There’s a Kohl’s department store every five miles encircling El Paso like Christmas tree lights. Driving the highway at night, I see their windows glowing bright, cars sandwiched in the lots, shoppers buzzing through stacks of everything imaginable under the banner of “THE BIGGEST CHRISTMAS SALE.” It strikes me as ironic that “THE BIGGEST CHRISTMAS SALE” at Kohl’s seems to arrive every December weekend, Thursday-Saturday. I wonder which one is truly the biggest.
While I consider myself a Frugal Fanny, ferreting through sales piles makes me queasy. I blame a disastrous stint in teen retail decades ago. I’ll never get the smell of burnt Lycra tube skirts out of my nose. (Don’t ask.) So I smile, turn up my Christmas music and drive on. God bless them, every one, I say.
After all, those daring customers are shopping for loved ones, not themselves. That alone is a marked deviation from every other month in the year. The Season of Giving—isn’t that the Christmas moniker? I like it. More so for its intangible attributes rather than the material. Shoppers are not only buying items for people they care about, but they’re spending the time, which is a highly valuable commodity, to find that perfect fit. That glass slipper.
I’m an online lady. I forage Internet sites the way Kohl’s patrons dig through jean stacks. Only I get to do it from the comfort of my office, a cup of cinnamon tea in hand, music playing, fire blazing, quiet, calm and completely safe from being hit in the ankles by heedless shopping carts. To each his own.
Soon enough all my online purchases will arrive in brown paper packages to my doorstep. The cheery UPS man will wave and wish me a Merry Christmas as I carry them inside to unwrap and re-wrap in slick, sparkly paper. Then, traditionally, my husband and I carefully arrange all of those gold- and silver-trimmed items in our “gift suitcase,” pay the extra baggage fee to the airline and fly home to Virginia like a regular ole Santa & Mrs. Claus. I can’t wait.
While it’s in the mid-60s in the Chihuahua Desert, Virginia is already getting gussied up in icicles and snow flurries, and I can smell my dad’s pine fire from here. So I’ll be gone for a good chunk of the remaining December. It’s been quite a busy fall, and I’m looking forward to being out of the loop for a while, a mini-respite from responsibility—work and otherwise. That is the fundamental nature of Christmastime. To find again, no matter how briefly, that sense of carefree childhood. My family will be reunited under one roof. We’ll putz around the kitchen in pajamas and sleep-crusted eyes; coffee will brew; waffles will rise, and we’ll forget that we’re all grown up. We’ll see each other ten, twenty, thirty years younger and laugh like we did then. It’s magic. It’s sacred. It’s Christmas.
Truthfully, whether my dad likes his tie, my mother her perfume, my brothers their gadgets, it matters little. What matters is the giving—the moment that was spent focused wholly on that person. The time. Because after the Kohl’s and online purchases are compete and long after we’ve done our January returns, what are we left with but a string of memories, cascading moments shining bright.
Yours truly, Sarah
P.S. I’ll post coming 2011 events shortly.