Tag Archive for: shopping

I officially broke the seal on Christmas last Friday and purchased the first holiday gift of the season. I didn’t really mean to, but this particular item struck me as something Bubba and the girls would get a huge kick out of. So I got it and brought it home. It is sitting in my underwear drawer, buried beneath a pile of boot socks and in order to diminish the paranoia that someone will find it, I suppose later today I’ll go dig out the wrapping paper and ribbons and Christmas labels and camouflage it for real.

And once the holiday wrap is out, it’s all over. I will begin accumulating gifts and wrapping them as they show up on my doorstep (I do 99% of my gift-buying online – I hate shopping except for groceries and love that I can click a few buttons and have things show up on the porch for days afterward).
I have favorite sites for books, weird stocking stuffers, and lovely gifts for friends. Before kids, I loved to browse through craft stores and small, independent clothing or book stores, selecting just the right gift for everyone on my list. Inevitably, I would over-purchase, forgetting that I had Gift A at home in the closet for Susan and buy Gift B for her because it struck me as the perfect thing. As our family grew, both with our children and our siblings’ children, Bubba and I realized that the expense was getting out of control. Not to mention the fact that our kids (and everyone else’s) had one of everything and didn’t need a dang thing.
A few years ago, we agreed (through much angst and negotiation) to draw names for the adults in the family on both sides and just buy for the children. In doing so, I also made my plea for minimal gifts for the kids. A science kit or craft kit, perhaps. Maybe one article of clothing and a nice book instead of an entire outfit and a series of books. Outings are nice – tickets to a play or an IOU for a pedicure with Grandma don’t clutter up the closet and are fun to look forward to. I was cast as the Grinch in some instances.
It’s not that I don’t want my kids to have a lovely holiday. It’s that I don’t think they need stuff to make it lovely. And I know that Bubba’s parents and mine waited a long time for grandchildren and they see it as their Universe-given right to spoil them, but I think we’re sending the wrong message. Here we are three days before Thanksgiving and instead of seeing messages about gratitude and communities coming together, the media is trumpeting Black Friday Sales and economic forecasts for the holiday season. I love giving gifts as much as the next person, but I seem to be the one in the family who keeps trying to come up with ways to minimize the consumerism every year.
Eve had to do a project for school this week that highlighted a cultural difference between a South American country and the U.S. She chose to interview a family friend from Argentina about the way they celebrate holidays. In the beginning, it was fun to think about the fact that Christmas happens in the middle of summer for them and she had to remind herself that Argentineans have no reason to celebrate Thanksgiving. As the interview went on, however, it became clear that the differences run deeper than that. Leandro spoke about the importance of family gatherings on Christmas, New Year’s and Easter and the way that they are centered around togetherness and food. Yes, the Easter Bunny has made it’s way to South America, but thus far, he plays a fairly minimal part in their celebration of the holiday itself. It reminded me of my childhood Christmases as we traveled to Southern California to be with my mother’s family. My mom’s parents and her four siblings lived in Santa Barbara and there were four cousins for the four of us kids to play with. I don’t honestly remember how they managed gift-giving. I do recall my mom sewing matching dresses for the girl cousins one year, but other than that, I have no clue whether she and her siblings exchanged gifts or not. For me, the memories revolve around going to the beach and playing hide-and-seek in my Aunt Barb’s huge house. The gifts were those moments spent with my cousins.
So while Bubba and I continue to seek out ways to connect with our families over the upcoming holidays, I struggle to find ways to divert my girls’ attention from the fanfare of gift-giving (or, to be honest, gift-getting) in favor of those spontaneous moments that are generally more rewarding in the long run. I’m not sure what they are yet, but here’s hoping we can continue to emphasize the less tangible aspects of the holiday.

Holiday shopping. Knowing that if I am to purchase, wrap and ship gifts to England before December 25th, I had better get a move on. And I am one of those people that doesn’t have to be in the “holiday mood” to shop for Christmas gifts, but I hate having a deadline. I actually wish that Christmas was celebrated in a totally different way in the United States so that I could get gifts for people I love whenever I dang well please.

Of course, I know retailers and economists everywhere are cursing me right now. What would we do without the holiday season to bolster our earnings/spending? What would we do without this naked consumerism to spur us to spend?
Don’t get me started…
There was a time in my life when I would collect gifts throughout the year. If I was traveling and saw something that stopped me cold, yelled at me to GET THIS FOR _________, I would. And then I would bring it home, slap a sticky note on it with the recipient’s name (lest I forget that moment of clarity I had when I bought it) and tuck it in a closet. Unfortunately, this often led to some people getting mountains of gifts and others woefully short on items under the tree. Some people are just too dang hard to buy for.
I stopped doing this for several reasons, not the least of which was the economic prosperity of the 1990s when people began spending money like it was raining from the sky and I ended up with things to give them that they had already purchased for themselves. I also married Bubba. He is one of those people that believes in absolute equality in gift-giving and he also has to be “in the mood” to shop. Unfortunately, for him, getting in the mood requires that Christmas be no more than 72 hours away and we find ourselves in an enormous mall with six thousand other frantic shoppers. Not my idea of holiday cheer. He didn’t exactly agree with my tendency to overspend by purchasing gifts all throughout the year, either. A few years after we got married, we began drawing names for gift-giving at Christmas and that put the final nail in the coffin of my yearlong gift buying.
I encourage both our families to draw names before Halloween so that I can get a bit of a jump on my gift buying, even if Bubba prefers to wait until the last minute. The honeymoon has been over long enough that I don’t even feel badly about not accompanying him to the mall, so he’s on his own when it comes to getting stuff for the people whose names he drew.
I will admit that while I hate shopping, I love buying gifts. Enter, the internet and catalog shopping. I can shop from the comfort of my very own couch and have items shipped directly to my door. No parking lots. No lines. No frantic shoppers.
I still wish that we could get rid of the massive holiday gift-giving tradition and just get things for people when we want to for no special reason at all. Ironically, I feel like that would make those gifts all the more special. But far be it from me to buck the system that much. I’ve got to take baby steps…