I discovered something amazing this year. I enjoy Christmas shopping…in person…at the mall! I know, I can’t believe it either. Let me tell you how I came to this incredible revelation.
Procrastination Breeds Desperation
This year our family Christmas celebration was broken up into two distinct events with one week and two days in between each gathering. Due to a growing extended family and the obligations that go along with that, we went to my mom’s house the weekend before Christmas. To this point, all shopping and preparations had been focused on them knowing there would be plenty of time to shop for my own family here in Houston.
Suddenly on Monday, December 17th I realized not one single gift had been purchased for the kids and grandkids…crunch time! I was now on a serious mission; one that I have avoided for several years thanks to the ease of online shopping. But something changed. Because I no longer had the luxury of passively shopping from my recliner, I was forced outside into the crazy world. I felt a mild sense of panic. It is the week before Christmas. Will there be anything left. Toys ‘R Us is gone and the grands are growing up. I’m not sure I even know how to do this kind of Christmas shopping. But, being the diligent person I try to be, I strapped myself into my trusty sneakers and confidently marched out the door.
The Thrill of the Hunt
As is to be expected, the atmosphere in the mall was quite hectic. I could feel my adrenalin rushing as I merged into the flow of mall traffic. There were people jockeying for position to exit into one store or another slowed by the folks ambling along, lost in their own world, silently checking items off their lists.
And then there was me. My short legs and foot issues making it quite challenging to keep up with the flow until I suddenly realized, “I don’t have to rush. I have all day and I need to enjoy the process.” You see, I think somewhere along the line we have been brainwashed by the online retailers of the world that shopping from home at any time of the day or night, and in any state of dress or undress, is the best way to buy gifts. For years I used my work as an excuse to avoid shopping, but this year…this year is different. Something in me is different. I want to experience more, to be outside the protective cocoon on home.
Slow Down And Enjoy The Season
I slowed down. I strolled. I looked in stores I would not normally go to. I smiled at people and enjoyed watching children wait in line to tell their biggest wish to Santa. I drank in the joy and the anticipation that should be the essence of Christmas.
As an introvert I try to avoid large crowds and overwhelming situations. That is the excuse I used to stop Christmas shopping at the mall. Certainly for me one of the things that has changed is that I no longer work outside the home. My weekdays are now free and this makes a huge difference. I also do not have children at home and my husband is quite self sufficient. Thus, my time is fluid and I can shop when others are unable. I am passing no judgement on those who don’t have this flexibility. Trust me…been there, done that!
The most important lesson I learned is that I needed to experience just a small dose of Christmas out in the world. The gifts are symbols of a far greater promise.
Fewer Choices Means Less Stress
As I have shared before I suffer from analysis paralysis when it comes to making most any decision. So, imagine me in a place with more options than the human mind could possibly conceive, and you have the making of a monumental meltdown. But not this year.
I realized that when I went shopping for a general category of gift such as a hoodie, a hair implement, something unicorn, rather than a specific brand, options opened to me and my stress level went way down. I was actually able to relax and choose the best option from what was available. And in the process, I had fun!
Enjoy Saving Money
Finally, I saved quite a bit of money waiting until the “last minute” to shop. Stores, anxious to clear out as much merchandise as possible before end of year inventory counting, slashed prices up to 60% off! I’m not a huge bargain shopper but it is nice to save money whenever possible.
Wrapping It Up
This afternoon we will be celebrating with our kids; enjoying good food, laughing and having fun together. A midnight candlelight church service and then a quiet Christmas morning, just the two of us. That sounds sad to some people, but to us it sounds perfect. We have spent so much of our marriage doing the holidays for other people, we never had the chance to just be us. We were an instant family. So now that we are empty nesters this hen and her rooster are happy to just be together.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!