Saturday, November 26, 2011

Holiday Shopping Holiday



I wish I was one of those people who hadn't shopped on Black Friday, but I'm not and I'll live with that fact pretty easily. I wasn't camped outside Walmart or Best Buy. Instead, I waited on a very short line to get into American Girl (as described yesterday) for my daughter's birthday. There wasn't any pushing or shoving, no guns or pepper spray, no busting of doors. There was just a small group of parents and kids talking amicably about how silly we all were waiting American Girl to open but how grateful we were that we weren't rushing in for a sale. Nothing, absolutely nothing ever goes on sale at American Girl.

I have harbored dreams of not spending any money on Black Friday. Again, I would love to say that I achieved that goal, but instead I probably dropped about $500 yesterday across New York City and again I'm okay with that. No sweat. Everything we did yesterday was in support of my daughter's birthday and it was all very good stuff indeed. What I realize today, reading about the nonsense that went on yesterday across the country as people tried to get cheap deals first thing in the morning or in the dead of night, is that I don't have to pay attention to the date on the calendar and that avoiding spending begins with me.

We were in New York not for Black Friday but simply because it happened to be the day my daughter was born. In a couple days we will have Cyber Monday for reasons passing understanding. Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday are antiques. Black Friday is left over from a time when the only shopping options were to go to a store or get on the telephone. Now, I do almost all my shopping (aside from groceries) using the laptop from my couch. Going to the store seems like far too much of a bother. Why waste the gas, take the time, and brave the crowds? And Cyber Monday? That's a left over from when people had dial-up at home and waited until they went back to work at businesses with high-speed connections and shopped then. Do people still do that? Maybe they do, but I don't see any reason to.

As for the spending thing, it begins with me in that I have decided this year that there are very few things I need. It's a good feeling and I hope that my loved ones will be okay with it. My mother likes to get me a book, so I'll ask her for a book of poetry. Those I like to own since I go back to them again and again. Fiction and nonfiction I can borrow from the library. My wife understands that I don't really want anything. We will exchange tiny gifts at Hannukah, but there won't be large things for Christmas (yeah, we do both) for me.

I don't need much of anything right now. It's a good feeling and one that I often fight during the holidays. The thought goes like this: I have to think of some things for people to get me. Well, that's just silly. Instead, I can ask for things that don't cost any money, that don't require a trip to the store, and that are better. I've asked my wife for a note or story she will write. My daughters are going to make a piece of art for me that I can hang in the bedroom. My parents will get me the book of poetry and I might ask my father if he has any hand-me-down tools that would make it easier for me to build a project I'm working on. My brother, this year, is going to do an elevation drawing of our house if I have to sit him in a drawing chair in the road and direct traffic around him.

As for me, I plan on giving things I can make, things that someone will remember longer than a sweater, a calendar, a knick-knack. I haven't figure out what those things will be yet and will have to work at that, but I have this writing thing I do and people seem to like to get things that have something to do with them.

We aren't going to get an X-box, Wii, or iPad. So it goes. I don't think that we'll miss any of those things and I know that the present we will have instead is that we will have missed the shopping season and instead, just maybe, have been present for the holiday season instead.

Write on.