Shopping rarely yields the perfect gift

I’m not one for shopping. I don’t care for browsing and I’m not one for simply trying on stuff for the sake of trying something on.

I’m not one for shopping. I don’t care for browsing and I’m not one for simply trying on stuff for the sake of trying something on.

Unlike my better half who tries on shoes, even though she has several good pairs at home, I don’t stop at a car lot to test drive a car because, afterall, I have a perfectly good one at home.

I’m probably like 90 per cent of the men out there when it comes to  shopping.

Hunting and gathering is in our DNA passed down from our caveman ancestors so most men make a beeline for what they need in the store, get it and get out.

That’s why Christmas has become a bit of a concern for men like me.

Don’t get me wrong, we love to bestow gifts on our loved ones, we cherish the generosity the season brings and enjoy spending time with family and friends.

It’s the shopping thing that really throws a curve into us.

This year it came really early for me when the Sears Christmas Wish Book landed on my doorstep in August.

I normally ignore it until I’m stuck with the annual riddle of buying presents for everyone on the “list.”

There was a time when Christmas shopping was a pleasant experience. Buying a gift for Mom and Dad with some hard-earned money was always one of the biggest treats at Christmas. Whether it was that dog-with-the-dangling-head ornament or a nice deck of cards, my parents would always smile ear-to-ear no matter what they received from their kids.

That was a time in my life when I loved to shop. There was also a brief period when buying for your kids was as much fun as playing with all their toys on Christmas Day.

But, as I age, I find those days are disappearing.

Nowadays finding the gift for another adult, except for a spouse, becomes harder and harder.

It seems everyone has everything they need and then some. You end up buying something simply for the sake of buying and presenting a gift to them on Christmas Day.

The love and thoughtfulness is always there behind the gesture but trying to find an item in the store that relays those emotions is impossible.

I’ve heard it too many times already this season, “What do you get someone who has everything?”

It’s not meant as a slight to that person, it’s simply a realistic acknowledgement that most people have enough already and what they need, they probably purchased it at the time they needed it the most.

Which leaves me with that challenge of going into a big box store not even knowing what my goal is. And for most men, that’s probably the toughest part of Christmas. We need a destination, an end point and a result.

We wander, like nomads or those hunter-gatherer cavemen, picking up things and putting them down, staring ahead at the vastness without knowing where it leads.

We end up leaving the store without a purchase and it feels like a huge waste of time and energy.  Just like a caveman who returns to his cave after an unsuccessful hunt.

Of course there are many people who enjoy the challenge of shopping, finding the best price or going from store to store before they find exactly what they’re looking for.

Not me though. I need to get in, get out and get back to what Christmas is all about – being at home with family and friends, enjoying each other’s company and sharing all the great things that Christmas inspires.

The frantic consumer lead up to Christmas and the never-ending Boxing Day sales come and go. But once the gift wrapping is all cleaned up, the kids are playing with their new toys and you sit back and observe the scene, it doesn’t matter what you bought or what you got, it’s what was already there, right in front of you throughout the year, that you cherish the most.

So when you hear all the stories and read all the articles on how to survive Christmas, ignore most of them.

The object is not to “get through,” Christmas.

The object is not to “keep your sanity,” at this time of year.

The object is not to “postpone Christmas” to get better bargains on items.

It’s a sad statement on our society that those are topics that often come up.

I believe the object is to enjoy what it brings to your family (whatever your definition of family is) – those moments when everyone is together instead of drifting off into their isolated worlds of texting and television. That’s the real gift for me.

And I’m pleased to realize that it’s a gift I’ll never have to find in any store.


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