Some people dread holiday shopping: the crowds, the lists, the surly salespeople. Not me. I love the energy, the sales, the decorations, the cute things that I end up buying for myself. I probably shouldn't admit this but the season of giving usually results in the season of giving... to me. I have good intentions at the beginning of each season, I really do. I make my list, check it twice, the whole thing. And then... I enter the stores.
Last year I was shopping for my best friend in a department store, took a wrong turn and, as luck would have it, ended up in the shoe department. Funny how that happens. Anyway, there I was in my home away from home and it was packed. Now, before I finish the story, let me please point out that there is no reason for the shoe department to be packed during the holiday season. Who buys stilettos for the one they love? Clearly, I was not the only one who made the, ahem, wrong turn. In any case, the place was a zoo, there were bargains everywhere, "Jingle Bells" was blaring and then I heard those deadly words from a salesperson to a customer, "These are the last pair in a size 10." A size 10 on sale? That's MY size. The last size 10 in something that is not currently in my closet? So I stalked the woman, told her the shoes weren't right for her and then bought them for myself. And I didn't even like them that much. Bah, humbug.
When did this selfish side of me start to rear its ugly (but well-groomed) head? As a child, my report card was filled with E's for "excellent in sharing." I was always the one who got more excited at giving gifts than receiving them. And I still am. It's not that I don't enjoy sharing or giving. I love it, as a matter of fact. It's just that the minute the first Santa is out ringing his bell I seem to turn into an entirely different person and I get caught up in the frenzy of the season: the ringing cash registers, the weight of the packages in my hands and the shouting of one shopping buddy to another, "Over here, I found the perfect gift for Aunt Martha." Do I need the perfect gift that Aunt Martha is getting? It may not suit anyone on my list so perhaps I should just buy it for myself. Suddenly, if it's perfect for someone else then it's perfect for me too. All this action gets my adrenaline going. It's like a month-long sample sale where I can't find the exit door.
And then I get home, toss my bags on my bed and assess the haul. Suddenly the ratio is for every one present I have bought for somebody else, I have bought myself two. I'm not proud of this nasty little habit. But then the season passes and I forget the shame.
Maybe this year I'll really make an attempt to stick to my list. Maybe I'll bring a friend to keep me in line. Maybe I should just consider doing all of my shopping on the Internet.