Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Shopping Again? Didn’t We Just Do This?

This post is a new and improved version of an older post. Enjoy!

Christmas comes on the same day every year and yet it always seems to take me by surprise.  One minute I’m at a Memorial Day picnic contentedly chomping on a burger, the next I’m sniffling through “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  Where does the time go? And, as if to help us, stores are putting up Christmas decorations earlier and earlier.  Soon, I expect to see a sweaty Santa in a wife-beater tee-shirt selling back to school supplies in a shameless yet ingenious display of cross-promotional advertising.

School bells ring
Are you listenin’?
It’s still summer
Santa’s glistenin’

            Most of us rebel against this not so subtle early holiday push by not shopping at all until it’s too late. Then we end up in the merciless jaws of the Christmas Eve Crush: dashing through the mall buying anything that’s not nailed down. This might explain how one year I ended up with the gift of a smartly-dressed mannequin, but that’s another story.

            There is an alternative. My Grandfather loved Christmas music. He thought it was beautiful enough to be played all year long. When we hear department stores playing Christmas music we get angry because we know it’s just blatant consumer manipulation. But if we take the music back and play it ourselves throughout the year, maybe we can reclaim the beauty and joy of it.

            This idea might work with Christmas shopping as well. Instead of buying Christmas presents at Christmas time, do it all year long. I know that sounds like I’m playing right into the greedy capitalist hands of the one percent, but hear me out. Waiting until the holidays means shopping under pressure. In the crunch we are hard-pressed to remember what someone might really want or need. And we often end up buying them crap: ties, mug warmers, and fruity-smelling bath and body sets. Now these things in and of themselves are not bad gifts, IF that is what the recipient really wants. But it almost never is.

            The best way to shop for someone is to observe and listen to them. Sure everybody wants a Lexus Christmas to Remember, but it’s the little things that you notice and remember about someone that touches their heart.  (I know a Lexus would touch them too, but let’s assume we’re working with a budget, shall we.)

            Any stalker will tell you, if you pay attention to someone their tastes become obvious. I have a cousin who gives me beautiful hat, glove, and scarf sets. Why? I never told her I like that stuff. But when she sees me in the winter, that’s what I’m wearing. The logical deduction is ‘Leighann must like winter accessory sets.’  I do. Ergo she gives me great ones. 

          My family did the same with my husband. They all know he’s a great cook. A few Christmases ago he received a plethora of very nice cooking pans and serving dishes. Now they tried to say that those gifts were for “us”, but I’m not fooled. Those were gifts for “him.” But I’m not mad. I am touched by the fact that my family cared enough to notice.  They gave him things that he not only likes, but uses. And I, of course, get to eat whatever he makes. It would have been nice, though, if someone had also seen fit to give me the gift a gym membership so I could work off the good eats. Just sayin’.

            So pay attention, purchase a few things throughout the year, and when Christmas rolls around again – and it will, damn it -- you’ll either already have your shopping done or have a better idea of what to give. No more mindless mall sprinting for you.  Now, if all your observations still lead to the Lexus, go with the bath and body set.

Thanks for reading The Urban Erma. You can listen to the podcast on Podbean or subscribe for free on iTunes. In case you were wondering, in addition to blogging I am also a pretty good stand-up comedian. I do "Thinking Cap Comedy." If comedy were music, I'd be Jazz. Want to see a show? Check out my schedule at @

1 comment:

Sean said...

Ha. Wife already got me killer boots. My presents to her are sorted as well.