The 15th is my second favorite day of September, No. 1 being the 23rd, of course – the first day of fall.
Starting today, there are 100 shopping days left until Christmas. Now is when I make my gift lists and start budgeting. Stop laughing. I have to plan this far in advance, especially this year when business has practically slowed to a standstill. Also, I have so many expenses and trips coming up, it’s important the holidays not be an afterthought. For example, sometime in the next two weeks I need to buy four plane tickets to Columbus, then four tickets to Dallas about six weeks after that. In between, we have to rent a minivan for the annual Thanksgiving trek to Dayton.
And let’s not forget the mission-critical Black Friday budget.
Since my immediate family rarely, if ever reads this blog, I don’t mind sharing I’ve already made a few purchases and put quite a bit of stuff in layaway at TJ Maxx last weekend. While it’s always difficult to buy clothes for certain people, I enjoy shopping that store’s periphery – luggage, handbags (oh, the handbags), pajamas and interesting tchotchkes for the home.
I’m a giver. I literally give ’til it hurts. That’s just part of my pathology. Only during the holidays can I give in to my urges without being detected. Oh sure, there’s the ever-increasing stack of presents under the tree and overflowing stockings hanging on the mantel, but I can usually get away with it because I sign the “from” section on the tags with stuff like “Santa Claus” or “Tanner” (the dog). Even though Bobby and I usually agree to a spending limit, I usually blow it all to hell.
While I have a lot of the “classic” personality traits of someone who’s suffered childhood sexual abuse, chief among them are those I have (mostly) under control: disordered eating, anxiety, perfectionism, hyper-vigilance – stuff like that. There really are so many ways this type of abuse can manifest, I’m thankful I’m not even more screwed up. I’m even more thankful I was smart enough to actively seek proper help. That’s really what has allowed me to finally tackle the Obesity Monster. It’s tough going, but a battle I’ll no doubt win.
Still, there’s one trait I don’t mind holding onto: People pleaser. I am a natural nurturer. I like to give. I like to do things for others. I like to help. Unfortunately when job-seeking, this has made potential employers suspicious of my “motives,” and that’s been a real trip. However, acknowledging this has helped me better define what I want to be doing the rest of my life.
Shopping is one. (Just kidding.)
Seriously, though, some of the more contentious moments in my sessions with Tanza have been over my unwillingness to put myself first. I can and I have. Many times. And I’m not the type of person who can be easily taken advantage of. On the flip side, I can be vindictive when pushed, sometimes overly so. My challenge has been finding the middle ground, and I’ve ended up saying “no” to a lot of folks for a lot of reasons, and they just don’t like it. For example, I will never, ever join another committee for the rest of my life. I hate being on committees and refuse to pretend otherwise. While I don’t feel good about disappointing others, I feel great about not disappointing myself.
But oh, the holidays. ’Tis the “season of giving” you know. If I were a drug addict, Christmas would be my crack. Listen: I have improved over the years. Time was, I had my family sending out a dozen or more packages of homemade cookies, caramel corn, gingerbread, fudge and crafts to relatives we hadn’t heard from in years. Shipping cost a fortune, and we rarely got so much as a “thank you.” We stopped doing stuff like that about five or six years ago.
So yeah, it’s 100 shopping days until Christmas, and yeah, I’ve already started my shopping. I spent three hours in a single TJ Maxx Saturday, ensuring I’d gotten the best pieces for the prices. It was intense; I was almost giddy – and that, I believe, is the point: This is something I’m doing for myself as much as for others. I’d say that’s very healing.
He who cannot give anything away cannot feel anything either. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.