The Disillusionment of Holiday Shopping

As the season progresses deep into autumn and harvest and processing slows down, I’m often looking for ways to augment Christmas presents beyond what we have prepared ourselves for giving as gifts.  We have been slowly moving away from commercial influences at Christmas time over the past few years.  It has been a slow process.  I enjoy making handcrafted items for people but I often feel as though my handmade items aren’t ‘good enough’ in some way and they must be paired with something purchased from a store.  What a silly inkling, as if these items imported from elsewhere weren’t handmade by strangers!

Nevertheless, I like to be prepared early for Christmas so that when the snow flies, I can focus on the simplicity of being with family.  I try to get my shopping done before the ‘holiday season’ even begins.  I have a difficult time navigating my shopping trips at the best of times, let alone when the climate of buying intensifies at Christmas.  I also feel the undeniable cultural pull of wanting – the pressure to consume rather than to give.

In honour of early starts to my shopping, I headed out last night to purchase Rob’s Christmas gift.  We try to buy each other something practical, that we wouldn’t normally splurge on for ourselves.  I found the perfect thing and it was on sale, so it was time.  The item had sold out.  Leaving with only a rain check in hand, I decided to try and finish the rest of my shopping for the season.

My list this year is short for a few reasons.  Firstly, we are trying to give gifts we have made ourselves.  Secondly, I need to clean out my gift cupboard.  Thirdly, we would rather give less but give quality (useful, consumable, well made, thoughtful, in line with our values, etc).

I recently found a Spiderman figure at the grocery store on one of my late night expeditions for food.  One of those times where I’m sleepily meandering the aisles making it look like I know what I’m doing.  The boys have been enamoured with the idea of Spiderman since we saw him and Ironman in costume at the local Canada Day celebrations this year.  The boys like to dress up like them and stomp around the house, getting up to all sorts of interesting antics.  And by dress up, I mean pulling decorative pillow shams over their heads…with the pillows still in them!  When I saw the Spiderman figures had been marked down to $2, I carefully picked through all the packages looking for one that did not come with a weapon of some sort.  I settled on the only one not wielding something dangerous: Underwater Spiderman, complete with a mask and air tanks for scuba diving.

Last night as I popped in and out of many local shops,  picking up some small items, but I still had not found what I was looking for.  I needed to even the score…I still had only ONE Spiderman action figure.  I was looking for an Ironman figure to give to my 2 year old.  In an effort to complete my holiday shopping last night, I headed to Walmart to buy it.  I beelined it to the back of the store.  I found the Ironman figures hanging from a peg, and picked through the line of boxes with the same scrutinous care I had exercised at the grocery store.  Settling on two Ironman figurines with the same ‘rotating shield.’  I carefully considered each one; the paint colour, the size, the quality of the joints and overall appeal.  I headed toward the cash with the better one in hand.  On the long walk to the cash, I tuned out the noise around me and pondered what I was about to do.  As I approached the front of the store, I gently laid Ironman on the cases of Coke piled by the entrance, and walked out the door.

My apologies to the staff member who had to put Ironman back in his designated spot in the toy aisle…I had to get out.

As for Spiderman, he will soon be well loved in his new home.  It just won’t be ours.

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3 comments

  1. That was good! We hate holiday shopping. Last year on Black Friday (the big shopping day after our Thanksgiving) we consciously stayed away from the stores…pulling gorse instead. http://solarbeez.com/2013/11/29/how-we-spent-black-friday/
    We don’t buy things for each other anymore, but at times we feel the temptation to buy things for the grand kids. I always try to keep in mind the vortex of garbage the size of Texas floating out there in the Pacific ocean, killing sea life. If I think the gift will end up in the landfill or vortex, we won’t buy it, but we’re not perfect in that regard.

    Like

    1. Sometimes I imagine that I’m in the consumerist vortex on land! I like that imagery, and have seen enough documentaries on the plastics in the middle of the ocean to give myself a very clear picture.

      Like

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