December 15, 2012

The Christmas Exchange

I love going to a Christmas party where there is a cookie or ornament exchange. Whether it's just a straight exchange or you do that steal-from-your-neighbor thing where everyone tries really hard not to reveal their inner MMA fighter while going after that artfully wrapped gift they've been eyeing all night, I love them all. Sometimes you end up with something great and sometimes...well, sometimes you end up with something that was undoubtedly grabbed out of the clearance bin by someone who was running late to the party.

One of these years I am going to plan a Christmas party...wait, scratch that. One of these years I am going to actually HOST a party. The planning is the easy part to me. Planning out all the decorations and food and invitations is actually fun. It's the "playing hostess" that I seem to have trouble with. But that's a post for another day. At this grand Christmas party, I will also have an exchange. But we won't swap ornaments or cookies. We won't trade white elephant gifts or recipes or gift cards to random stores that will go out of business before we can redeem them. As much as I enjoy doing all that, I have a better idea.

We will exchange time.

Let me explain. I am great at organizing. I love to do it; it makes me happy. I also enjoy doing laundry, ironing, babysitting and baking. I hate to cook dinner, do yard work, wash dishes and dust. I'm always joking around with my friends--"I'll come and clean your house if you cook dinner for me." But what if we actually did that? What if we made gift cards that were good for our special talent? For example, I could donate 2 hours of office organization that could be redeemed at tax time when unearthing those receipts has suddenly become critical. Or I could donate a couple of homemade pies that could be redeemed when the in-laws are coming in for Thanksgiving. Or I could donate babysitting so that you and hubby could actually go and have an evening that doesn't involve talking, animated animals or food that has to be eaten with ketchup. In return I might end up with someone who would could work a miracle with my flower beds and leave me with something there besides weeds. Or I might end up with a couple of freezer dinners that I can just pop in the oven some night when I am too tired to cook. Or maybe an especially sainted friend would come into my house and wash my dirty pots and pans so that I no longer have to shove them in the oven to avoid looking at them.

We don't always have a lot of money, but we all have something we enjoy doing. And, believe it or not, not everyone enjoys doing the same things that we do. I just shake my head that not everyone finds sitting in the living room doing laundry while watching "Pride and Prejudice" to be a fun, relaxing activity. And who wouldn't get giddy over a label maker? How can a good filing system not make you smile? On the flip side, I also shake my head over the idea that some people actually LIKE to cook dinner. Seriously, who are you people and why do you insist on making me look bad?

Once again, this holiday season is upon me way too fast (I actually have done a bit of my shopping, though. Yay me! I'm ahead of schedule.) and I have no time to organize a party for my girlfriends. Perhaps next year. In the meantime, I will eat the holiday cookies, hang the wagon wheel ornament and Google the location of the Cheese Warehouse so I can spend this gift card.

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