You guessed it – Christmas shopping. Now, I’m aware that Christmas shopping can start several months earlier than December (the biggest shops swap over to Christmas things about a week after Easter finishes), but we tend to procrastinate and postpone and forget and become generally too busy to go Christmas shopping until December 15 – December 24. Two pitfalls of doing this are as follows: rushing and subliminal confusion. We think “oh, I won’t have another chance to buy something, so I’ll just get it now even though it isn’t on sale”. We spend top dollar for things that – while perhaps thoughtful – are actually worth significantly less. “A stormtrooper doll-thing? Hmm, the new Star Wars movie is coming out… and I can’t think of another gift for him… yep, it’ll have to do.” This kind of rushed purchasing is direct, it’s guilt-ridden, it’s painful. It’s very nearly masochistic. Subliminal confusion, on the other hand, is all on the heads of the chaps in marketing. They do a very very good job at this time of year (and ever since Easter), and probably get paid very well to do so. They’ve wrapped hampers that look stunning, they’ve combined things we never knew could possibly be combined in shops (but always wished they were), they’ve painted entire buildings with hints and suggestions and ideas. Our minds have taken in all the colors, smells, sounds, and textures that they’ve slipped into our lives over the past six or more months, and now that the word “Christmas” is becoming a solid and current event, all the marketing we’ve experienced since the beginning starts to niggle its way back into our minds. We simply have to have Christmas pudding. We couldn’t live without stockings, or wrapped presents, or holly, or wreaths. Tinsel. Baubles. Lights. Candy canes. Trees. (I’d love to go on a tangent about how plastic trees are a mockery of the original pagan rites, but that’s another topic in and of itself.)
But yep, Christmas shopping. A tip for the unwary: don’t choose in a hurry; don’t choose based on whim or marketing. Choose what you choose because you know the gift(s) will be used/useful or because the gift(s) will mean something real to the recipient. As for me, well… as I said, those marketing people really know their stuff. I try to hold my own, but sometimes I’m a whimsical buyer too. I’m working on it.