I realize that it is still over two months until Yule/Christmas but a trip into the city this weekend to look for a winter coat got me started thinking about shopping and how it used to be when the family was still young.

Christmas shopping has changed a lot since the days when I’d start my holiday shopping by standing with a mob of people in front of The Mall at 2:00 A.M on Black Friday. I’d brave the blowing snow and the 4 inches already on the ground waiting for the doors to open at 5:30 A.M. Frost bite and the chance of being trampled or seriously injured just to grab a bargain was something I looked forward to every year. I’d shop all day and arrive home long after dark with my trunk full of deals to find my Hubby curled up on the couch asleep.

Every year I’d hold a death ritual for my sanity and easy going manner the week before
Thanksgiving. My claws and my fangs would come out and I’d bully everyone in my household
into helping get ready for a glorious family holiday. I’d scrub everything from top to bottom,
change curtains and linens, bring out the Holiday decorations and start baking. I’d address
cards until my fingers bled and then throw my shoulder out of place patting myself on the back
for being such a thoughtful and caring person.
Thanksgiving morning as soon as I put the turkey in the oven I’d pull my Santa cap over my
head to hide my horns and pop a couple of Valium with my first cup of coffee. Before the guests
arrived I’d frantically begin putting the gifts I’d received last year from my loving family out on display. Hubby, having picked up the tree and pulled the decorations out of the attic the day before, was in the den watching football, his part in the holiday hustle and bustle finished. By the time the tree was decorated after dinner and our guests were headed home, the ones who weren’t from out of town and staying until after Christmas, I was already mentally planning my first shopping trip of the season.

A few hours later I’d dress in the warmest and most comfortable clothes I owned and grab
my keys, the credit cards and a shopping list that drug the ground. In the freezing temperatures
of the winter morning I’d head out to do battle for that must have item of the season. A few
scratches or a black eye from an elbow was a small price to pay to see the love in my children’s
eyes on Christmas when they received that perfect gift. It also worked as a badge of honor and
served notice to all other shoppers that you wouldn’t hesitate to fight to get what you wanted.
I never had to worry about gaining weight over the Holidays like some people. Between
running from one end of town to another looking for just the right items and spending hours
and hours shopping and standing in lines or walking 2 miles from the parking space I finally
managed to snag from some grey haired old lady with a walker, I managed to burn enough
calories and miss enough meals to stay slim and trim. Besides, there was that dress hubby had bought me. It was just a little too tight but I had to have it so I needed to lose a little weight anyway and my darling Hubby would think I looked great in his gift come New Year’s Eve.
Shopping the tried and true way also offered me great opportunities to hone my persuasive
abilities. Between dealing with annoying sales people and pushy shoppers who’d insist they
were in line but just had to pick up one quick thing so I should let them back in front of me or
that I just had to let them have the last Transformer on the shelf because their son was very
sick and that was the only thing he had asked for. I became quite adept at ‘telling people
where to put Rudolph’s antlers.’

Those boring moments of curling up with a book and a glass of wine in front of the fireplace
were forgotten while I spent every waking moment that I wasn’t actually shopping trying to
assure my family and friends had a wonderful holiday. If I wasn’t pricking my fingers trying to finish an alter cloth or athame for a Coven Sister or burning myself with a glue gun adding a handmade embellishment to that special package, I was helping the kids finish up their Christmas projects for Grandma and Grandpa. In between I managed to make it to school plays, concerts, rituals and gatherings, and parties and also ran a taxi service for the kids.
It just wouldn’t have seemed like Christmas without the migraines, sore feet, and knowledge
that at least 25% of the things I went to such trouble to attain for those on my list would either
be duplicated by someone else or already damaged when they opened the box, and who
didn’t look forward to the after Christmas sales and returns. I got to do it all over again.
However, with the growing popularity of the internet, I have changed my way of shopping. I
no longer risk life and limb to find the perfect gift for someone. Even the most finicky person on
my list can receive exactly what she wants simply by posting a ‘wish list ‘on her face book
and with no duplication since the web page deletes your choice automatically without
letting anyone know who chose it. I research prices, purchase my merchandise and even
arrange to have it gift wrapped and sent to someone if necessary, all in less time than it would
take me to drive to the department store.
I don’t have to start working on Christmas projects in June since I can purchase gorgeous
handmade items for gifts and decorating online. A crystal for a Sister Witch or a sari made in
India can be found in no time at all. I can find recipes, decorating ideas, and complete dinner
plans, as well as someone to cook for me.

Now I pick and choose my outings a little differently. A drive to see the Christmas lights has replaced driving to and from malls. The only line I stand in is the one to see Santa with my Grandkids and if I’m driving home at midnight it’s from a party or Ritual not the mall after an exhausting day of shopping, I’ve mellowed some since my Black Friday days, I enjoy sitting in front of an open fire with a glass of wine and a good book and I can use all that extra time to write letters, call family and above all count my blessings for the holiday.



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