On talking trees, fighting crowds and virtual Christmas shopping

Somewhere along the way, my attitude toward Christmas shopping changed…somewhere between Dr. Barbie and one of those toys for which we forgot to buy batteries…and which we remembered in the wee hours of Christmas day. In fact, during a recent stop at a mall, after just 10 minutes, I began to get the heebie-jeebies. My skin started to tingle. Had to get out. Fast.

It used to be so much fun…fighting the crowds in Toys ‘R Us and deciding exactly which set of Legos we should add to the burgeoning collection. Checking off that last item on “THE LIST” was so satisfying. But then one year, it was no longer “fun”. It was just a challenge…a headache that didn’t want to go away. Add to that those years of working retail when the last-minute shoppers would show up 10 minutes before closing time on Christmas Eve, and, well… you get the picture. My dad, with whom I managed a store for several years, once told me that his Black Friday was actually Black Christmas Eve.

Which reminds me. What is this insanity of  shopping at 4 a.m. on Black Friday? Daughter number 2 volunteers to work the early shift on Black Friday. She’s still young enough to think it’s fun to watch people scramble around for the best bargain. Of course, she’s also learned to stand back from the front doors when they open at 7 a.m.

My own Christmas gifting plan changed with the increasing availability of Internet shopping. Choosing gifts became ever so much easier, and it actually became fun again. No more standing in lines. No more feeling as if I was about to faint from hunger because there was no time to eat. Now I can eat while I shop. Multi-tasking at its most efficient. And returns? Easy.

The only problem with Internet shopping is that if you don’t plan right, you can get stuck empty-handed. This happened about 10 years ago, when daughter number 1 had her heart set on a specific wool sweater from J Crew. Ordered it, but dang, if that thing didn’t arrive. I had to wrap the picture. She was very gracious about it. Lucky for me, shortly after noon on Christmas day, the doorbell rang. There was our favorite now-ex-postmaster with a big ‘ol box in his hands. Luckily, he’d seen it come in at the last minute and dropped it off on his way home.

So with Christmas just…gulp…two weeks away, I’ll admit there is one thing I miss  — shopping on Christmas Eve in a busy mall. Okay, I realize this flies in the face of everything I’ve just said, so I should clarify. Actually, I guess it would be “not shopping”. We used to go to people watch on Christmas Eve, back when the Lima Mall still had the fountain in the center, back when Lazarus (now Macy’s) had the talking tree.

Who remembers this?We’d stop at the tree and let the girls chat for awhile. Then we’d head to the fountain, where we’d sit and snicker at the loonies rushing from store to store, looking for the last-minute “perfect” gift. Now, the tree and the fountain are gone and it’s just no fun to stand against the wall to watch.

Anyone know of any good Christmas Eve-shopping-people-watching sites on the Internet? Grab a cup of hot tea, a comfy chair, and enjoy the madness.

3 responses to “On talking trees, fighting crowds and virtual Christmas shopping

  1. “My own Christmas gifting plan changed with the increasing availability of Internet shopping”……
    I must also admit to doing some of my shopping (out of town folks mostly) – but I try very hard to do as much as possible (given knee and hip difficulties) close to home. Those local stores won’t be there, if I don’t stop by and purchase things from them…..even if what we buy comes from across the globe.
    Best of the wonders of this holiday season to you all!

  2. That’s a great idea, virtual people shopping watching. You know how people have web cams of everything. They should have them in malls at Christmas so we can check in every now and then.

    I can’t recall the last time I went to a mall.

  3. They could have them hooked up to Skype so folks can watch others shop online. Whoopee!

    That’s very cool about the postmaster dropping a package off on Christmas Day (even knowing he’s probably the one who sang at your daughter’s wedding).

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