Cheap Mama

I am cheap.

Very cheap.

So cheap, in fact, that one of the first phrases my son, Clyde, learned to say was “Is it on sale?” (Usually uttered as I whipped the grocery cart down the cookie aisle at lightening speed.) Still, even Clyde’s long-standing familiarity with my tightwad nature could not have prepared him for this year’s Christmas presents.

First off, let me say this: I like Christmas. I really do. I like the lights, the cookies, the cards, the caroling (not that anyone does that anymore, but if they did, I would like it). I hate it when people start in on the whole “it starts earlier every year” spiel. I hate it when they complain about the “commercialization” of Christmas. (I’m young enough that Christmas has been commercialized my whole life–the image of Santa riding an electric razor through the snow has the exact same emotional punch for me as a live Nativity scene.) But this year, for whatever reason, when Christmas came around I just said, “eh.”

Which meant that I put off doing my shopping until the last minute.

Now, two things that definitely don’t go together are last minute Christmas shopping and being cheap. (Unless you can convince your kids that your family has converted to Russian Orthodox–where they don’t celebrate Christmas until sometime in mid-January–and buy all your presents at the after-Christmas sales.)

This isn’t a problem as far as my daughter, Clementine, is concerned: a Hot Topic gift card costs the same whether you buy it the day or the month before Christmas (although there is some concern that they might possibly run out of the “hipper” ones, and you will end up being stuck with one of the less popular members of the Cullen vampire clan–Uncle Jesse Cullen, the moonshine swilling vampire, perhaps).

Clyde, on the other hand, likes stuff. Which meant that I had two choices in the two days before Christmas I had left myself to shop: I could go online and pay outrageous shipping costs (and contribute to global warming in the process), or I could slide over to Kaybee’s and look through the few toys they had remaining at the end of their “Going-out-of-Business” sale. (I had to go to the Mall anyway for the Hot Topic card).

Can you guess which option I chose? (Because, that’s right, I’m all about the global warming). And so, it came to pass, that on Christmas morning we were gathered ‘round the Danish modern glass coffee table to open our presents. (Did I mention that I was so far out of touch with Christmas this year that I bought tickets for a Suns game on Christmas day, thus necessitating our family’s removal from our own home–where we had a Christmas tree–to a hip loft in downtown Phoenix, complete with exposed brick and duct work?) This seemed like an excellent idea when I had first made the arrangements–back in October. After all: what says “Christmas” more than shouting tu craints! (you suck) at Tony Parker, the Spurs’ hated French point guard?

Clementine, as predicted, was happy with her last minute Twilight gear–the Twilight hat, the Twilight soundtrack, the Twilight gift card–as far as she was concerned, it was a Twifecta. Clyde, on the other hand, was slightly nonplused as he opened up his collection of bottom, bottom, bottom of the barrel action figures from Kaybee’s.

I think that if I live to be as old as Ebenezer Scrooge, I will never forget the look on his face as he opened up the last one, read the packaging, and said, “Who’s Apollo Creed?”

Next year, I swear, I’ll do better.

Next year we really will convert to Russian Orthodox.

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