This post first appeared on December 16, 2020.
Veteran Christmas shoppers have seen it all. We’ve fought kamikaze traffic and circled malls 250 times, seeking parking places in the same zip code. We’ve donned body armor to survive elbowing crowds and hostile, Klingon clerks.
Once, I watched two scary grandmas in line ahead, battling over who was first. Would they take out all of us?
Enter online shopping.
I don my loudest holiday sweater and drink hot chocolate in my favorite Christmas mug. I assemble credit cards and password lists.
Ready. Set. Shop!
However, my laptop’s not in the Christmas spirit — crankier than a teen awakened on Saturday. When I threaten it with a pitcher of cold water, the laptop finally cooperates. Sort of.
It sends me to the Malwart website, rather than Walmart. When I Google “Target,” it makes me one, sending my address and accompanying maps to various Middle Eastern websites. Then a pop-up offers the Garfield beach towel my grandson covets for only $471. When I switch to purchasing a storybook instead, the website informs me others who bought this book also purchased “The Preschool Guide to Overthrowing the Government.”
Weary of children’s gifts, I peruse flannel shirts for my tall, thin son. Surely, with 83,259,441,701 advertised, I’ll find one. But 83,259,441,700 are size XXXXXLarge.
Wait. I see it!
One size large, tall, in un-girly blue plaid. In stock! But the perfect shirt can be sent only to Madagascar by Christmas. If sent to Indianapolis, it’ll arrive on February 29, 2024. If I pay extra.
I return to pricing Garfield beach towels. Three cost more than $500 apiece, so I grab the bargain at $471. Using the promotion code BANKRUPT, I owe only $470.12. Surely, I get free shipping. No?! I must spend $203.77 more. So, I buy a bag of flour.
Pre-Internet nostalgia overwhelms me. I miss Christmas fairylands. Humanoids who said, “May I help you?” and did. I miss harmonizing to “What Child Is This?” in stores, celebrating the true Reason for the season.
So, I’ll again circle for parking spots — in any zip code. Though … the scary grandmas probably are still battling.
We other shoppers will watch — from a distance.
Maybe we should bring along pitchers of cold water?
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you prefer online or in-person shopping? Why?