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Friday, July 11, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 74.0° F  Light Rain
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ISTHMUS PARENTS

Mama Madison: Holiday shopping challenge
How can I possibly buy all the gifts I need?


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Some call it the most wonderful time of the year. And I genuinely appreciate their cheerful take on the month of December. But I have found that it is possible to OD on "wonderfulness," especially if you live in my house. You see, we are twice blessed with both Hanukkah and Christmas celebrated in full force over here. And the "Season of Giving" just keeps giving with December dates for my son's 11th birthday, my husband's birthday (suffice it to say he is over 11) and our anniversary (also over 11 for those who are concerned). Needless to say, I should have planned the wedding and maybe even the birth a little better. No matter how you slice it, I have a lot of shopping to do.

Normally, the ability to shop thoughtfully, efficiently, frugally and aggressively is one of my best attributes. Trust me, I could easily go pro in creative consumerism. But I have to say, as seasoned as I am, I am not up for the marathon that this month requires. Trust me, I've done the math. If I was to get each immediate family member something each night of Hanukkah, ensure a quality showing at Christmas, make sure the December birthdays are not overlooked (I am obsessively cognizant of this), and honor the anniversary the tally is well over 60 individual presents. I guess I could take a cue from "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and consider gifts that come in multiples like Four Calling Birds or Eight Maids-a Milking, but this would also involve the purchase of birdseed and cows. Not to mention housing for the Lords-a-Leaping. No can do. So I'm going to need to figure out another way to pull off the holiday Olympics.

Early in our marriage I briefly entertained the idea of some weird holiday mash-up for gift giving, like Seinfeld's secular Festivus or The OC's Chrismukkah.  We could write in-poor-taste ditties like "Little Dreidel Boy" and "Rock of Reindeer," build matzo/gingerbread houses and reimagine Santa as an observant Jew (always wears a hat, long beard-it could work). But my husband and I have too much reverence for the sanctity of both holidays -- and I a full understanding that theologically Hanukkah doesn't hold a candle to Christmas (pun fully intended) -- to go this hybrid route.

And this is where you come in, folks. The greatest gift you could give to me this holiday season would be ideas. I think I am ready to walk away from all the stuff and try something different. How do you handle the careful balance of meaningful gifts and overindulgence in your house? Is December just too much to handle for anyone else out there?

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