Ah, the holiday shopping season is upon us with all of its shiny, sparkly, costly delirium.
Every year, more people discover the convenience of online shopping. For the most part, I’ve avoided it. I’m one of those silly people who enjoys Christmas shopping the old-fashioned way.
I like the decorations and holiday music in the stores. I like seeing people juggling armloads of bags and boxes. I love watching someone find the perfect gift for that hard-to-buy for relative, or discovering a great sale on something they thought they couldn’t afford. I don’t even mind the crowds this time of year. That’s the way it was when I was a kid, and I’m unapologetic when I say, I miss the festive atmosphere and the shared experience with other shoppers.
One year, my mother and I went shopping in downtown Flint. We had dinner in the mezzanine at Woolworth, which was the thing to do back then, and wandered through stores like Smith Bridgeman and Montgomery Ward.
What I recall most is the cozy feeling that washed over me as we strolled along the sidewalks and watched the snow gently falling in the streetlights. It was like being in a Christmas card.
Over time, Christmas shopping became more of a challenge. As a young mother with three children, I went to great lengths to spend the same amount of money on the same number of gifts. And, if one received a very large gift, I had to find a large gift for the other two, as well. I accepted the challenge happily, and felt a great sense of accomplishment when I succeeded.
These days, my kids just want cash. I welcome the simplicity of that. However, I also have grandchildren. I still try to spend the same amount and get them at least some of the gifts on their wish lists. Last year, on Christmas Eve, I needed one gift for one of my grandsons. I was stumped. I was tired. I was almost broke and hungry and getting a headache.
So, when I saw an eight-pack of flavored hot sauces, I went for it. I thought it was a dumb gift for an 11-year-old, even though he’s a hot sauce connoisseur. I mean, it’s the kind of gift you get for the random co-worker you don’t know well but whose name you drew in the Secret Santa.
My grandson seemed a bit befuddled when he opened that gift, and I was a little embarrassed. I figured it was the worst gift I’d ever given. It has haunted me.
Today, my grandson called me.
“Do you remember last year when you got me all that hot sauce?” he asked. “Can you get me that again?”
I was stunned. Was he serious? Did he not think it was so far up the “stupid gift” scale that it was even more stupid than a bow tie?
“That was a great gift,” he said. “It was like, you get me.”
Oh, my heart. He gets me, too.
Lania Rocha is a reporter for the Genesee County View. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.