The older I get, the more I understand why my grandmother started giving checks for Christmas gifts.
I hate Christmas shopping.
I hate traffic jams at the mall and stores torn up like an apocalypse hit.
I hate wandering aisles, sifting through piles of stuff in search of the perfect gift.
I hate hearing news stories about people getting into fights over the latest gadgets.
I hate spending my hard-earned money on crap that ends up broken or stuffed away.
I especially hate the rampant commercialism and greed that has taken over the Christmas season.
Whew, that’s a lot of hating. Sorry about that.
To me, it just seems crazy that for a month or so each year the entire country goes on a massive buying binge. I’d blame it on the advertisers, but the truth, as I see it, is that Christmas has become an excuse for people of all ages to engage in large-scale self-indulgence disguised as giving.
I mean, you give, you expect to get back. Not all of us, but many. We want gifts, and not just on our birthdays.
I know — I’m such a Scrooge, but the insanity of it all, and the expectation by society that I must spend a small fortune unnecessarily once per year, really ticks me off. It’s one of the reasons why I started waiting until the last minute to do my Christmas shopping. Aside from enabling me to avoid the dreaded deed until absolutely necessary, there are benefits to waiting until the last minute.
Last minute shopping forces you to be efficient. You don’t have hours to waste strolling through store aisles, agonizing over finding the perfect gift. You go in, get a gift, and get out.
(I suppose online shopping is similar in this way, but I like to see in person and touch items before I buy them. It gives the act some semblance of meaning.)
Last minute shopping requires you to be creative and think outside of the box, as in big box stores. Since you know their merchandise is going to be picked over or gone, plus it’s generally cheap junk, you’re more apt to hit up local small businesses. That’s where you’ll find unique, more personalized gifts, many hand-crafted by local artisans. You also get to chat with the owners and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you’re supporting local businesses.
You’re apt to spend less money when you shop last minute. It’s easier to lose track of spending when you’re doing it in smaller chunks over the course of several weeks or months. You’re also more likely to succumb to making unplanned last minute purchases as Christmas nears.
By contrast, when you wait until the last minute to do all of your shopping, you have a clearer sense of how much money you’re doling out. You’re more likely to rein in the spending if you see it going overboard. You can’t make unplanned last minute purchases because you’re out of time.
(Here’s an article I found that supports the theory that last-minute shoppers spend less: http://www.cio.com/article/2863173/online-marketing/why-last-minute-holiday-shoppers-are-worth-less-to-you.html)
Last minute shopping frees you up to enjoy the fun parts of Christmas. These might include trimming the tree, holiday lights, and gathering with family (well, not everyone finds this last part fun); watching movies like It’s a Wonderful Life; Charlie Brown’s Christmas, which turned 50 this year; seeing the delight on little one’s faces when they open their gifts from Santa; and listening to Bing Crosby’s White Christmas over and over because it reminds you of your grandmother, the one who wrote the checks.
Let us also remember the true meaning of Christmas, often forgotten in the buying frenzy: Jesus’s birthday. We can honor His spirit by spreading peace, love, and good will this holiday season. None of this costs a dime, but it’s needed far more in this world than the latest gadget.