


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