Dec 15, 2008

Monday: I Like Christmas Shopping

Like most people, there’s a lot of things I really like about the Christmas season. I enjoy singing Christmas carols in church. I like seeing people in the neighborhood decorate their houses. Watching the old Christmas cartoons and movies that come on all day, everyday, starting right after Thanksgiving never gets old. I like reading through the actual Christmas story with my family or friends to help remind me what the focus of the season should be. Aside from all that stuff though, I also enjoy doing the yearly Christmas shopping.

It’s probably because I have a relatively small list of targeted gift receivers. If I was part of a 12 kid family or something, I probably wouldn't be a huge fan of this particular activity. Also an important distinction probably needs to be made here; I don’t really like normal shopping. I hate going out and buying new clothes, wandering around a mall, or comparing prices trying to beat the retail system. Christmas shopping is different though. It’s about other people. It’s like this game where someone sent you out on a treasure hunt to find something, anything, from this list they gave you. Or if they wanted to be particularly risk taking (or possibly lazy), just sent you out with nothing but vague impressions of what they would like, based on what you’ve learned about them when hanging out together. Like a test to see if you’ve been paying attention the past 11 months. As an introvert who enjoys just sitting back and observing people, it’s weirdly fun to try and profile your friends and family to find a present they might like.

Shopping at Christmas time differs in other ways also. Obviously, the closer you get to Christmas the busier all the stores get, and the more frantic people get as they start to stress out about adequately participating in the festivities of the 25th. As a happy side note of all that craziness, it means that when I actually do head out to knock out the yearly gift purchasing, in spite of the larger, crazier crowds, it’s actually more peaceful. Confused? Let me explain. There’s few things more awkward then sitting in a store, trying to pick out the stuff you need or just looking around all while trying to dodge all the employees that work there. I’m sure they mean well coming over and asking you if you need help every time they see you, but at times it comes off a little like they really just have no confidence that you’ll ever find what you’re looking for and just end up wandering the aisles until the store has to force you out so they can close. All the craziness also saves you having to make too much small talk with the super busy cashier or whoever. And don’t think that the cashier is too broken up missing out on hearing your super interesting holiday plans either. I know first hand that as interesting as those small talks were with customers, time goes much faster when it’s busy and I didn’t have to say anything other then “hey how’s it going, here’s your total, Merry Christmas.” So along with the game aspect of finding that mystery item that makes sense to give your friend or family member, there’s the added bonus of being able to take care of it while getting lost in the crowd, which as I stated earlier can be very peaceful.

There’s a bunch of other cool things about looking for Christmas gifts. There are the awesome decorations going on all over town (I’m kind of a sucker for decorations). There’s the general happy vibe that everyone has knowing that they are going to get to celebrate a holiday soon. For some people there’s also the added bonus of an activity that naturally lends itself to making a list and progressively crossing things off (let’s see…. I got him something, *check*, her something *check*, that family is taken care of *check* etc.), I’m not really into that, but I know a lot of people who are. The best thing though is probably the simplest, the excitement that comes from the knowledge that you are putting effort into making someone else’s life a little better. Even if it is just by giving them a bunch of DVD’s or super plush towels. You experience that feeling of being selfless that comes so infrequently outside of the holiday season. So the base essence of the enjoyment of the wonderful thing that is Christmas shopping is the awesome opportunity it gives you to think of others, what they mean to you, and allows you to show some gratitude and affection in such a simple way.

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