I am, quite possibly, the world’s worst shopper. I know what you’re thinking, “But you’re a woman! Women love shopping! They live for it! Sometimes my wife/mother/sister/aunt will go to the mall and be there for hours and come home with nothing!” Not me. I would rather give myself 4,000 paper cuts with store receipts.
Most of the year, this lack-of-shopping-desire is easy to live with. I have learned there is a distinct difference between shopping and buying. I do not shop, I buy. If our socks start having too many holes, I don’t waltz carelessly though the stores, perusing the various styles and prices. I make a beeline for the sock department, find the one that’s on sale, and leave.
But during the Christmas season, this shopping thing is nearly inevitable and it looms over my head like a dark cloud. While some people delight in the opportunity to find good sales and embrace the commercial aspect of the holiday, I start breaking into a sweat in early December. For each person on my list have to go through a bit of a checklist:
1. What does this person enjoy?
2. Does this person need something?
3. If this person needed it, why wouldn’t they buy it themselves and get the color they want?
4. What IS this person’s favorite color?
5. Can I buy this online while shopping in my pajamas?
6. How can anyone really charge for shipping these days?!?
7. Is worth avoiding parking lots and check out lines that bring out that nervous twitch in my right eye?
8. Add to cart.
I must say that the invention of online shopping has made the shopping half of gift giving easier, but the cumbersome act of returning more than makes up for it. The printing, the packaging, the mailing. Not that standing in the return line in a store on December 26th is all that much better, or that I would know because I would rather spend all day wearing holy socks than doing that.
And yet, despite all of the hassle and trouble and the unnecessary worry I put myself through, I do it anyway. I always do. Because I so very much enjoy giving gifts to people I care about. It’s almost like I have a second syndrome, love-to-give. During this season, despite my grinchy shopping personality, this love-to-give thing takes over and suddenly I find myself wanting to give presents to everyone I know. Because as much as it is a pain to shop, it’s worth it to give something to someone you care about, or even if you just want to show them thanks for that little bit they do to make your world a better place.
And so I shop, often begrudgingly, because of love.
(But not a love of shopping.)
Originally written 11.29.15