Friday, November 30, 2018

I Miss Christmas Shopping

Even though I used to have my Christmas shopping completed by September (yes, I planned ahead), I miss actually shopping for presents. Throughout the year, if I saw something and it reminded me of a friend or family member, I bought it and put it away for the holidays.
Wherever we traveled during the year, I looked for Christmas ornaments. Often, what I found weren’t originally intended to be used as ornaments, but when I added hooks and bows, keychains and other items became decorations. I got them each year for our daughter, godchild, and the nieces and nephews. These became expected. The kids looked forward to seeing where each year’s ornament came from.

I continue this tradition, but now for the great-nieces and nephews. Last April we were in Paris. We visited St. Chapelle, and I saw some great, fun gargoyle keychains—just the thing for the little boys in our lives. So, I have this year’s ornaments. Shh, please don’t tell. These are about the only gifts I still buy these days.

The family has spread to other states, and we don’t all get together during the holidays. These days, it’s easier to send a gift card the whole family can use for something special. We usually send a card, a copy of our latest book(s), and the ornaments.

Last year, we gave charitable gifts in the other family members’ names. We felt as though we were doing something positive, but it wasn’t the same as receiving a surprise gift.

This year, Kim isn’t coming for Christmas. She just started a new job and doesn’t have any vacation time accrued. We’ll really miss her.

When she was little, she had a clothing budget—a limit on how much we’d spend on her clothes. She got to make the decisions about what to buy, but when she reached the limit, she didn’t get anything else until the next period. The exception was during the holidays.

Usually, one day during her visit, I announce, “I feel like shopping.” What this means is we would go shopping, and I’d buy her something—or maybe more than one. However, we always pretended it was a spontaneous decision, even though we did it nearly every year. It is one of our favorite rituals, and I’ll miss it this year.

From the time we lived in Osaka, I have done most of my shopping online. I can compare prices and have everything delivered to my door or drop-shipped directly to the recipient. I have little or no need to go to a mall or department store during the holidays. I have always avoided the crowds, but I loved seeing the decorations.

I used to spend hours wrapping gifts, too. I usually picked a “theme” or “look” each year, and wrapped all the gifts alike. In the past few years, I have used gift bags. They are reusable with less waste. From a green standpoint, they make more sense, but I confess, I miss seeing the pile of wrapped gifts under the tree.

Change is the only constant. Some changes I like, and others are harder to adjust to. I wouldn’t want to go backwards, but a part of me still misses some things from the past.

Are there any traditions you no longer observe? Do you miss them?


  1. Like you, I once shopped all year--of course with 5 kids it was necessary. I continued even after they all grew up. But now our family has expanded so, I have cut way back--I give money to my four living adult kids, and this year for the first time, we drew names for those who come to our house on Christmas Eve.

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