My feet are throbbing and my eyes are nearly closed. It's been hours since I left work, yet I only just got home. From 5:30 until well after 8:00 tonight, I plodded my way through the Rockaway Townsquare Mall in an effort to complete my untouched Christmas shopping list.
Usually, this time of year is my favorite time to be in the mall. I love the decorations, and the Christmas carols pouring from wall-mounted speakers. I love carrying full shopping bags. Seriously. I take as much time as possible to meander through aisles and choose perfect gifts for friends and family. But I've found that, the older I get, the less enjoyable it becomes.
I remember the days when Mom would take care of my shopping for me. Sometimes, I'd accompany her, picking out the items that would go to my family members on Christmas day. Then, somewhere along the line, I grew up. And the obligation to buy fell squarely into my lap. The money I worked so hard for was forked over in store after store as I purchased gifts for Mom, Chase, Dad. Then my grandparents. Then friends came into the equation. Then boyfriends. And the boyfriend's family. Then coworkers. And acquaintances. And on and on. And this evening, instead of finding joy in purchasing a great book, the perfect earrings, the loveliest set of wine glasses, I found only agony. I got frustrated with everything. With the money, with the pressure, with the other shoppers. I caught myself cursing under my breath at the price of accessories and fake jewelry. I dealt out openly exasperated sighs to shoppers who walked too slow, took too long digging their overburdened credit cards from their wallets. I thought I may cry out in horror if I heard even one more screaming child.
Somehow, it all got out of hand.
My favorite part of Christmas has always been the giving. I love to carefully pick out a gift, then see the smile or the laugh or the tears that come with its unveiling. But then life happened. I started to forget to block off the time required to put the thought into my gifts...
Which is why tonight, a scant six days before Christmas Morn, I lugged my coat and credit card through the mall, searching frantically for a gift, any gift, for all eight million people on my list.
And, tonight, for the first time ever, I found myself buying sweaters and bath products, slapping my own credit card onto dirty cash register counters, thinking "This'll do." Is there anything that screams "I ran out of time and ideas and patience, so I got you this," more than sweaters and bath products?