Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Shopping, aka, Bah, Humbug!

I think I remember reading somewhere that the custom of giving gifts at Christmas came from the Nativity, when the Three Wise Men from the East brought gifts to the infant Jesus. I think there is a problem with this theory, though, because it's painfully obvious that no one could ever find three wise men anywhere in the Middle East.

But that's not important now.

Let's talk about the "bringing gifts" part.

Yesterday, Agnes and I joined about 857,000 of our closest friends at various local shopping centers in search of gifts for the people on our Christmas lists. This is not my favorite pastime, especially in years like this one in which I am woefully far behind in doing my Christmas shopping. Not that I mind shopping for gifts, you understand...I just have a problem with the pressure of selecting, finding, and (of course) affording large numbers of gifts all at once. It's enough to bring a happy snarl to the face of old Ebeneezer Scrooge.

Here are a few random comments on the joys of Christmas shopping.

Every year, starting about July, Agnes begins to bug me to give her a list of what I'd like for Christmas. I duly create the list, print it out, and give it to her. She loses it. She asks me for another copy. I ask her what she did with the first one. She tells me to just be quiet and give her the list. I print it out again and give it to her. She puts it into her purse, along with 75 pounds of loose change, 570 assorted mints from various restaurants, a layer of crumpled receipts dating back to 1972, a loose bale of fabric swatches, and Jimmy Hoffa. The list disappears again. She asks me for it again. I print it out and give it to her again. She loses it again, then gives up and buys me whatever she thinks I'd like.

Finding a parking place at the local outlet mall between Thanksgiving and Christmas is like finding wise men in the Middle East. It's easier just to start in April, leave the car at home in the driveway, and walk to all the stores you need to visit. Parking lots bring out the worst in people, anyway, as they engage in honking matches and exchange extended fingers over available parking places.

There needs to be a special place in the lowest circle of Hell for the person who decided that gifts should be exchanged among co-workers. I have an entire section of the closet in my study dedicated to storing the vast number of less-than-$20 gifts Agnes and I have accumulated over the years. They're impossible to re-gift, because you can never remember who gave them to you in the first place.

Anything designed to be inserted in or attached to a PS3, Wii, X-Box, or any other electronic game device will cost the equivalent of the GDP of an average Eastern European nation.

The latest annual "gotta have it" toy will be sold out everywhere and unavailable for delivery until St Swithin's Day. If a store has one left in stock, the police will be called to separate the scrum of wild-eyed parents and grandparents fighting over its possession. It will be priced to meet the budget of the average cocaine baron.

And so here we are, less than two weeks before Christmas. The tree is not up and decorated, the gifts are not bought, wrapped, and (where necessary) shipped, the annual Christmas letter is not yet written, and the cards have not been sent.

I think I need a vacation.

And that's all for now, because I need to print a new copy of my Christmas wish list for Agnes.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



Jean-Luc Picard said...

You have an interesting pre-Christmas routine.

Mike said...

"less than two weeks before Christmas"

Christmas is in two weeks?! OHOH.

Wv: vialble - Able to exist in a vial.

Amanda said...

Christmas shopping is the best kind of shopping to me :) Its the one time in the year that I feel justified in spending the money. I've still got a few people on my list to shop for presents for but I think I need a few days recuperation after yesterday's shopping.

Leslie David said...

Fortunately I don't have to shop for anyone--our family doesn't exchange gifts, there's no significant other in my life and the cat will settle for some balls, toy mousies and cat treats.

michelle said...

oddly enough...i will not step foot in a mall any weekend in December.....(aside from an early Sunday morning jaunt).... too many amateurs mess up the flow :)