A Love-Hate Relationship with Christmas Shopping


Only one thing in the world could’ve dragged me away from the soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the window.

~from “A Christmas Story”

I got one, and I never did shoot my eye out

It’s that time of year again…when I scrape together money I really should be spending on dried beans and heating oil to buy lots of things for other people to tell them how much they mean to me. Yes, Virginia, the Christmas rush is in full force. As a rule I avoid Black Friday, though Cyber Monday has become a godsend for my introverted self. Saving money and not leaving home…whatever’s not to like? Online shopping is the perfect solution for anyone not wanting to risk life and limb in pursuit of a parking space, Christmas or otherwise.
 
And yet, there hasn’t been a single season yet where I haven’t ventured out in search of the perfect gift in person. (I chalk it up in part to my language of love being gift giving.) No pre-packaged perfume sets or generic popcorn tins for me. I’m going to the ends of the earth in search of the rare, the esoteric, and the amusingly unique. Whether it’s some buried Cro-Magnon hunter’s genetic memory or the simple desire to find the perfect gifts for my aunt and my co-workers and my third cousin, I don’t know for sure. I know the malls are going to be packed. I know I’m going to have a sensory overload attack. And yet I go, marching to my certain doom anyway.
 

Oh look, another Wal-Mart gift card!

What drives me bonkers is how much I want to buy gifts to tell others how much I care about them. And I really can’t on my salary. It’s hard enough scrounging up enough for Mother’s Day and birthdays and anniversaries, much less the orgy of gift-giving that Christmas has become. I know most of them have said not to get them anything at all, that it’s not a big deal. But I still want to. And it’s not going to be some five-dollar piece of junk. It’s going to be special.
 
I’ve heard others’ suggestions on how to simplify Christmas. There’s always the option of making something, although my cooking and sewing skills are dreadful at best, or giving one of those little “gift certificates” for a free car wash or house vacuuming. But those don’t seem quite right either. My gifts have to be symbolic. The little gewgaws I buy for the most obscure relative have to mean something. No gift cards or bland Wal-Mart crap for me. Ebay, as it turns out, has been a good way to find the unique items. Even pawn shops (shhh, it’s my little secret) are a great place to look for the hidden gems.
 
In the end, I think what’s bothering me is this: Christmas is my one and only shot to tell most of the people I care about how much they really mean to me. There’s only so much a preprinted Christmas card or a telephone call or email can say. Because expressing my emotions is so difficult for me, gifts are the next best thing. And I want them all to know…without getting too mushy about it. That’s why the whole Christmas shopping experience is just so tormented for me.
 
 

Gimme a fifth of Jack for Christmas, kid

 I’m thinking what I’ll do this year might combine the best of both worlds: instead of one of those cheesy Christmas letters that talks about what I’ve been doing all year, I’ll write each recipient a nice personal note along with the card. In this age of e-everything, I know most people enjoy receiving handwritten correspondence. Then, since I seem to have mastered the recipe, I’ll get down with some homemade mint fudge. Provided of course the recipients aren’t allergic to chocolate or diabetic. Anybody else, well, I’ll just have to go to my old standbys. Including the mall, with its sensory overload and hordes of shopping zombies.
 
To everybody receiving a gift from me this year: I love you all, and I do this for you. If you buy me anything, just made sure it either has a sharp edge and/or alcoholic content. It is what it is…’tis the season.
 

Ho ho ho, fool!

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~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on November 30, 2011.

2 Responses to “A Love-Hate Relationship with Christmas Shopping”

  1. Yes! Yes!! Yes!!! I, too, love buying “the perfect gift” and wish desperately that my budget would allow it. Not long ago, I saw a movie in which a man cut out pictures of what he would give each of his kids and his dad if money would allow (It wouldn’t) and then wrapped the pictures up in a box. I kind of like that idea … and am tempted to follow suit!

  2. Hey! Couldn’t agree more. This year I’m all about finding gifts on a budget (and a very low student budget at that). I’m also getting into actually narrowing down my list to the people I really want to *appreciate* this year.

    I’ve started posting some Nifty GIft Ideas on my blog, and I think you should check it out! Might find something for that special hard-to-find person! http://sarahsbest.wordpress.com

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