27. November 2006 · Comments Off on Custom of the Season · Categories: Domestic, Eat, Drink and be Merry, Fun and Games, General, Working In A Salt Mine...

I did, on one single occasion, spend the entire Friday-after-Thanksgiving in the mall and department store. Not because I had a yen for joining the yearly Christmas-shopping exercise in masochism… but because I was working retail that year. I was on terminal leave, and job-hunting in a desultory fashion, and took a temp position in a department store which paid a salary plus commission on sales. (If nothing else, this arrangement will guarantee attentive sales staff… and besides, the employee discount was totally generous.) It was rather fun, at first; If you truly enjoy shopping, and hanging out with other women, and people-watching, who wouldn’t get a kick from hanging around a department store? But the day after Thanksgiving was all that and doing a sort of sales-floor triathlon; we were at top speed all that long day. Not much more than half an hour for lunch, no times when it slowed down long enough that you could sit down in the back room and put up your feet.
Dense crowds in the mall, cars slowly rotating the parking lots looking for that rare species, a parking place, long lines at every cash register, and workdays that stretched out so long that another sales associate lamented that the only place she could shop for Christmas, besides the store we worked in was Walmart, because it was open twenty four hours a day. I had my fill of holiday retail madness after that experience, and truth is, I usually don’t need to shop for Christmas presents during December.

That is because I am one of those tiresomely organized people who shop for Christmas throughout the year. I didn’t start out that way, honestly… it came about because of being overseas for so long. The mail deadline for sending parcels to the States, and getting them there by Christmas was routinely in October, which meant that I had to be done with shopping by the end of September. Sometimes opportunities to shop were limited, which stretched the shopping season out for a couple of months, and bumped back even thinking about what to get everyone to… oh, say early summer. Spring, even. This set the habit for me, of buying things with an eye towards Christmas… especially if they were on sale, whenever I saw them. “OOhhh, that would be perfect for (insert name here)!”, so add it to the collection in the box on the top shelf of the master suite closet. Christmas… it comes every year, just like April 15th. Putting off doing anything about buying gifts or doing the income tax return will not, will not make either of them go away. Trust me on this.

This has the advantage of being extremely easy on the pocketbook… as long as you remember who the heck you bought something for; a disadvantage with a large family. So, all I have to do during December’s retail madness is to take out the box with the gifts bought throughout the year, and wrap them… in the paper that I bought the week after Christmas of last year when it was marked down 70%.
And put up my feet and have another glass of Chablis. You’re welcome – I live to serve.

(next: Sgt. Mom’s specialty gift Christmas baskets)

Comments closed.