Christmas shopping is no longer the adventure and delight it was in my youth. The excitement of seeing the wonderland of glittering Christmas decorations in the department stores after Thanksgiving is gone, mainly because they are already on display when I shop for Halloween candy. I don’t get to enjoy Halloween or Thanksgiving first. The retailers want to rush me by those holidays and propel me straight to Christmas as soon as possible so they can get their hands on my money before I spend it on something inconsequential, such as the mortgage on my house
I do not care for giving the day after Thanksgiving such a downbeat name as Black Friday. I think Black Friday would be more appropriate in October at Halloween.
The first time I heard the phrase, I thought a disaster of major proportions occurred on that day in the past—for example, an extinction-level volcanic eruption such as Krakatoa or a stock market crash. A salesclerk patiently explained to the clueless that it was just the opposite of disaster: merchants coined the name because it is the biggest sales day of the year for them and is so lucrative it is the day that puts retail stores “in the black” [ink, that is]. Charming. Maybe it’s just me, but Thanksgiving and Black Friday are like oil and water. On the fourth Thursday in November, we gather our families together to be cheerful and thankful for our blessings, and then the day afterward is (gasp) Black Friday when many of us shop till we drop. Occasionally, some shoppers literally drop other shoppers who stand between them and one of a store’s few door-buster sales items. Perhaps Feeding Frenzy Friday would be a more descriptive name than Black Friday.
I’ve been shopping online for the past several years. The phrase Cyber Monday sounds more upbeat and benign than Black Friday, doesn’t it? It’s much more convenient and less of a hassle to go from one website to another than it is to drive from one brick and mortar store to another and hunt for non-existent parking spaces before one even gets to shop at all. When I shop online, I don’t have to camp out the night before in front of a store in the November frigid cold. I can shop when I choose on my computer, and I can shop in my pajamas while savoring a cup of hot chocolate with mini marshmallows. No one ever tackles me or tries to rip a bargain from my grasp while I’m shopping on my computer in my pajamas while savoring a cup of hot chocolate with mini marshmallows.
I’m a grandparent now. I take time out from being a Christmas Curmudgeon to enjoy going with my grandchildren and their parents to the children’s Christmas Eve mass, and I enjoy giving gifts to my grandchildren at Christmas and seeing their faces light up as mine once did at their ages. Those things are still meaningful and fun for me.
In addition to buying gifts for my grandchildren and close friends, I choose a tag each year from my church’s Christmas Giving Tree to provide a gift for an anonymous person, child or family in need. It rekindles my Christmas spirit, and it just plain makes me feel good to make a deserving person’s Christmas a bit merrier. 🙂
I no longer write a Christmas newsletter to send to everyone I know. [They’re probably grateful for that and who can blame them. Seriously.] I don’t mail out Christmas cards anymore. I send electronic Christmas greeting cards nowadays. They’re different, I like them, and my friends and family members say they are fun to receive. [The US Postal Service is undoubtedly unhappy about that. Well, they’re the ones who keep raising the price of stamps.]
Macho Guy used to be a Christmas decorating fanatic. Since he and I now spend our Christmases with our sons and their families in their homes, the Christmas decorations around here have been toned down considerably. We don’t hang wreaths. We don’t hang stockings. We don’t hang Christmas lights from the eaves. Our only decoration right now is a small artificial tree that we have on display in the living room. For years, we took that tree down from the attic, put it together, decorated it, and then reversed gears after Christmas. Finally, we decided to leave it decorated, cover it with a sheet, store it under the stairway to the lower level, and take it out each year in December. All we need to do is uncover it, put the Angel on top, and we’re done decorating. Spending Christmas with the kids and grandkids at their homes comes with an added bonus. Our grown children and their spouses do all the work. Macho Guy and I just show up with gifts and great big smiles on our faces and play with our grandchildren.
My Christmas season is fairly low key. However, I do make a few exceptions. For the past few years, I’ve been having fun on my computer counting down the days to Christmas with Jacquie Lawson’s animated advent calendar. Every December before Christmas, Macho Guy and I go with friends to quaint little Frankenmuth, Michigan for dinner, a bit of Christmas shopping in the quaint little shops, and to enjoy all the fabulous outdoor Christmas decorations and Christmas lights there. We attend several Christmas parties annually and make merry. We attend Christmas mass to hear again the Good News of Christ’s birth and take in the beauty of the almost-large-as-life manger on the altar. I watch my parents’ favorite uplifting Christmas movies every year without fail: It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Miracle on 34th Street (the 1947 classic version), and Scrooge (the 1951 British version of A Christmas Carol starring Alistair Sim—the best Scrooge ever). Viewing those films takes me back to the Christmases of my childhood. I confess that Scrooge is my favorite guilty Christmas pleasure. It never fails to bring me to tears.
Oh, dear. I just reread what I’ve written and I am amazed to realize that I am not the complete Christmas Curmudgeon I believed myself to be. It appears that I do not entirely dislike the Christmas season. I have found different ways to enjoy it in the present than the ways I enjoyed it in the past. I am not a curmudgeonly Scroogette after all—but you never heard that from me. I have a certain image to protect.