Are you still out there Christmas shopping? Well, good luck. There are some things you should know about holiday shopping that might help you if you are still stalled in one store and can’t seem to move on.
Christmas shoppers come in all sizes and shapes; they shop alone and in bunches. Some have a Christmas list and others walk around waiting on a vision.
I would never presume to set myself up as an expert on Christmas gift buying. On the other hand, I’ve seen, handled and priced it all over the years.
Here’s basic rules to follow when shopping for the perfect gift.
Never cheat and look on somebody else’s list when they lay it on the counter. This will only confuse you and chances are their’s won’t be any better than yours, and you are really in deep trouble if they can’t spell.
Be careful which line you stand in. I have been known to stand in the gift-wrapping line before I’ve purchased anything. This can set you back in your shopping a good half day.
Be specific when you ask the clerk to help you with a size you’re uncertain about:
“I need a pair of socks for a six-year-old with long legs who is repeating the first grade and wears braces.”
Be firm when the clerk tries to pass a tie box off on you for the sweater you just purchased. You’ll end up with the tie box anyway, but at least he’ll know you’re not so dumb you don’t know the difference between the two.
Regroup. Look around for a shopper carrying a sweater box with a tie slidng around in it, you might be able to work out a swap.
Don’t waste time asking a clerk for a large shopping bag to put your purchases in. She never has one in her department. She’ll just direct you to a line formed downstairs in the basement behind the lamps.
Something about the holiday season brings out the nostalgic. We go back in time and long for the old-fashioned Christmases which were before our time but sounded so wonderful. You know the ones–chestnuts roasting on an open fire (which, Lord knows I wouldn’t eat no matter what they were roasted on,) goodies on the groaning board, frozen carolers singing in the snow and stacks of gifts resting under a freshly-cut towering Christmas tree.
Before you get too carried away, let me take you back and reiterate what an old-fashioned Christmas would really be like.
Just run down this check list and see if you really want to go there.
1. Buy a goose instead of a turkey, preferably a live one. Tie him to the lawn mower in the garage and fatten him on corn. Name him Snowball and instruct your teenage son to clean up after him.
2. Spend six cold hours tromping through the woods looking for the perfect Christmas tree to chop down. Choose a 15- footer and pull it home on a sled for three miles.
3. Give your hair stylist and manicurist a shiny dime for Christmas and watch the look of wonder on their faces.
4. Bake all the goodies for the groaning board.
5. Organize a taffy pull. Watch it stick to the carpet, the cat and Snowball who has now moved inside and become a family pet.
6. Attempt to wrap a stack of festive-looking gifts without Scotch tape.
7. Turn off the furnace and build a fire in the fireplace. Watch everyone turn blue with cold and the bathroom pipes freeze solid by Christmas morning.
8. Let Santa Claus bring the children a pair of handknit mittens, two oranges and a whistle.
HO, HO, HO!
Traditions are what the holiday season is all about. One of my favorites is the infamous “Christmas letter.” You know , it reads like the Donna Reed Show ad nauseam.
Everyone receives at least one every year. Usually from a sorority sister you haven’t seen in 20 years, a high school friend who sat across from you in Algebra II or the third cousin on your husband’s side everyone avoids at the family reunions
The letters read something like this:
“Tis the season of good cheer and our family is brimming over with it as we share with you the terrific things that have happened to us over the past year.” (right there you’re hooked)
“In July, Charlie and I camped out for two weeks with the children in Yellowstone National Park. We filmed a documentary of our experiences which wil be aired on national television. A video tape is enclosed.
Charles, Jr., nicknamed “Big Brain,” just won a scholarship to Princeton where he’s going to be doing research on computer cloning. He’s dating a former Dallas Cowboys chairleader whose father personally knows the White House vet.
Biffy, our dog, had a litter of blue ribbon show puppies, graduated at the top of her class in Obedience School and can sing along with the Willie Nelson Christmas album.
Sara Sweet, our ten-year-old, wrote and directed the school Christmas play and was the winner of a national Frisbee contest. She was voted the most likely to succeed by her baton twirling class.
Brucie, our three-year-old cherub, can change his own Pampers and tie his wet shoestrings.
I received the “Outstanding Mother of the Year” award on our street, which, I might add, covers two city blocks and a vacant lot.
Charlie is president of his own company, drives a Mercedes and still has his own teeth.
Merry Christmas to you, and what’s- his- name, and all the children.”
Moving on into the Christmas mode, I’m tucking my tongue in cheek to talk about outdoor Christmas decorations, which everyone knows, have been getting out of hand FOR QUITE SOME TIME.
Take icicle lights. These lighted wonders have become such popular items we see thousands dangling from roof lines every Christmas season. Not only do they light up during the holidays, but they also hang around and sparkle from the sun’s reflection during the summer months!
Why are they left up year round? Either, (a) owners want to be the first to “click on” the day after Thanksgiving; (b) a husband is still promising to take them down during a football game halftime; or, (c) no one can remember who borrowed the ladder.
Lights have always been an integral part of the holiday season. As predictable as poinsettias and tree lots. Once the Thanksgiving turkey carcass hits the trash can, you begin to see action on the roofs. Homeowners who have prudently stored their lights for fear the icicles would melt (don’t laugh, these folks are out there) begin crawling around on roof tops with strings of colored lights clinched in their teeth. The plan is to put up a multilight extravaganza to rival Disney World and/or the next door nighbor’s.
Decorating used to be so much simpler. I remember the year we changed our 40-watt porch light to a red 60-watter, gift wrapped out mailbox in green foil and hung a plastic wreath on the front door to win Best of Show on our street. (so it was a cul-de-sac, there were several houses)
Nowadays, even cars look naked without a Christmas wreath hanging from the grill.
A few homeowners have crossed the line. Picture this – I know you’ve seen it – house, yard and shrubbery outlined in blinking lights, a revolving musical carousel, seven animated dwarfs, a Santa with Humpty Dumpy on his knee, a live donkey and three wise men sitting in a sleigh…all spotlighted!
Extravaganzas like that don’t come cheap. Just replacing burned-out bulbs and extension cords (which neighbors slip over every night and cut,) can be costly.