Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

Black Friday has Arrived

Black Friday (1940 film)

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So, did you wake up early this morning and hit the stores? Were you at Sears at 7am? How about Target or Macy’s at 4am? Kohl‘s at 3am? If not, then you obviously aren’t in the holiday spirit! What kind of Scrooge are you?

Personally, I avoid the malls from this point on.  The over-commercialization of what should be a wonderful holiday just make me cranky.  I do the majority of my in-store Christmas shopping in November and then have a fairly strict no mall policy from this point on. I end up doing the majority of my shopping in December online. It makes sense – most of my gifts go across country at this point, so I can have things shipped directly to them, saving me a trip to the post office later on this month.

I didn’t always used to feel this way. My family would get up and be there when the store opened (back when opening at 8am was really early!) I remember one year in particular when my dad was recovering from hip surgery. We took advantage of his disabled parking permit, wheeled him around the mall in his wheelchair, and piled our packages on him as we purchased our gifts! It was really kind of fun.

I think it was the Christmas in 2000 that I discovered the beauty of shopping on the Internet! I was hooked. What did I ever do before Amazon.com? It is by far my favorite shopping site. I can get books, music, and movies, sure, but I also get my dog supplies there, dishes for my household, and variety of other things. It’s amazing. And, with free shipping over $25, there’s no reason not to use them!

So as we descend into the shopping frenzy that is December, I avoid the malls, mute the commercials on TV, and try to find gifts for my family and friends that truly show how I feel about them. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

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Shopping – my archnemisis

This week, in honor of Black Friday I suppose, we’re talking about shopping. It’s very easy for me to sum up my feelings about shopping. I hate it. I hate the crowds, the rude salespeople and I hate parting with my money. I like my money, and I feel it is more at home in my wallet than a cold cash register. I’m also not one of those people who needs the latest fashions. I figure as long as I look good in what I have and everything matches, that’s all I really need. It’s great for extending the life of one’s wardrobe.

If I must go shopping, I try to do it when the stores first open, or towards closing time. I can’t stand going in the middle of the afternoon when everyone else is there. It’s ironic in a way. As a kid, I used to hate that my parents always insisted on getting up early to go to the stores. It all makes sense now.

I do seem to have some kind of shopping quota that must be fulfilled though. I tend to go for months not buying anything (except essentials like food and toiletries). Months. I can’t remember the last time I was in my local mall. However, my non-shopping seems to build to a breaking point, which leads to binge shopping. My binge shopping is relatively benign. It usually starts with getting an email or catalogue from one of my favorite stores advertising a great sale with free shipping. Here’s the crux – free shipping. I shop at very few stores and know what sizes I need. I hop online, stuff my virtual shopping bag/cart (with 3, maybe 4 items – I told you my binge shopping was benign), enter my shipping address and credit card information and wait patiently for my order to arrive. No traffic, no crowds, no salespeople, no cranky me.  I love online shopping so much, I even buy the K-cups for my Keurig coffeemaker online (http://www.bigcatcoffees.com/).

I do go to stores occasionally. I seem to have a particular weakness for Target. I think it’s because I can buy a whole bunch of stuff – accessories, makeup, house goods, etc. – without spending that much money. I also can go there late at night and not deal with the crowds. I’ve learned not to buy gifts there though – they have a pretty poor return policy.

Shopping is one of those things I really don’t derive much enjoyment from. I more view it as a necessary evil. Sometimes I wished I enjoyed it more and liked going clothes shopping and having the latest styles and whatnot. But after nearly 30 years, I don’t think my viewpoint on it is going to change. I take the band-aid approach to shopping- minimize the pain by getting it done as fast as possible.

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In Memoriam: Thanksgiving

Am I the only person that remembers the quaint holiday of Thanksgiving? You might recall that it’s the day most people have off from work between Halloween and Christmas. The one that doesn’t require presents or costumes?….Still doesn’t jog your memory? Ummm….it’s the day before Black Friday? Remember? …There it is! I knew you’d get it.

I feel increasingly bad for Thanksgiving (you may recall from a previous post that I have an issue with actualizing inanimate objects and concepts). Ever since people started stringing up lights and going all out in decorating for Halloween, Thanksgiving has increasingly gotten the shaft. I guess it just can’t compete with the costumes and candy of Halloween or the presents and lights of Christmas.

In my mind, Thanksgiving is the ideal holiday. It’s one of the few left that hasn’t been overly commercialized. You don’t have to worry about presents or spiffing up the house with decorations. You don’t have kids ringing your doorbell all night looking for candy. Unless you’re the one cooking the dinner, all you really have to do is show up somewhere, eat, drink and be merry. That sounds like a pretty good deal to me. Then there are the leftovers….pumpkin pie for breakfast, turkey sandwich for lunch and a second go around of turkey and all the fixings for dinner. Excellent.

I also think that Thanksgiving is a holiday where people are the most real. No one’s trying to fake that they really like that ugly sweater they just received and no one feels forced to go to a religious service. Thanksgiving gives us a time to relax with one another, catch up, maybe watch some football or play a pickup game. In any case, of all the holidays, I think Thanksgiving is most about togetherness (yes, I’m sure many of you have Thanksgiving horror stories and I’m probably being overly simplistic and naïve, but I’m feeling sentimental and warm-hearted toward Thanksgiving right now so just work with me here).

Poor Thanksgiving. No one appreciates it anymore. Everyone is just rushing to get to Christmas. I’ve even heard some stores (Sears, I think?) that will be open on Thanksgiving Day. Really? Is it too much to ask to have one day where Christmas and the need to shop and buy the perfect gift is not shoved down our throats? Well I am not jumping on that bandwagon! I plan to give Thanksgiving its proper due. Until the day after Thanksgiving, I will scoff at people who already have their houses decorated for Christmas; scowl at the Macy’s Christmas windows and tree on my way to work; mute the TV commercials advertising Christmas specials; and shake my fist at those festive red Starbucks cups. After Thanksgiving, I’ll be as jolly as a fat elf drunk on eggnog, but not a moment before. Long Live Thanksgiving!