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The Perfect Christmas Present

October 3, 2011

by Kaitlin O’Riley

I know it’s a bit too soon, but I have Christmas on my mind already.  My newest romance, It Happened One Christmas, is being released this week and so I’ve been thinking about the most wonderful time of the year a little earlier than usual.

And because my Christmas romance is set in Victorian era England, I can’t help but long for simpler times when gifts were not the main focus of the holiday.  Back in Victorian times families spent the holidays in each other’s company and gifts were small tokens.  Children were content creating homemade decorations for the tree and finding a delicious orange and a shiny coin or two in their stocking. Today we are bombarded by commercials to start our gift shopping even before Halloween.  The message being that only by purchasing the biggest, brightest, and most expensive presents will we be able to make our loved ones happy on Christmas morning.

Choosing the right gifts for people is a tricky business and not one I particularly enjoy.  I stress about it too much.  There is always the worry that they won’t like what I’ve given them… What if they hate it?  Or already have it?  What if they think I’m clueless for choosing this gift for them?  Does the gift not show that I know them well enough?  Oh, the pressure to give the perfect present!

And it’s because we love our families and friends so much that we want to please them with special gifts.  Who doesn’t want to hear an exclamation of delight when your sister cries, “Oh, I love it!” upon unwrapping the framed photo of the two of you as children?  Or the shout of joy when your son tears open the new Lego set he so desperately had to have?

I love to give perfect gifts but it’s very hard to do every time.  I’m a planner by nature and hate doing things at the last minute, so I’ve already begun making my gift list. (But that is mostly because I have a very strong aversion to shopping in crowded stores and standing in long lines to pay for something.)  Oh, I haven’t bought anything just yet, but I’ve started getting ideas for what to get for whom.  There actually was one year when I had my all of my holiday gifts purchased and completely wrapped before Thanksgiving.  Yes.  I know.  It was amazing.  And a feat I have yet to accomplish again.  (I still hold out hope, almost twenty years later, that one day I will have the wherewithal to be that organized once more.)

But I realized something today as I stood in a shop filled to the rafters with pretty things and wondered what my family would want. This commercialized version of Christmas that is crammed down our throats each year doesn’t have to be this way.  I don’t have to live up to the idealized perfect Christmas and the giving the perfect gift…  I don’t have to do this to myself every year.   Although I love the spirit of Christmas: the mood, the decorations, the traditions, the scents and sounds, I don’t love the expectation of gifts.

But I could try a simpler version of Christmas this year.  Instead of the emphasis being on giving presents, I could just enjoy being with the people I love and the season itself and not worry so much about the gifts.

That would be the perfect Christmas present to myself after all, wouldn’t it?

Or I could just give everyone a copy of It Happened One Christmas

What would be the perfect Christmas for you? Comment to enter to win an autographed copy of IT HAPPENED ONE CHRISTMAS. 🙂