Monday, November 22, 2010

Holiday Shopping: A Nightmare Bathed in Ribbon and Tinsel


Christmas is fast approaching, and with the eggnog and carols and lights and cabbage rolls(all things magical and wonderful!) comes something far less pleasant - rampant consumerism. It's the one time of year that even those of us who aren't defined the by the brands our clothes are (or aren't, in most cases), who don't live to shop, or find need to waste their hard-earned cash on over-priced items to lull them in to a false sense of ... who knows, find themselves dropping too much money on stuff for friends and family... stuff these loved ones probably won't even enjoy.

I am guilty of this, too. I end up spending on gifts about 75% of what I make in a month, but I also have to  pay rent, power, heating, and phone bills, plus buy cat food and groceries... so you do the terrifying math. This year, the government decided to re-evaluate my taxes at the end of November (thanks, you heartless bastards!) and slap me with two weeks to pay them what equates to a small fortune to me, so I may NOT be shopping, as keeping a roof over my head has taken priority. I support myself, thankyouverymuch, and will need every penny. Don't get me wrong; giving is fantastic and leaves you feeling happy, and everyone will be getting gifts from Santa Brittani (Brittani Claus?) despite my financial woes, they're just likely to be handmade (and delicious!).

This has actually come as a HUGE RELIEF, as shopping makes me want to punch kittens. I like kittens more than I like people, so this is a very serious statement, obvs. I grocery shop as infrequently as possible. Crowds make me really, really nervous. People who walk slowly bring me close to violence, as walking is my main form of transportation, and therefore I am very used to walking, and do so constantly as if I am on a mission. Combine too many people with the speed of a Sunday driver (and I've mentioned most of this before, I know, but deal with it), and you get a day-to-day nightmare at the stores.

Factor in Christmas... and I'm ready to hibernate til January... but then I'd miss my birthday right after Christmas, and I use my birthday money to pay bills, so I have to suck it up and face the season.

Even if I end up making and baking the gifts for those on my list this year, I'm still going to have to venture out and pick up supplies to aid me on my Crafting Odyssey. Not this week, but maybe the next, I'll head to the stores, hold my breath, and hope I don't flip out and hit someone in the fucking face. This time would be easier if people would just

  • get in and get the fuck out. I realize that you want to carefully choose your purchases, but in all honesty, if you don't have a list of what you need and are just there to browse, can you at least do it really early in the morning, or after midnight (24-hour WalMart will be starting soon!), when there are fewer people around? And if you aren't 100% sure what you've gone to the store for, I'm fairly confident that you don't, in fact, need a cart. When you stop to stare at whatever ridiculous trinket has caught your eye, and you pick it up to delicately examine it, slowly taking in each cheap, tacky detail - you are blocking the aisle. Like, really badly blocking the aisle. Sometimes, these people aren't even just taking up half of the aisle by standing there with their cart politely tucked in vertically - but with the damn thing across the aisle. Lady, I literally couldn't get by if my life depended on it, what the tits is wrong with you?
  • dig their money/debit/credit card/gift card/coupons/whatever out of their wallets or purses BEFORE the cashier has rung everything through and given your total. We've been in line for, oh, about 30 minutes, according to the last time I checked my watch. And now you're taking your good ol' time searching for your cash, and don't you dare start counting out your pennies!!! Everyone behind you hates you. And it ain't right to be hating at Christmas, stop ruining our "spirit", asshole.
  • STOP bringing small children... okay, I used to really, really love kids. And I still love babies, I really do. But in the last year, I've noticed that children get to a certain age where a) they know right from wrong and b) know how to behave. There are some beautifully polite, well-behaved preschool-aged kids, and some even younger. I know a 3-year-old who comes in to my store and is quiet, and doesn't run around, and is just awesome. Unfortunately, this reflects about 10% of the kid-population, and the other 90% are being dragged to stores with their parents, only to run around, get lost in the crowds, get under your feet, cry when you almost run them over with a cart (that they ran in front of, out of nowhere), and scream, scream, scream, scream. Please, get a babysitter. If you can't... just fucking wait til they're asleep and strap them in the cart.
  • NOT have a reunion with a long-lost friend in the middle of the grocery store or Wal-Mart. Oh dear, sweet, tiny Jesus (HBD, buddy), why are you doing this? I get that you haven't seen so-and-so in five years, and you want to know how Whatshisname's wife is doing, and oh goodness? You spawned! Is that what this joyous ball of screaming adrenaline demanding "CANDY!!!" is?  ... I may understand, but I also DON'T CARE. Christmas is the absolute worst time for these kinds of meetings, and people don't seem to care that they're blocking the aisles, or the wrapping paper, or the milk, or the ammunition counter... though maybe that one is for the better...
  • realize that while I am all for efficiency and am one of the fastest-moving people you're apt to find in any store, THERE IS NO NEED TO RUN ME OVER (or anyone else, for that matter). Some people literally just push and shove you out of the way, or ram into your cart with their own... intentionally! Now, I may be as misanthropic as they come, but I would never in a million years intentionally maim someone who's done nothing wrong. But holiday shoppers are their own special, horrifying breed.
  • also realize that I'm really, truly, terribly sorry, but I would not like to donate a dollar to this or buy a sticker for that or support cause #35346346567. I AM NOT A BAD PERSON BECAUSE OF THIS! Get back to me in January, when I'm not scraping every penny I have together so my family won't think I'm a cheapskate, and I will help your cause. Yes, this is the season for giving, but I just can't afford to. Stop looking at me like that!
  • if stores would stop playing the worst Christmas music known to mankind. I don't know what it is; oldschool Christmas tunes are awesome (think Holly Jolly Christmas) and there's some newer stuff I love, and some songs from movie soundtracks... it's really, really difficult to go wrong with holiday music, yet every store seems to be piping the musical equivalent of what happens when you ingest the poisonous poinsettia plant through their speakers. It's enough to drive you to drink.
I'm sure there are some things I missed, but overall, I think that's a pretty comprehensive overview of why shopping is a bigger nightmare than usual this time of year. Writing it has filled me with dread, and were it not for shipping constraints - you can bet your ass I'd be doing every last bit of my shopping online!

I realize the last thing this post was full of is holiday cheer, but I promise a happy, upbeat Christmassy post next week, with the list of my top Christmas movies, tv specials, and tunes!

You're all great.

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