Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Guest Post: Pat Snyder author of The Dog Ate My Planner

Pat Snyder, author of the book The Dog Ate My Planner, stopped by to share with us a piece she wrote.


As we plowed through the Wal-Mart parking lot the other day, fingers numb from the 600 pounds of gifts we’d crammed into two dozen plastic handle bags, my mom, then 83, took a moment to reflect on the good old days.

“When I was a girl, we just got fruit in our stockings,” she said. “Just fruit. And those little free samples Aunt Rana sent away for all year. Little bottles of lotion and make-up. Life was simpler then.”

I laughed at the time, trying to imagine how a sock full of grapefruit, tangerines and apples would be greeted at our house on Christmas morning. But half a tank of gas and a full headache later, I’m ready to make Aunt Rana the patron saint of stocking-stuffers.

In our house alone, estimating conservatively and using premium fruit, a grapefruit or two and a couple dozen apples and tangerines could save us at least 12 hours, three migraine headaches and a couple of hundred dollars a year.

I realize as soon as I say it that I know that not everyone will agree. I know — because they happily announce it — that some folks joyfully squirrel away stocking stuffers all year long and are completely prepared for the winter. Others have simply lowered their families’ expectations. As they tell it, there is unbridled rejoicing at trial size bottles of Dial antibacterial soap and Head & Shoulders shampoo.

But for me the perfect has become, as they say, the enemy of the possible. Stufferless and stymied, I am still searching for the perfect seven or eight items per person. Each not too practical but not too useless. Each not too expensive but not too cheap. Each no bigger than a Band-Aid box but reflecting the recipient’s personal interests and taste. Each purchased secretly while its recipient is waiting in the car.

I’m all finished except for the stockings. But in the school of Christmas shopping, I am like the Ph.D. candidate who hasn’t started her dissertation. There’s a long road ahead, and I need a couple of extensions.

This is not for lack of helpful suggestions from bystanders in the stocking race. Their advice this year breaks down into four major categories:
  • “Start early!” This counsel, rarely offered before mid-December, is as useful as telling a woman with six children hanging on her arm in the post office line that she probably should have mailed the packages to Taiwan before December 21.
  • “Think big!” It’s true that each tall can of hairspray, slid down the center of a stocking, saves at least 60 minutes of shopping time. But for those who must personalize each gift, it takes another 30 to write a poem explaining it.
  • “Just buy gift certificates!” Not bad, as long as each one is packed in a container the size of a videotape. Otherwise, the average stocking holds approximately 3,624.
  • “Just buy toiletries!” This last, the hands-down winner with pre-teen girls, can now work for everyone, including the family dog. Exquisitely packaged lotions, creams and sprays with names like Zesty Grapefruit, Tangy Tangerine and Sparkling Green Apple are ready for the picking. Unless, of course, they don’t smell exactly like Zesty Grapefruit, Tangy Tangerine and Sparkling Green Apple.
In which case, the only choice would be to go for the real thing.

About the book:

Doggone it! No matter how carefully you organize and plan, some dog comes along and eats your day. Could be the computer freezes, or mom misplaces her purse over at the assisted living center, or a brand new granddog is experiencing separation anxiety. In "The Dog Ate My Planner," Pat Snyder offers the sandwich generation a whole new approach to getting organized: lots of fun stories about life gone wrong, plus 74 fun tips for setting it right.

About Pat:

Pat Snyder is a recovering lawyer and mother of three from Columbus, OH, whose new book, The Dog Ate My Planner: Tales and Tips from an Overbooked Life, includes the Stocking Stuffer story and other light takes on the too-busy life. Find her online at www.PatSnyderOnline.com.


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