Let me make something clear before anyone gets their tailfeathers in a frazzle about Holiday Shopping. I am not politically correct. I celebrate multiple holidays at this time of year, hence, it’s Holiday Shopping. When I greet someone of the Christian persuasion at this time of year … or even someone of the Christmas persuasion, as evidenced by the red Santa holiday shirt and flashing Rudy earrings … I say, Merry Christmas. When it is someone I know is Jewish, I say, Happy Hanukkah. If I am in unknown territory or, as they say, mixed company, I say, Happy Holidays.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about shopping. One of the ways in which my Y chromosome is deficient (other than a fondness for flowers, art and theater) is that I do not have the usual male abhorrence of shopping. Au contraire, in fact, I often enjoy it. I know the way around the local malls better than my wife, Muri, and she sometimes brings me along because I’m good at rummaging through disorganized department stores to find something she’s looking for. Consequently, while many men shudder at the thought of Holiday Shopping, it is very much part of my enjoyment of the season. In fact, it is a tradition of mine to go out on Christmas Eve to find a few last minute gifts. I love being in the hustle and bustle with no pressure on to find anything. I try to be the most cheerful shopper in the stores and everyone, even the Grinchiest shopper or most inattentive salesperson, gets a smile or a Merry Christmas. The entire time, of course, my Inner Curmudgeon is grumbling in the basement, where I lock him at this time of year.
That’s not to say I love it all. Let’s start with the parking lots. I’m no biblical scholar but I don’t remember the phrase, Peace on Earth Goodwill Toward Men Except in Parking Lots. There must be a commandment I don’t know about that says, Thou Shalt Pull Up Right Behind Anyone Coming In or Out of a Parking Place So They Knowest Thou Are in a Hurry. And, Thou Shalt Sit in Thy Car Texting With Thy Backup Lights On Before Leaving Thy Parking Place. How about Thou Shalt Celebrate Jesus’ Birth Day by driving at Freeway Speeds in Parking Lots? Walking through parking lots, my Inner Curmudgeon rattles the door to his cell and shouts out things he thinks I should say (Merry *&%3 Christmas to you, for example). For those of you that are fans of my Inner Curmudgeon, don’t fret … it is a very nice cell with flat screen TV and a fully stocked bar. He’s fine. Other things I don’t love: salespeople who follow me around showing me items after I’ve said, I’ll let you know when I find something for the third time; Couples who park someone in two lines, then switch depending on who gets served first; and Line cutters of any sort. Then there are those who park their cart and themselves in the middle of a busy aisle to look at something on a nearby rack or display case … these days, they might be texting, too. Have you noticed that it’s almost always a woman? Or that the more attractive the woman thinks she is, the more likely she is to be an aisle blocker? In honor of the season, however, all the above are spared from the comments my Inner Curmudgeon might force through my clenched teeth at other times of the year.
So, after all that, what’s left to love? Well, I love the sparkle of the decorations and the Christmas Carols playing in the background. I’m inclined to whistle along, which probably annoys some people but elicits smiles from others. Children are especially adorable at this time of year and their parents seem to enjoy them more, too. Little girls can be so cute in their Christmas outfits and frequently their Moms are, too. I take particular joy in cheering up someone who seems to have temporarily lost the spirit of the season. Today, I was in Costco looking at jewelery at a roadshow booth. The woman behind the counter asked if she could help me, but her heart didn’t seem in it. It turns out the Costco folks had broken the lights in her display cases. Let it go, I said. Your stuff still looks nice and you’ll just ruin your day stewing about it. You’re right, I’ll try, she said, as she sent me off with a Merry Christmas. It’s amazing how people brighten if I take the time to smile and wish them a Happy Holiday, and even if they don’t, I feel better. What I love most, though, is finding that perfect gift, whether it’s a surprise for Muri or a Stocking Stuffer for one of the grandkids.
There is, however, a price to pay for all this Holiday good will. By the time I let my Inner Curmudgeon out in early January, he’s pissed. Cut in front of me at Costco on January 4th and you might hear, Excuse me. What makes you think you’re more important than I am? Or, if you get in the Express – Five Items or Less lane with eight items, I might ask you, Do you know what an Expresshole is? It’s someone who gets in the Express Line with more than five items. Still, it’s worth the price to enjoy my Holiday Shopping now.