Sydney AveyDynamic Women — Changing Times
Shopping for Christmas?
Shopping for Christmas gifts seems less fun with each passing year. The only folks I know who enjoy the frenzy are competitive shoppers for whom Black Friday is an annual adrenaline-fueled tradition. Others approach the experience with business-like acumen. They knock out their list in minutes on cyber-Monday, no sweat. Not me or the woman I encountered at Kohl’s this week.
My early bird arrival paid off; I didn’t have to elbow anyone while I evaluated the plush throws in stacked in a bin. I fingered a forest-themed lap blanket and pictured it softly draped across my wheel-chair bound mother-in-law’s knees until a keening noise startled me. A woman holding several hangars of clothes stood in the aisle looking like she couldn’t breathe.
“Are you alright?” I asked.
“This isn’t fun anymore,” she wailed.
We talked about the plight of grandmas who prefer to choose gifts that say lovin’ for kids who’d rather have cash. We discussed the blight of consumerism and the fight we put up to stay current on our kids’ interests.
“I’ve got the house all decorated, inside and out, ” she said. “But I’ve lost the Christmas spirit.”
I wish that at that moment I’d had the perfect words to express what I was feeling. Earlier in the week, I’d had the same thoughts. It’s not the fun it used to be.
My memories of Christmas shopping have little to do with purchasing gifts. The magic was standing on the pavement outside Macy*s in San Francisco ogling artistic window displays. We’d walk into the City of Paris and look up (way up) at the Christmas tree festooned with lights and ornaments. Music, animated toys, shoppers dressed in holiday finery, flower vendors, treats at the Fairmont Hotel contributed to the general excitement.
Today, everything they tell us we want is available at whatever price we want to pay. Every store looks the same; no gift is unique. It’s like fishing at a trout farm where you’re guaranteed to pull up something. The experience isn’t the same as standing in hip waders in a flowing river, breathing fresh, cold air, hoping to snag a wriggling rainbow.
I admire folks (like my sister) who keep an eye out all year long for something special in some little boutique (thanks, sis, for my foxy tea mug.) Me? By the time I’ve overthought am an eye-catching item, my enthusiasm has waned. (That’s because I have gifts stacked in the closet that have never found the right giftee.)
A few years ago I decoupled Christmas spirit and gift shopping. In this season of our lives, a small tree for sparkle, a nativity set for memories, some candles, and a welcoming wreath at the door make me smile. At family celebrations, presents take a back seat to food, fun, and games.
A lineup of Christmas concerts brings us joy. In these bitter days, time spent preparing our hearts for the main event is restorative. Activities such as Advent reading and gathering with friends to sing sacred carols at weekly worship services offer us rest and perspective.
Perhaps next year I’ll order a few extra concert tickets to give out to people I meet who have lost their Christmas spirit. After all, it isn’t something you can find in a display bin. It’s a gift.
© Sydney Avey