I love shopping. I really do. When it's at a slow, casual pace and I'm not looking for anything in particular.
But shopping for Christmas presents is a different beast. The crowded malls, long lines, and general hectic pass make me a little "bah humbug."
When I was pregnant with Nolan, his due date was January 10, 2002. The mere thought of shopping for presents when I was, let's just say, rather large made me more tired than the extra 50 pounds I had packed on.
I decided I would avoid the malls altogether. I went online and the bah humbug was gone.
All my purchases were completed and delivered before Thanksgiving. Wrapped and ready to go weeks before Christmas. And it was a good thing too -- Nolan arrived early. In fact, we brought him home from the hospital on Christmas Day.
My shopping strategy hasn't changed. I make 95 percent of my holiday purchases online. We make one trip to Toys 'R Us to get gifts for Nolan, and now Quin. Oddly enough, I feel like the gifts for my boys are ones that I have to see, touch and anquish over in person.
We do make several trips to a beautiful outdoor mall in our town. But not to shop. We go at night after dinner and order warm Mexican hot chocolates from our favorite cafe. Then we walk, slowly. When the sky is clear and the stars are out. When we can smell the fresh air and taste the crisp chill of winter. When we can watch the strands of lights sparkle from the trees. When the hustle and bustle has died down, and we can enjoy the sights of Christmas.
Charlene lives in California's Bay Area with her husband and two children.