The official season of giving of gifts is upon us. This is embraced by the people who are gifted at giving. Their gifts are always creative, thoughtful and perfectly tailored to meet the needs of the recipient.
I am not those people. I am the person who causes those people crushing disappointment when their lovingly thoughtful gift is not well reciprocated.
In order to appear thoughtful and aware at the holidays, I have to make lists and check them twice all year long. If one so much as utters that they might need anything — from the fantastic to the frivolous — I make it a point to write it down. This means, of course, that my loved ones have gotten careful — and crafty — about what they mention in my presence.
“I wouldn’t mind the new Justin Bieber album” is safe. “We could really use a fly swatter” may lead to an immediate disclaimer of “don’t write that down.”
Of course I shop locally, torturing the helpful souls at the Ace Hardware forced to make sense of my confusion. I like to show up with a part and then explain, helpfully, that what I’m looking or is kind of like this one, but different, bigger really, but then kind of smaller at the ends, and made of a different material altogether of course.
Still, some needs can’t be met via my normal Craigslist/yard sale/Goodwill rotation. My cheap bone tends to be gravely irritated when shopping retail.
For years I ventured out into the wee hours to shop black Friday. I always had a wonderful time. Some of my best shopping memories are of hitting the warm, golden glow of Target or Toys R Us at 6 a.m. with a hot coffee, a friend by my side and a clutch of tote bags over my shoulder because only a rookie believes she is going to score a cart in that mess.
In my experience fellow shoppers were patient and kind. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is the experience of the majority of Black Friday shoppers.
Black Friday store stampedes, while rare, have become the seasonal version of summer’s shark attack stories. Rare, but the media will sniff them out and report endlessly upon them just to have something to do. So it goes with tales of people clawing each other for a door-buster on bath towels.
My good experiences aside, as Black Friday morphed into “shop on Thanksgiving” day, I lost interest in venturing out. When I must pay full retail (perish the thought) I have shifted more and more of my shopping online.
Online shopping offers all of my favorite things — Internet access, shopping and wearing my pj’s all in one express shipped package.
I love online shopping for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to, the opportunity to read reviews from people just like me on what worked — and didn’t — about the product I am considering.
The downside is that online retailers are wickedly good at recording browsing and shopping patterns and helpfully suggesting items I might like.
Sometimes this is a hit — sporting goods based on previous soccer purchasing patterns make sense. Sometimes a miss: purchasing a simple pair of wool socks to keep my toes cozy while standing on the sidelines has somehow convinced the Internet I am an avid hiker. Bless their hearts they are just sure I’m going to pull the trigger on that rock climbing package any day now. It’s as if my endless search for cozy loungewear means nothing.
Better yet, there are a variety of “as seen on TV (and the Internet)” items that pop up. I have only the fondest memories of the year my then preschoolers decided Mommy’s life would be complete if only I had the “Perfect Pancake” pan. They spent weeks breathlessly exhorting me to “tell Santa I want that!”
Entertainment. Now they are older and wiser and laugh uproariously at the commercial for the ear wax vacuum (sorry, were you eating?) Like all “As Seen on TV” product actors, their lives are bland and sad until they are saved by the product being sold. In this case they are so fumble fingered at the use of an old-fashioned (and clearly dangerous) cotton swab that the actor screams in agony upon attempting to use one. We could watch that one over and over.
Our uproarious laughter never gets old. That is the gift that keeps on giving. I’m tempted to purchase one as a gag gift, however, no one has been foolish enough to mention they might want one so I have no excuse to add it to my list. Yet.