I haven’t liked Christmas shopping since I worked in a bookstore at a Mall over 20 years ago.
Against a backdrop of giant Christmas Trees and canned Christmas music I saw humanity at it’s worst.
People demanded I fire employees who were not able to find them the books they wanted. I had people throw Christmas cards down on the counter and tell me how to fill them out. I saw people screaming at their kids, each other I saw a lot of people on the verge of tears.
All in the quest for ‘ a gift ‘.
One year I saw a kid ( he was about ten years old ) look up at his Mom and he said, ” Just get me gift cards. You always buy the wrong things and you buy crappy presents.”
She said, ” I try.”
” To buy crappy presents?”
The woman shook her head and was trying to ignore him and when he saw he didn’t have her attention he said, ” Dad said all he wants are gift cards too. He says you always buy him stuff he doesn’t want.”
The woman set her purse on the counter. ” I’d like to get a gift certificate.”
” I hope you’re not getting that for me or Dad. We don’t like this bookstore.”
I went home that night and looked at our Christmas tree and then I reached down, yanked out the plug and the tree went dark.
I felt a lot better.
So for me the challenge is buying presents for anyone at all.
After seeing a random collection of people I began to wonder if the people who gave me gifts felt the same way as the people I saw at the Mall when they bought it.
I’d watch my family open things I gave them and I’d watch every muscle in their face to see if I could tell what they really thought of my present to them.
I couldn’t tell.
Last year this friend off mine ambushed me. She said she wanted to go for hot chocolate and pie and on the way there she said she had to run into the mall. Not my favorite place during the holidays. Then she decided to take a spin through the neighborhood so we could see the lights and decorations – last years thing was giant gift packages and inflatable snow globes. Seriously, it was a tribute to shopping and it really did freak me out
All of those elves and snowmen holding giant gift wrapped packages with maniacal smiles on their faces, ” Here you go give them this…they’ll love it, they’ll love you. bwahahahaaaa!”
I ignored Christmas for the next few weeks.
This year I decided to focus on things like Christmas music and stories and writing- I still can’t bring myself to do the commercial thing with much enthusiasm. I wish I could. I suppose it could be an adventure. So, just when I think I’m ready to jump into the pool and go for it, I see that woman with the rotting corpse of the Holiday Spirit in her eyes and her obnoxious kid, ” You buy crappy presents. ”