Pregnancy and Parenting Features

Ho, Ho, Ho -- Merry Shopping!
by Cheryl Gochnauer

Quick -- tell me what you bought your inlaws for Christmas last year. While you're working on that, tell me what they gave you.

Can't remember? Let's see.... There's that sweater I like...wait, I picked that up myself when I returned the battery-operated whisk broom Aunt Sally sent.'s usually a book or something. Nope, it doesn't jingle a bell. I give up.

This Christmas, I'm determined to give gifts that will be remembered past New Year's. On the limited budget of a stay-at-home mom, however, discovering special presents becomes a bit challenging.

Just like clockwork, December 25 rolls around every single year. I just checked my calendar -- yep, there it is. To avoid repeating this season's mad rush, I hereby resolve to purchase one gift a month, starting with the January white sales. That takes care of next Christmas. But what about now?

It's time for Santa to kick the sleigh into full throttle. The analysis of secret wishes of family and friends begins. Hopefully, clear insight will alight soon. I'd hate to be caught with all those husbands, roaming the ravaged popcorn tin aisle at the local supermarket on Christmas Eve.

Okay...what special hobbies of interests does each person have? I zero in on these. Here's some wise words for the wise men reading this column. Unless your wife is a gourmet cook, a set of steak knives is not an inspired choice. She'll smile, of course, but secretly wish you had been more romantic.

(I hope my husband isn't reading this. On second thought, I hope he is -- just in case he's planning on giving me a dazzling, matching cutting board this year.)

We don't have to pay off last Christmas's charges through May, either. If thought and affection go into its preparation, an inexpensive gift can be treasured.

I enjoy exchanging ornaments with friends and family. On the back of each decoration, we have noted the giver's name and the year. As I bend a branch down to hang a special angel or bulb, memories sparkle. Handmade ornaments are even more precious.

You might consider a written tribute. An old proverb says, "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." What a perfect image in the midst of the twinkly, glittering holiday season. Something as simple as playing off their name can be effective: "R" is for..., "O" is for..., "N" is for..., etc.

Men, take this opportunity to be mushy. We ladies love it. And girls, don't forget that guys like being told they're wonderful, too!

With our busy lifestyles, coupons for free services are always winners. You might design a decorative flyer that promises "a home-cooked meal", "a freshly-mowed lawn", "an evening of baby-sitting," or any other perk your targeted person may appreciate. Be creative!

Celebrate this Christmas by adding a personal touch to your gift-giving.

You can e-mail Cheryl at or visit her website at Her new book, "So You Want to Be a Stay-at-Home Mom," is available at your favorite bookstore or online at
Copyright 1999 Cheryl Gochnauer.

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