Charity should begin at home, but should not stay there. ~ Philip Brooks
You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. ~ Anonymous
A good laugh is sunshine in the house. ~ William Makepeace Thackeray
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~ Al Jones ~
I don’t know where the time has gone, but I find myself in a bit of a panic. With five weeks left on the calendar until Christmas, I’m dreading having to aimlessly wander stores in search of the perfect gift. As many of our readers already know, I am the world’s worst shopper.
It’s not that I’m tight with spending; I don’t mind opening my wallet. Besides, even if I was short on cash, that wouldn’t stop me from making purchases. Gone are the days when I had to worry about running out of money before my shopping is done. That’s what credit is for. I can buy this year’s gifts with next year’s money.
What makes me the world’s worst shopper is the stress I put on myself. Because I don’t like shopping, I tend to procrastinate. It’s not unusual for me to wait until the final week before Christmas to actually go shopping. I’ve even been known to still be shopping on Christmas Eve. Of course, selection is reduced and many of the gifts I’d thought of are now sold out. This leaves me desperately looking for inspiration for another perfect gift idea. Shopkeepers try their best to alleviate my stress. “Is there something particular you’re looking for?” they’ll ask. I, of course, have absolutely no idea what I’m looking for and answer sheepishly, “No, thanks. Just looking.”
There’s always that one relative that you know will be difficult. You can just tell they are not impressed when upon opening their gift. They say things like, “Thanks… What an unusual and unique gift. I didn’t even know you could buy monogrammed sweater vests in paisley.” There’s also the odd year when you have perhaps had a falling out with someone. You want to make sure you get them something perfect so as to hopefully make them forget the past with a present. (Yeah… I know that’s a groaner).
If you have younger children, you can multiply the stress tenfold. They have, no doubt, asked Santa for the same toy that every other kid in the world has asked for, and it’s your job, as Santa’s helper, to go out and seek this unobtainable toy. If you start your Christmas shopping early, you will probably be held in high regard by your peers as a great parent and a savvy shopper. However, if you are a procrastinator, such as myself, you will hear whispers behind your back, “Why did he wait so long? Of course they’re sold out. Doesn’t he know that it’s the most sought after toy this Christmas?”
By the way, folks, here’s a little helpful tip. Always, always, always buy lots of batteries in all different sizes. There is nothing worse than going through the hardship and expense of actually getting them something they want, but they can’t play with it. Always remember the three phrases that sum up Christmas. They are: Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All, and Batteries not included.
Now that my children are all grown up, I have it a little easier when it comes to shopping for them. They are a lot more practical and tend to ask for things they need instead of things that they want. This is where I shine now. Just about every store, restaurant, hair salon, and spa sells gift cards or gift certificates. This is a blessing for guys like me. Heck, you can even get gift certificates for car detailing, groceries and even music. Gift cards are a great invention. They fulfill my obligation to buy them something, but they have to deal with all the aimless wandering to find the perfect gift for themselves.
I’m going to promise myself the same thing I promise myself every year. I’m going to make an effort to have all of my shopping done by the fifteenth of December. Maybe I’ll start off this Friday with MoonLight Madness in Airdrie. Lots of stores will be open later, and participating businesses are heavily discounting merchandise to kick off the holiday season. (Look through some of the ads in this week’s Scoop). Wish me luck, folks, I’m gonna need it!
One last thought: Christmas is a time when kids tell Santa what they want and adults pay for it. It balances out, though. Government deficits are when adults tell the government what they want and our kids pay for it.