Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Reflections on Holiday Shopping 2016

Christmas and Chanukah will soon be here which brings a flurry of holiday shopping.


The where and how of holiday shopping plagues many 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 mall madness increases unabated throughout December. The shopping itself takes on such dimensions that with many people the material supercedes 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 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 a bestseller or something from an unknown author. There are a multitude of useful nonfiction titles: perhaps a cookbook, a book on home repairs, or history. Fiction provides many choices such as romance, mystery, or thriller.

Naturally I’m going to recommend several books that are current:

Smoking Pen Press has just published an anthology of mystery stories entitled: A BIT OF A TWIST as an e-book. It’s an inexpensive treat. I do happen to be included in this one with a story entitled “The Marriage Counselor.” You can check it out here:

                                     www.amazon.com/dp/B01N2UB8O7


Incidentally, this publisher has open calls for future anthologies. So fellow writers, check them out:


I will also mention that my new novel THE INHERITANCE from Intrigue Publishing  which is a stand alone romantic mystery is available in ALL e-book formats and print. Check it out:

Also available from:


What are your feelings regarding holiday shopping? Do you shop online or prefer to shop in person?  Do you give books as gifts? Do you consider books good gifts? What books would you like to recommend, either your own or those of others? Thoughts and comments most welcome!



25 comments:

  1. I am definitely NOT a shopper!
    Great post.
    Good luck and God's blessings
    PamT

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi,

      Well, there's always gift certificates! Thanks for stopping by, Pamela.

      Delete
  2. Jacquie,
    A humorous and very accurate description of going to the mall at this time of the year. Having worked in retail for many, many years, I avoid it at all costs. LOL

    ReplyDelete
  3. Loved the post, Jacqueline. I'm not a shopper..don't care for it at all. I make most of my gifts and over the last few years buy the rest online. So far that's worked...except for the package the post office says was delivered on the 12th but wasn't. :(

    Have a joyous holiday season. My best to you and yours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rose,

      I wish I had a talent for crafts. It's great to make your own gifts. Emerson said the best gift was something you gave of yourself.

      Delete
  4. Bah, humbug on what's become of once enjoyable holidays. My son and I went out to eat one night in mid-November and the restaurant was already decorated and playing Christmas music. When my son commented on it, the waitress replied, 'Well, it's the next holiday.' 'What about Thanksgiving?' my son asked. 'Oh, that doesn't count,' the waitress said.
    Happy Holidays, Jacqui.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi John,

      They really have been downplaying Thanksgiving in recent years because it's not as commercial. The turkeys are probably grateful.

      Delete
  5. Your post brought back all those experiences that persuaded me I didn't care for Christmas. I do shop online for the few items I buy, and the rest is time spent enjoying friends and family and downtime. Thanks for the smiles, Jacquie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Susan,

      With the holidays, for me the big thing is being with family.

      Delete
  6. I think I am not a real American woman because I HATE shopping--for all the reasons you cite and more. My dear daughter, however is a real SHOPPER and she frequently will act as my personal buyer for my own gifting. Happy Holidays to you!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have sons and they are definitely not shoppers. But it would be very nice to have a daughter to help with the shopping. Happy holidays to you too!

    ReplyDelete
  8. With two adult children who are as practical as their mother, we tend to exchange gift cards and the occasional humorous gift. I do find that cyber shopping is becoming more and more attractive for me. I can plot and purchase simultaneously!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Cynthia,

    I am not much of a cyber shopper, but I definitely see the benefits of it.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Online, online, online. I hate crowds. Lovely post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Rita, I think you voice a growing opinion.

      Delete
  11. I hate crowds and the shopping madness as Christmas approaches. It's almost as bad here in the UK as it sounds to be over there. This year, I did nearly all my shopping on-line from animal charity sites since most of my family and friends are fellow animal lovers. It was so easy and stress free. The only visit I made to town was to an actual book shop where I bought several hardback books for family members.
    Happy Christmas everyone!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Hywela,

      It's lovely to hear from you in the UK. My daughters-in-law inform me that they now do most of their holiday shopping online as well. It's great that you donate to worthy charities and also support a local book shop!

      Delete
  12. I have virtually escaped the whole world of gift shopping except the little things I buy for our granddaughters. With the grown up kids, I tell them we should each buy ourselves something we really want or need and then say it's from the other. It's a blessing for all of us because we can avoid the crowds to shop, avoid the line to mail stuff, and avoid getting a gift we don't need, don't want, or doesn't fit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very wise, Patricia! We pretty much do the same.

      Delete
  13. Heh, yeah, after working retail in my younger days, I do all my holiday shopping online these days. I don't do busy places well now that I have children. Thus, why invite unnecessary stress?

    And yes, people should definitely pick up a copy of A Bit of a Twist!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Loni,

      Smart woman! Best to avoid busy places these days for more than one reason. As to A Bit of a Twist, it's a nice inexpensive read for the holidays.

      Delete
  14. Merry Christmas, Jacqueline. Relax and enjoy the holidays.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Happy holidays to you as well, Maris. I'll definitely be taking it easy.

      Delete

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