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hooking up with a jolly (s)elf

It's all about the perfect gift. It has to be incredibly thoughtful and remarkably insightful. You have to lose sleep thinking of it, skip meals to find it, pull your hair out to hide it and break your back to wrap it. Then you will have the perfect Christmas. I tell myself this each year as I start hoarding gifts in my closet, making a detailed list to be certain I don't miss someone – I always do. And, honestly, I'm not that good at gift giving. I always disappoint.
Bah humbug. This year I'm making a promise to myself: It's about the gift of you, fully present, I tell myself. Don't miss those dreams of sugarplums; don't skip the meal shared around the advent candle; don't stress when you could be enjoying time with your family, your friends, a good book or a brisk walk. These are the gifts that have meaning to me.
Instead of cramming a few more nights of shopping in after a crazy day at work , I intend to decorate my house a bit each evening. I'm not waiting until I have a new roof, a new kitchen or a finished bathroom. I'm not leaving half my decorations in the box. They're all coming out this year. Every Rudolph painted in first grade, every photo of a screaming child with Santa. I'm decking the halls – fa-la-la-la-laaa-la-la-la-la-la.
I'm drinking cider and eggnog. And I'm baking cookies – lots of cookies. There will be carols a-plenty. My all-time favorite: "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus." I love that song. Given the right mood, it can bring tears to my eyes; my boys laugh at me. It portrays exactly what Christmas should be, in my opinion. Happy parents making the effort to perpetuate a fairy tale (let's just ignore the problems with Santa – I take issue with angels, too; Christmas is hard on the skeptics among us) and taking the time to make out under the mistletoe. Isn't that a better lesson for children than parents arguing over how to put together a bicycle or accusing each other of forgetting to buy batteries?
Yes, there will be a few gifts under my tree this year. There may not be the perfect gift or enough or the same for each son. So be it. They won't really care. They'll be distracted by the twinkling tree lights reflected in my eyes. I intend to actually enjoy the season this year. 
So if you celebrate Christmas, join me in observing it my way, my new way, by being joyful and making merry. And have a cookie! 

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Jodi, by your mistake of blogging both drafts here, we get to see your style of editing.  I prefer your JOLLY (S)ELF better.

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Me, too.

I'm a far better editor than writer.