By DARREN HANDSCHUH
How sweet it is.
Sitting at my computer, I took a glance at the calendar and noticed it is the second week of December.
Why is that so sweet you ask?
Is the light covering of snow gracing the land making me feel all warm and cozy inside as I kick back with a hot chocolate? Nope.
Is it the Christmas cheer that is growing throughout the city as people are a little nicer to each other? Nope again.
It is because I have finished my Christmas shopping. I bet you ladies never saw that one coming. That has got to be a new record for just about any man on the planet.
I have two full weeks to go before the big day and I am done, finished, kaputzki on the shopski, I have purchased all I need for that special day for my wife, parents and siblings.
I am sorry if I have broken some sort of man code that says guys cannot finish their Christmas shopping early, but to my detractors and critics who claim I have broken this unwritten rule I say – bite me. It feels great to be done so early and while you last-minute shoppers are bouncing off other last-minute shoppers and ripping around the mall like a fart in a hurricane, I will be kicking back with a 'special' eggnog wondering how the less-organized people are making out.
Getting the shopping done early has another bonus: those two weeks might be enough time for me to wrap the presents, as I am possibly the worst gift wrapper upper in the world.
Anything I wrap looks like it was done by Stevie Wonder while hanging upside down over an alligator pit.
I have never used the services of the mall wrappers who adorn your gift with fancy paper and bows, because it would be too obvious I did not do the wrapping.
I like to provide the personal touch of wrapping the gift myself. Besides, it is fun watching my wife wrestle with the present as she tries to open it.
You see, I make up for my lack of wrapping skills with copious amounts of tape, something I learned from my dad.
Whenever Pops mails us a package, it has enough duct tape on it to rebuild the space shuttle. It typically takes about 20 minutes and the use of power tools to open, but at least it is secure and Dad is doing his part to boost the economy by purchasing duct tape by the crate.
But when it comes to Christmas shopping, I was not always so efficient. Not by a long shot.
I used to be one of those lunatics who would start hitting the malls around Dec. 23 or so. It was like a sport for me back then. There was strategy involved as you cut through various aisles trying to get to the perfect gift before some other hapless husband happens to put a hand on it. Some physicality comes in to play as men push and shove each other to get what they need so the Missus won't stick a candy cane up their nose come Christmas morning.
The latest I have ever left my Xmas shopping was Dec. 24. Yup, one year I literally waited until the last moment possible.
Not the smartest move I have ever made and one I have not made since.
Even though I finished my shopping early this year, it does not mean I rushed in choosing my gifts, especially for the Missus. I had a pretty good idea of what to get her before I even headed out for the first swipe of the debit card.
The key is to pay attention to subtle hints that may be dropped when she spots a sweater in a store that she likes.
Hints such as, “It sure would be nice if someone got me that sweater for Christmas.”
It's all about paying attention to the little things.