Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Some Reflections on Holiday Shopping

The where and how of holiday shopping plagues most of us. Nothing can quite compare with the yearly ritual of holiday shopping, which theoretically begins on the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday. However, in actuality it begins much earlier, of late right after Halloween. In fact, the way things are going, pretty soon the stores will start putting up tinsel on the 4th of July.
The frenetic pace of shopping madness increases unabated throughout December. The shopping itself takes on such dimensions that with many people the material supersedes the spiritual aspect of the holidays.
But before the shopping can even begin, there is the business of finding parking at The Mall. Holiday shoppers know when they are nearing this location because traffic becomes as thick as an ant colony, and jockeying for position starts in earnest. Inevitably, a type "A" personality loses patience and aggressively pulls out on the shoulder of the road, speeds ahead, then forces his/her way into the regular stream of traffic. This individual manages to gain perhaps four or five car lengths to ultimately beat the traffic light, forcing other drivers to slam on their brakes and come to an abrupt halt. A cacophony of horns proceeds to announce the general agitation.
Arriving at the mall, one is treated to a breathtaking sight—an unending sea of automobiles. There is quite literally not a parking spot to spare. And so begins the art of cruising for a space. This can be compared to the choreography of a ballet. Automobiles pirouette and arabesque around the lot.
Inevitably, there is a car waiting in each aisle for someone to pull out. Often there are two vehicles set to swoop down like vultures. The poor driver who must pull out of the spot has a serious dilemma: which way to go? One or the other of the waiting drivers must be disappointed, only to drive off angrily, perhaps offering the middle finger salute. Definitely not showing proper holiday spirit! (More like the gunfight at Okay Corral)
Drivers keep cruising, ready to dive like kamikaze pilots when they find a likely target--barely avoiding fender benders--a holiday miracle in itself. No matter how many spaces exist, there are never enough.
Another technique involves following those who are leaving. Sometimes these shoppers are merely putting away their packages and return to the Mall for further exploration. Then there is the individual, fully aware someone is waiting for his/her parking spot, who decides this is a good time to sit and light up a cigarette, fiddle with the car radio, or begin a philosophical discussion on the meaning of life with someone they've conjured on a cell phone.
Most amazing of all are those who decide to grab the closest parking spot. I'm talking here about nabbing the spaces set aside for the handicapped. These artists fall into several categories. First are those who have no physical impediment whatsoever but park illegally because they don't want to continue cruising. We have no trouble spotting them as they run out when the police start ticketing. The second category: those who somehow obtained handicapped stickers yet can move like gazelles, either had some impediment but are over it and kept their stickers, or obtained them illegally in the first place. There seem to be a growing number of these talented artists who we may refer to as prima donnas. With so many people claiming the right to place handicapped stickers in their automobiles, I am waiting for the time when non-handicapped signs will be issued instead.
After managing to obtain a parking spot and reaching the Promised Land of the Mall, we are greeted by a chorus of Hallelujah from the sound system. Unfortunately, by this time, we are almost too weary to shop.
When Christmas and Chanukah come and all the gifts are finally handed out, matters are not in the least resolved, as a good portion of those gifts will end up being returned soon after. (The heaviest shopping day of the entire year is December 26th) So just when we think our holiday shopping is finally done, it's only just begun!
Then there's the matter of re-gifting. That's the most bizarre ritual of all. This refers to presents that don't come with any clue as to where they were purchased. Even Sherlock Holmes would scratch his head in perplexity.
These are gifts that no one in their right mind would want to keep: purple plaid socks, perfume that would make a skunk turn up its tail in disgust. Well, you get the picture! So what does one do with such odious presents? Naturally, we save them and give them to those who have given us their re-gifts. You know you've gone full cycle when one of your re-gifts is gifted back to you.
So how do we avoid mall madness? More people than ever are turning to online shopping. I would like to suggest that e-books are excellent gifts to give. You don’t have to run around. You can make your selections in comfort. And you don’t have to spend your life savings. There’s a perfect book for everyone, whether nonfiction: perhaps a cookbook, a book on home repairs, or fiction such as romance, mystery, or thriller.
Naturally I’m going to recommend some of my own books that are currently available:
My prize-winning Highlands historical romance THE CHEVALIER available in all e-book formats:
TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS my paranormal Regency romance endorsed by bestselling author Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick is available in all e-book formats including Kindle:
My e-book of short stories BEYOND THE BO TREE offers stories for every taste:
My co-authored family mystery novel THE THIRD EYE is A Five Star/Cengage novel:
My latest novels available as e-books are:
THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER, published by Astraea Press, a clean read that’s not just for teens!
Readers of GONE GIRL may enjoy THE BAD WIFE, an adult suspense thriller, full of surprising twists.  From Perfect Crime Books:
Published in a new, updated edition, DEATH LEGACY is now available as an e-book from Amazon, Kobo, Apple, or Google. This romantic mystery suspense thriller received excellent reviews in hardcover edition from Publishers Weekly and Booklist among others. You can check it at:

There is a book for every taste available for ordering online. What are your feelings regarding holiday shopping? Do you give books as gifts? Do you consider books good gifts? Thoughts and comments most welcome!


  1. I smiled as I read this post, Jacqueline, because you painted a very vivid and accurate picture of holiday shopping. As to fighting traffic at the mall, I avoid it at all costs.
    To answer your question, I love giving books for Christmas presents to adults and to children and I love when someone gives a book to me. :)

  2. Hi, Pat,

    Glad my whimsical blog made you smile. I consider books the best gifts as well. Thanks for stopping by on this busy day!

  3. An excellent blog, Jacquie. I especially like the comment about handicapped drivers. I wonder if they sell those stickers? Altho some really need them, of course. Anyway, I do less and less shopping as the years go by. Mostly checks for family now, who need money more than what I can buy. Or books, yes, for the grandkids. Happy Christmas to you!

  4. Hi, Nancy,

    Thanks for stopping by. My husband agrees and likes to give money as gifts for family members so they can buy what they really want.

  5. Books, whether ebooks or the dead-tree variety, let you personalize your gift-giving. I enjoy giving and receiving them.

    1. Hi, Mike,

      Thanks for commenting. Yes, I also like to give books as gifts.

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  7. Merry Christmas! Great post! I gave a lot of books this, and every, year!

    1. Thanks for dropping by, D'Ann. Your books are definitely popular!

  8. I think it was the Mall of America that soured me. So much stuff! Mostly I shop online, at craft shows, and in independent shops, including my fabulous local bookstore, The Toadstool.
    Even online can be an adventure. I ordered a print book from Amazon; it left Breinigsville, a town twenty miles west of where the recipient lives, traveled 400 miles north to me in NH, where I will add value by wrapping it in fancy paper, then I'll transport it 400 miles south again in my car. At least the book has an adventure.

  9. Oh, how I hate to shop. So, the holiday horror mall gives me hives! YES--give books--my grand kids would not know what else to expect of me. Happy holidays and may you continue to post these amazing blogs.

  10. Susan,

    Thank you for your kind words! Happy holidays to you and yours. And keep reading!