Sunday, December 09, 2007

what's the reason?

The other day, I was in a large department store searching. Up and down the aisles I roamed like an anchorless raft not knowing what it was I was really looking for, hoping that if I saw it I would know immediately that it was "IT." Jealous I was of the steel focused shopper with a overflowing cart of goods and a completely crossed off list on their way to the check out line up where hoardes of other shoppers stood like cows to slaughter waiting to pay for their amazing finds!
How can they be so lucky to come into the flourescent store of endless aisles filled to the brim with enticing plastic do-dads, trinkets and dust collectors........with bells and whistles and gold glittery sweaters for the season......with wrappings for hungry eyes.........a mirage of glimmering generosity. Oh, and the joyful sound of the tin throated carol songs over the scratching sound system........just adds to the feeling of Christmas.


As soon as I spotted that red sign with the four letter words on it.... "EXIT" .......I headed in that direction, gasping for fresh air, feeling dizzy by the heat, sounds, lights, and utter anxiety emanating from frenzied shoppers waiting to deplete whatever they have left in their reserves. I couldn't stand that kind of shopping seemed completely void of anything resembling the meaning of Christmas..........or fun. Where was the fun and excitement of finding just the right gift?? GONE! As fast as the latest must have toy from the shelves.

I realize that we all do the best we can, and cope as best we can, but in all honesty, I can't understand the need to grab a cart and fill it up with things to match a person on the list No thought, no wondering of what the receiver of such gift may like or want.......just grab and go..........grab and go...........spend, spend, spend. Consumer madness is a plague of our generation, and for some reason, my aversion and disdain for it increases every year. It's not new, and unfortunately it can't be stopped with a simple flu shot. I think its here to stay...... I just don't want any part of it. I want the fun! I want the moment when it feels like you've struck gold! I want to shout out EUREKA, as my thoughts quickly head to.........."They are going to LOVE this!"

Now, I have to clarify something. I love nice things. I love decorating and making my home inviting and comfortable. I love aromatic candles and earrings that dangle and glimmer just right to enhance a new Christmas dress. I think I'm actually an easy person to buy something for because I love nice stuff. I have even been known to buy something absolutely frivolous simply because. How's that for a confession?

So, I'm not writing this from a trinket, doo-dad free zone. Heck, I've got a PeeWee Herman marionette doll sitting and smiling interesting thoughts in my kitchen. You have to be a doo-dad kind of person to welcome PeeWee Herman into your kitchen. (I have a movie poster too framed and hung above the stairs heading down to the basement ). But, you know what? When I look around at the loot that has accumulated around here.....the vases and shining goblets, the pottery, pictures, and baskets..........the books, books and more books.............I can honestly say that I know the who, what, and when to all of them, because they were purchased with some thought thrown into the mix. The marionette was THE BEST present I ever gave to my husband (apart from the two children I gave birth to). The poster of PeeWee on his bike? Apart from it being vintage now.......... was my favourite present on my 25th birthday.

I try to do the same.............what would I like to buy someone on my list? What would they just love? What can I make that they would enjoy having? And, man it's difficult for find the right gift......THE one. The pressure can be formidable especially in the last days of rushed madness. I have seen the deer caught in the headlight look of consumers. I have played the role of salesperson during the holiday season before. Christmas Eve was a remarkable eye-opener the year I worked in a gift shop. Bigger is better......that's the motto of the husband and boyfriend shoppers who swarmed the store. They didn't care one iota what the big gaudy life size jewelry box looked like......they couldn't give a hoot that it played Lara's theme ad nauseum on a little organ grinder mechanism inside the base. They just wanted something SO frigging big that it WOULDN'T fit under the tree!!

"Can you wrap this for me? I hate wrapping.....Put that big bow on it too......"

How utterly thoughtful.......... and hilarious at the same time. It made me wonder if the big trinket box was a substitute for..................... hmmmmmmmmmmm................. or if they thought something shiny would lead to something rewarding? It was all too weird to be the enabling salesperson in this scenario.

It is so easy to get swept up in the "must buy" regime........the Walmart wandering.......the Sears shuffling.......the Toys-R-Us tango. The pressure is palatably paranoid-like. The zombie like looks of consumers at this time of the shopping countdown reveals it's true colours. I guess the key is to be cognizant of this plague and to be aware of how it makes you feel. Then, its up to you to figure out how to deal with it. I opt for heading towards the EXIT sign.

Somewhere along the way, the true gift of the season needs to be tucked under that tree don't you think? You know, the one wrapped in it's own essence and fragrance of a miracle? It's the gift which helps us find our anchor and without it, what is the point of celebrating the birth of Jesus if He isn't even invited to the party?


Dustin said...


My wife and I have been going back and forth recently, as she loves this time of year with its decorating and gift giving. I'm more simplistic, wishing to simply spend time with the ones I love rather than search for meaningless gifts (not that that is what my wife does, but I think most people do). It's really a balance.

But, I do refuse to buy into the consumer mentality that says I have to buy this or that to be happy.

Tori said...

Wow I am so very glad you wrote this. I am so overwhelmed by the consumerism of the season. I really, really don't like shopping so this time of year feels particularly threatening. I haven't bought a single gift because frankly we really can't afford it and I don't want to buy just because that it what I am supposed to do. Thanks for reassuring me that I am ok.

Awareness said...

Dustin....I agree. It is a balance and its so difficult finding it at this time of year. Like your wife, I love buying presents and I love this time of year. I detest the pressure once December rolls around to buy, buy, buy. I find it very difficult too to find balance with my children, especially when they believed in Santa Claus. When they get to a point when they see the difference in how much someone else gets as opposed to another kid........what must they think??? Given that the message we adults is....."if you're good, Santa will bring what you ask for......" they must be a bit confused by it all.
And you my friend will SOON experience this!!

We do try to seek balance as a family by getting involved in some community service. Tomorrow, for example, we are helping at a downtown church with providing dinner and a party. My children may attend this with us....we also have decorated the soup kitchen over the past couple of years....lots of discussion happens after that activity.

Like you, I will continue to balk at the consumer mentality and try to maintain some balance around here. (though i do hope everyone goes OVERBOARD for me!!) :)

Tori.....YOu are more than OK. You're BEAUTIFUL!! The pressure is intense. I think we all feel it, and I think we all spend WAY more than we should or can.
ps. one day, you will have a bestseller on the NY Times list and won't EVER have to worry about the almighty dollar. :)

Gypsy said...

Shopping for Christmas gifts seems to either be a wonderful thing especially when I experience that "oh they're going to LOVE this" feeling as you said....OR.... it's something that spirals me into complete panic mode that I just cannot find a gift that would bring joy to anyone.

A feast or a famine....this year is turning into a famine I'm afraid. I haven't really been able to get myself into the spirit of the occasion until just this weekend so hopefully when I go out on Wednesday to start my shopping in earnest I will be more successful. If I get under a shady tree in the car park I know I will be set for a good shopping day. Me and my omens eh?

Awareness said...

Gypsy.....It does seem like a feast or famine thing.....the feast usually happens if I am open to possibilities...or if I'm not really looking. How weird is that? Luckily this year, I have had a couple of eureka moments which are good motivators. One of the presents we have for my son will be a great moment on Christmas morning when he opens it up.......can't say what it is. Who knows if he would stumble across the comments on my blog, but will keep you posted.

ps. May you find the shady parking spot and it is a fruitful as the last time you found one! :)

Menopauseprincess said...

Beautiful post Awareness. You have a lovely, descriptive writing style.

I love "the glittering mirage of generosity".

paris parfait said...

Amen, my friend, amen. My sentiments, exactly. xo