If you’ve ever felt bad for folks who have a birthday close to Christmas, save a dose of pity for their mom. My youngest was born on December 11th, and each year, I struggle to get her gifts. I find that no matter how much I buy for her, once her birthday is over all that remains is a pitiful pile of left-over presents for under the tree. I must then head back out and try to find something with wow factor.

It’s not only exhausting, but expensive. Especially this year. My girl is turning 10, so Barbies and board games aren’t cutting it anymore. Wii games, iPods and other techno-gifts come with a high price tag, so either the quantity or the quality of the presents is going to have to change from previous years. Giving her 4 gifts on her birthday was easy when the total of them cost me about $60 bucks. But with her current list, I’d be spending over $300 bucks on her birthday alone, and that’s just not gonna happen.

So my little Sagittarius is going to learn a lesson in home economics on her birthday this year. Oh, and then there’s my 16 year old to think about. I  have no clue what to get her.  Right now I am envisioning walking up and down every aisle in and out of every store searching aimlessly for something she might like that I can actually afford.

See, that’s the kicker. If money were no object, my shopping would be done. I’d have ordered all they wanted online and once UPS or FedEx delivered it, I’d wrap it sipping wine and listening to Nat King Cole. If I had an abundance of time, I could strategically find the items I need to shop for, find the best deals, and methodically purchase them. However, I have neither time nor money, which translates into me taking a day off from work way too close to Christmas and then running in and out of every store like a lunatic trying to find gifts that they might A) like and B) use.

I usually love to Christmas shop, but this year even with a list from each kid, I’m befuddled and discouraged. You know what? I’m looking forward to December 26th.