As The Shoppers Rush Home With Their Treasures
Christmas Shopping Time!
It is probably no surprise to anyone that I am a very good shopper.
I recognized this talent while I was still very young. And I was reminded of it when an old friend from the neighborhood posted a memory on Facebook of a factory outlet store that I did not even remember until that moment. The Durable, it was called. And suddenly, I not only remembered it – I remembered what I bought there. The Durable was famous (to me) for paper dolls and great beach toys.
I do remember Christmas shopping as a little girl. One year I bought candlesticks for my mother with every penny I had. She still has those candlesticks in her living room. They are uniquely ugly. But that’s what happens when they are bought by your kid. You have to display them forever.
I have no kids. If I get an ugly gift I display it one year tops. No matter how much I love the giver. If I do not love the giver, it gets one month. Or I return it, telling the giver that it is so much exactly my taste, I already have one. (If I have ever said this to you — I meant it THAT time.)
Back to shopping.
I remember one Christmas when I had just finished college. I had a good job that paid very poorly, so I took a second job in a store at the mall. Because of my day job, I never got to my seasonal job early enough to shop, and I worked without even a bathroom break until close. I worked all day Christmas Eve, and then ran around the store using my discount, buying anything as fast as I could. Then I raced back to my one-room apartment and speed-wrapped – which is when you make big bulky corners and use lots and lots of tape. And no bows. And flew over to my parents’ house where my presents were unwrapped within the hour. Everyone liked what they got. As my brother used to say (years ago when he was carefree, i.e., single): “Money is no object when you shop on Christmas Eve.”
But that is NOT the way I like to shop. It was certainly okay to make folks happy because I spent a lot of money on them. But I’d rather spend the time – choosing something special. Something that tells the giftee that I really know them and what they like, and want to please them.
So my best Christmas shopping was done when I started early and went out multiple times. First I would go out and see what I could find for everyone. Then I’d look again. And perhaps once more, just to make sure I found the best possible gift. Then I’d go back and make my purchase – given it wasn’t gone by then.
By starting early, I don’t mean August though, like a few of my well-organized friends do. I found that if I shopped TOO early, and finished all my shopping, then certainly I would find something better before Christmas, and would buy that too. Add to that the fact that in December, I FEEL like Christmas shopping. My friends and family certainly don’t mind getting two (or three) gifts from me. I’m generous. But still.
Then of course there is the additional complication that if I buy in August, I can’t remember where I put it by December.
No, by ‘early’ I mean early in December. Maybe in November if I was feeling especially disciplined.
My very best shopping was done in my late thirties. I had 1) disposable income, and 2) no husband. Being single at Christmas time is not always very joyous. But there are advantages. I didn’t have someone buying me those special and pricey things that my husband buys me now – and he is a fantastic gift-giver by the way. At least as far as ‘money is no object’ goes. His taste is sometimes questionable (as he – even more than me – refuses to acknowledge that I am over 60) but he’s a big spender and believes in the virtue of quantity. But the upside of not having someone buying me all kinds of shit when I was in my thirties was that I felt perfectly justified in buying all kinds of shit for myself.
My method of shopping was “one for them, one for me, one for them, one for me, one for them, two for…” I got EVERYTHING I wanted for Christmas. It was all perfect – and just my size too!
I can’t do that anymore. For one thing, I can’t indulge myself when my husband is doing that for me.
And also, despite the fact that I am an excellent shopper, I am no longer an excellent driver. Oh I can stay in my lane. And sometimes I can back up. But how I hate to make a left-hand turn. Or park.
Thank God for the internet. I just finished ALL my shopping. Right from my lap. And I can even employ my technique of shopping multiple times to ensure I have the perfect gift. Yes, it is a real pleasure to perform what they call in my industry – “abandoning the cart.” I chose multiple gifts for everyone. I just didn’t BUY multiple gifts for everyone. Imaginary shopping is very entertaining. I encourage you to try it.
And guess what! It is also easy to throw a thing or two for yourself into the cart. Because you can forget it’s there when you are finally ready to hit ‘CHECKOUT.’ And it may be just the thing you need to put you over the minimum for free shipping.