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Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Ghost Of Christmas Shopping Seasons Past

As the Christmas season sneaks up on me, I am reminded of many Christmases past. The first I recall was the year of the job. I think you all have been through this one. It was the year I had my first good paying job and fell into shopoholic mode. I didn’t realize what was happening until my money was spent. But how wonderful the faces looked as they unveiled what I worked so hard to purchase for them. My loved ones "ooohhhed" and "aaahhhed" at the sight of the expensive gifts that were hidden behind the perfectly wrapped boxes. It wasn’t until much later the following day that I realized not only had I overspent, but I was the only one who had. I’m not saying it isn’t the thought that counts. A comparable gift would've, however, been nice. So I sat broke with my crappy gifts considering taking them back to the store for what I really wanted. I then realized that most of my family members either shopped at trade shows, auctions or had removed every last tag leaving me wondering where in the world they shopped.

Another year, much like the “Hard Candy Christmas” Dolly Parton sang of, also comes to mind. It was the year my heart was overflowing with the spirit of giving but there was one tiny problem. I was totally broke. It was the year I would have felt proud to bring a jar of hard candy to those I cared most about. Instead I baked. The alternative was wrapping things others had given me that I hadn’t used from the year before. In the back of my mind I knew those things would certainly be better birthday gifts if my financial situation didn’t clear up in time for my mom’s birthday. So I worked feverishly to bake my best Christmas cookies. The thrill of that year came when my grandmother said, "There is nothing sweeter than a gift made by your own two hands." I then knew, she too, had experienced a Hard Candy Christmas or two in her time.

A few years later came the year of the grab bag. That was the year I only bought one gift. It was a gift for someone whose name I pulled out of a hat on Thanksgiving Day. Sure it was great for me financially but when I finally realized I also would receive only one gift, I had doubts about how great it was.

The year of plastic is one that seems to rear it’s ugly little head every few years or so. It is usually followed by a Hard Candy Christmas. A week before Thanksgiving, every credit card company is offering the lowest rates. They told me that I was a valued client. They made me sign on the dotted line. They reeled me in and at the moment I thought the card couldn’t have come at a better time. So every gift I purchased, I was buying now and paying later. I walked out of the mall with bags up each arm, barely able to open the car door but my wallet was as full as when I first got there. Minus the cost of the yummy Mint Chocolate Dippin' Dots I ate while shopping. I thought the year of plastic was a wonderful concept, until mid-January that is.

When each family member had children of their own, the year of the kid came into play. It was the beginning of an era. Everyone only bought for the kids. Every kid got everything they ever imagined. Spoiled little bastids! Us adults, however, had to rely solely on our significant other if we were to get any gifts. Does the song, “I’m Gettin’ Nothin’ For Christmas” ring a bell to anyone?