Friday, December 22, 2006

Why I love Christmas Shopping...

Yeah, okay, the cynics all hate it because, you know, it's materialistic and we shouldn't be happy when we're spending money because that's proof that we're buying into the big bad empire of the US... And honestly, yes, Americans do spend more than anyone at this time of year. Jon and I were noticing that the landscape of our towns is all brand new shopping developments. Best Buy, Barnes and Noble, Target, Office Depot, Staples, Dick's Sporting Goods, Costco and lots of insignificant non-chain stores fighting for survival crowd every strip mall and busy street packed with stressed shoppers and aggressive drivers in their parking lots.

No leisurely walks through snowy towns for us. Just flat out races to get iPods and the latest Wii.

Still, I don't care. I love to shop for Christmas anyway.

The check-out lines are long, yes, and it's true that the "Disney Scene It" DVD game was not in the first six stores I checked and when I found it, it was the LAST one and I had to grab it before someone else elbowed past me to nab it and I did actually condescend to purchasing it at Walmart even though I never shop at Walmart and know the kids will cross-examine me about where I bought it...

The thing of it is: I love giving our kids presents. I love to get them things they want, things they need, things they aren't expecting.

Last year Johannah asked only for a donation to the Elizabeth Galzier Pediatic AIDS foundation and I gave the gift amount she asked for and then bought her a skirt anyway and she cried. This year, Jacob told us that he has everything he could ever want. He couldn't even think of a list. So he put one game on his Christmas list when pressed to make one anyway, and it was this Disney game.... which had mysteriously gone out of stock in every Target in the universe, including the Amazon toy universe (serious lack of game-age for my boy). I was disconsolate (great word!).

So today Jon and I braved the stores again. We found ourselves wandering the aisles of yet another Target searching in vain for the game I knew was the only thing Jacob did not possess to make him utterly fulfilled and happy, and tore my top open and lamented outloud (as I am wont to do in stores) that EVERY Target in the known Ohioan universe was out of the only Important Game for Christmas, when a woman, who couldn't help but overhear me (despite covering her ears with both hands and two packages), said (to get rid of us, I thought): I just saw it over at Walmart.

Well knock me over! Being a hyper extrovert pays off at Christmas! So we got details about just which of the 17 Walmarts between that Target and our home she meant.

Then we barrelled out the door into the oppressive traffic and inexplicable rain (no snow?!) and headed to the store. Jon dropped me off where, OJ style, I leapt over shopping carts and small children as I skidded to the toy section of the store. And there, nestled between the Friends and Harry Potter Scene Its was ONE remaining Disney Scene It.... Yes, the last one.

And I nabbed it.

And felt like I'd just purchased Jacob stock in Apple (his preferred gift I'm sure, but hey, who can afford it?).

Pleased as punch am I.

Beyond this, Jon and I merrily shopped for the rest of the brood, talking about each child, the wonderful growth in their personalities, their varied interests, their enthusiasm for life and growing up and all that that can only mean to parents. And I thought: We get to do this once per year. What a treat.

Should Christmas be about materialism? Maybe not.

But for us, Christmas is about a concrete act of giving for the purpose of making each other supremely happy. It may mean lots more than that, but if I'm honest, that's what the kids remember and love about Christmas too. Seems like a great way to spend the end of every year.


Matt said...

Kudos to you and Jon for braving the holiday crowds; I've developed into much more of an Internet shopper over the years (unless I know the location of a good independent bookseller, in which case I end up buying more for myself:-), and appreciate the fact that I can shop at my own pace, and with my own selection of music playing in the background.

I agree with your assertions of the joy of giving to others; I'm at an age where I definitely place more of a premium (and get more joy) on giving, rather than receiving.

Finally, I hope you'll give Johannah a hug from all of us for the beautifully selfless gift suggestion she made. What a remarkable young lady...

- Matt (who still hasn't finished shopping)

Steve said...


A) Please, no more top-rending in department stores.

B) What a joy to hear that you have one child who wants to give to OTHERS for Christmas, and another that did not even have a list.

Sounds like you and Jon are doing a fine job!

A Very Merry and Blessed Christmas to all!

Bilbo said...

Hi Julie,

I too love Christmas particular,I love the lights, colors, Christmas trees and the general ambiance of the season. I don't particularly like the crowds which is why I generally shop at odd hours of the day...but...most of all, I just love the opportunity to give to others. Christmas reminds me of a big birthday party once a year...

Carrie said...

I enjoyed reading about your shopping trip. I don't really get a kick out of shopping for myself, but I do enjoy buying presents. I was so stressed out about it because I hadn't done any before last Monday, but actually had a great time once I got started. I'm very pleased with my purchases.

Will and I braved the mall at almost closing time this evening to buy a last minute gift for Erik. We had a little miscommunication. I thought he'd bought something so I only picked up a small gift. We went out and got him a Seahawks jersy to wear watching football! LOL! Erik has become an unexpected football buddy for Will. Of course, he loves the west coasters! ;-)

Have a wonderful Christmas, Julie!

Ampersand said...

Hey, sorry late to the party here. But, I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed reading this. I can just picture your OJ style leaps into Walmart.