Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Spirit of the Shopping Season

Christmas is getting closer. A couple of weeks ago, I was miles ahead of the curve with my shopping. Now, with less than a week to go...I'm behind.

I'm not quite sure how that happened, to be honest. I think it's the fact that my family is growing exponentially and every time I think I'm done, I realize that there's still one person for whom I need to buy a gift.

As I've said earlier, I love Christmas. I love shopping. I accept the commercialism because it's part of the season. I love the scents, sounds, know all this because I've said it before. Yet, there are times, I confess, as a Singleton, that Christmas is slightly lonely. I have some good friends who are also single so it's always nice to commiserate. Yet when Christmas Day rolls around, I wonder where, exactly, I went a little wrong.

It's a purely passing frame-of-mind. Once Christmas Day is over, I'm ok again. Well, at least until New Year's. Then I start to wonder where my year went and whether it was really worthwhile to spend the year trying to come to grips with a job, write a novel and buy a house.

That's really a trick question to myself: I've had a pretty good year, even if I don't particularly adore my job.

On a normal day, it's easy to look back and reflect upon the good things that have happened over the past year. I wrote a novel, I bought a house, I came up with another novel in my head, I had some minor writing successes, I managed to stay in touch with my good friends, I managed to spend time with my family. All in all, it's been a good year.

Yet there's something about the holidays that make it just a little harder to realize that I'm alone. I've dated more this year than I ever have which, admittedly, isn't exactly a world record. Nevertheless, I've tried. I did finally accept that I'm a wee bit of a commitmentphobe and I needed to move beyond that if i wanted to find someone. Unfortunately, the someone's just don't seem to be matching up.

Nevertheless, I don't want to say I need a significant other in order to enjoy Christmas. I don't. I know this. However, I do sort of wish they'd stop playing all those jewelry commercials on TV. You know the ones I mean, the ones that show the man placing a necklace around his wife's neck while she sleeps soundly. Yet, somehow, when she wakes up, her hands immediately go to her throat and she smiles with pure love and adoration and kisses her husband even though she hasn't even seen the bloody necklace!. I mean, what if, to her, it was the most hideous thing she's ever seen? Yet, they don't show that. They just show her smiling lovingly at her man, knowing he bought her jewelry without even seeing it.

Ok, I know...that's not the point. It's still a stupid commercial. It's not intended to make me feel lonely because I don't have a man to accidentally almost strange me in my sleep by trying to be romantic. It's meant to make men say, "hey, look! I could do that to my wife."

Sometimes I wonder if there are statistics on "Near Death Experiences of Women Who Are Victims of Their Husband's Trying to be Romantic."

Perhaps it's no wonder I'm single.

Yet it's not just jewelry commercials that annoy me. There are plenty of other ones. For example, they're now commercials that tout "Give the Gift of a Lexus."

I'm thinking there should be an entirely different TV network for rich folk because when I hear that commercial, the first thing I want to do is laugh somewhat insanely. Then I want to hit the announcer with my shoe. I mean, ok, so our economy is slowly improving but do you honestly think that the people watching the commercials can afford a Lexus? Yes, I thought not. Those that can afford a Lexus generally can also afford a DVR so they don't even watch commercials.

I hate commercials where the gift is a car with a big red bow on it. I'm guessing that the largest percentage of the audience for those commercials could barely afford the bow, never mind a car. I, personally, don't think a car is a good gift. First of all, it's a bit of a money trap. Ok, so in the beginning it's shiny and sleek. Then it needs gas. Then it needs an oil change. For the richer folk, the driver gets fed up of it and trades it in thereby making the gift slightly redundant. If it's not driven by a rich person, it's driven by a normal person who, most likely, puts off the oil change because they're overpriced. They need to get new tires but don't bother until the tires are bald and scary. Then it starts to cough...then die. Then the owner may decide to enroll in AAA or, more likely, not. The car dies. The owner gets mad...

You get the picture. Cars are NOT good gifts.

It's also like cell phones. Every year, there's a plethora of commercials for cell-phones as gifts. This is just lovely except...cell phones aren't easy. First of all, a real cell-phone needs a plan which means it needs a provider. Every provider has a 'catch.' Secondly, when you buy a phone as a gift, where does the commitment end? You're considered cheap if you just buy the phone and don't bother with a plan. If you get the plan, are you also responsible for overage charges? Do you pay for that extra text message that cost $2.00 to send because the phone-user had just reached her limit when it was sent? Does the recipient of the cell-phone-as-gift hand you the bills to pay? Do you pay up front and assume the user will be obedient and never go outside the limits of their plan?

You can see why I would never, in a million years, give a cell phone.

Me, I prefer to give non-conventional gifts, gifts that aren't necessarily on a Christmas list. I've run into some slight problems with this. I've had friends who have raved about an item they'd love to have and I've made a mental note. Yet, by the time Christmas has rolled around and I've bought them a gift I thought they wanted, they tend to act like I'm crazy for buying it. I also try to buy gifts for people that I know they almost bought themselves but ended up being practical and saving their money. Sometimes this works out but, occasionally, you run into the friend that accepts the gift but seems to think it slightly odd that you actually bought the gift for them.

I suppose it is easier to use a Christmas list. Yet, I confess, I have a slight problem with lists because, to quote my father, "mail order Christmas's aren't right."

I agree with this. I don't like using the holiday as a chance to restock someone's video game supply, movie shelf or book collection. I like to go out and think what it might be that the gift recipent might actually want rather than what they need. I like to think of Christmas as a time to give gifts that show that I actually know a person rather than just feel obligated to buy them something.

I think, perhaps, this may be why I manage to retain my love of Christmas: I blantantly find ways to ignore the commercial side and I make up my own version.

Whether or not my gift recipients agree, that is another story. At the very least, it's fun to shop, to wrap and to remember why I'm buying gifts. At this point, it's not an obligation, it's a fun past time in December that I look forward to every year. Perhaps it's a rebellion against the fact that I'm still single and my obligations are relatively few but I'd prefer to think of it as being strong in the fact of intense pressure.

Either way, it's still Christmas and I still love it.

Happy Friday.

1 comment:

Cindy K. said...

"I like to think of Christmas as a time to give gifts that show that I actually know a person rather than just feel obligated to buy them something."

YES! I could not agree more with this statement.

I hate buying the obligatory gifts, trying to figure out what they would like, and ultimately buying something totally generic. If you do not know someone well enough to know what they would like, why are you buying them a present? The obligation part takes the fun out of both the giving and recieving part.

And when you buy something they've noticed, commented on, etc., it shows you are actually paying attention to the person.

And for the record, you have never given me a gift I didn't love. The effort you put into choosing gifts shows.