I’ve always found holiday shopping to be stressful. In fact, even grocery shopping revs me up and makes me impatient.
But the holiday crowds amplify the stress. Noise. Rushing. Parking lots are packed.
Too many customers, not enough cashiers. Rushing from store to store weighed down by bags, boxes, gifts, decorations…
Stores jammed to the ceiling with millions of items. How can I find what I’m looking for among the overwhelming clutter?
The store greeter always sends me the wrong way. Soon, everything blurs into one endless aisle of ‘stuff.’
The stores are stuffed with stuff.
Now our house is now stuffed with stuff.
Despite a dozen purges, the basement is stacked with boxes of stuff. We’ve donated hundreds of books to the library system yet still have 7 big book cases jammed with more.
My brain, like the shelves in our house, and the shelves in every shop, is ‘full.’
“What would you like for Christmas?”
So, with our budget tight and our house crammed, my wife and I agreed to forgo exchanging Christmas gifts this year.
However we soon found ourselves missing the swirl and bustle of holiday shopping.
Since we’re still buying gifts for the kids, nephews, nieces, and their wee ones, Ava and I went to the mall with ‘zero pressure.’
No rushing. No deadline.
Unlike the frantic shopping I did when the kids were younger, rushing past mountains of merchandise in a desperate hunt for the latest “Cabbage Patch, Beanie Baby, Game Boy, Tickle Me Elmo, Nintendo, Barbie, Ninja Turtle everyone in my class is getting one,” craze.
“My God, look at all the cars!”
Rather than waste 20 minutes circling around trying to find parking near the mall and thus avoid walking an extra 2 minutes, we parked at the far corner of the lot, where there were plenty of spaces.
Bonus: we got 300 extra steps on my Step Counter. (My goal is 10,000 a day)
Then we meandered around, strolling hand-in-hand, window shopping.
Let me be clear: this is not like me. I power-shop. Because I hate shopping.
Ava can spend hours shopping. I’m in an out of a store like it’s full of plague germs. It’s like The Hunger Games with a credit card.
If there’s a line up at the cash, I don’t even bother, “I’m sure other stores will be selling rowing machines.”
Now and then we went off ‘sight-seeing’ alone. While Ava looked at winter coats, I disappeared into the hobby shop.
When she checked out Yoga wear I was back to the hobby shop. When she was at the health food outlet I was at the toy store.
We met up in the book store and snapped photos of a few titles we want. (My kids appreciate suggestions. And yes, we’ll probably need yet another bookshelf.)
We Enjoyed The Show
Increasingly over the past decade, as the holidays approach, and we ask each other, “What are you craving or needing?” our answer has been, “I don’t know. Nothing really. Peace and calm. Time together.”
Who knew we could find it at the mall?
Strolling around, exploring whatever drew our attention, was wonderful.
It reminded me of traveling alone through Europe, a tourist passing through, taking in the sites. While the locals rushed about living their busy lives, I wandered along, taking it all in.
The mall, swirling with people, color, music and voices turned into a sort of ‘Winter Wonderland,” or perhaps a “Santa Claus Parade” where we moved, the ‘floats’ were stationary shops.
Stopping for gourmet French Fries after an hour helped keep our strength up.
And several fancy chocolate shops sustained us when one of us felt tempted, studying a particularly fancy new gadget, “This is interesting. We could probably use one of these…”
We had fun. So much so that we hit a different mall on another evening!
No Goal, No Destination, No Pressure
A leisurely walk in a busy mall is not exactly socializing, but being out among people is good for me, because I can easily turn into a hermit and avoid leaving the house at all.
So, if you’re finding yourself stressed about shopping, or if online shopping is fast but leaves you lacking ‘holiday spirit,’ consider visiting shops as if you were a tourist, taking in the sites and sounds and energy.
Watching people rush around, seeing kids wide-eyed on Santa’s lap, and humming along to the Christmas carols was fun.
We’re definitely going out again this week to explore yet another another mall. It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small, as long as there’s a place that sells gourmet French Fries.
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