Holidays seem to pass very fast.

Thanksgiving is gone. Now the shopping season is upon us. If you don’t remember that’s the holiday between Thanksgiving and Christmas that so many retail owners love. I have never really gotten much into the Black Friday buying frenzy like some people. It is a little too much pressure to buy, buy, buy, and perhaps I am just not in the spirit yet. And honestly, who wants to get up at four in the morning just to buy gifts? Who wants to stand in line just to hand over hard earned dollars? It’s not like an amusement park where you get a thrill after standing in line for twenty minutes, and it’s not like waiting in line for a restaurant where you get taste the chef’s latest masterpiece.

Are people really that motivated to be generous? I hope so. I also hope the generosity carries over to how they drive and how they talk and how they treat the people they live with.

Personally, I don’t like to shop for shopping’s sake, or because the calendar has flipped to a certain page. I want to buy gifts for others because I am motivated out of spontaneity, out of love, out of a desire to see more smiles and lift hearts.

I know. Some people are just shoppers. It is a hobby. It is medicine. It is an addiction. It is invigorating and just plain fun.

When I travel, I am a shopper. I see so many things I want to bring home and share with those I care about. A chalk drawing of Paris with the Eiffel tower lit up in yellow chalk. Dried octopus and Japanese whiskey with a venomous snake in the bottom. Chinese silk and Lao handcrafts. Irish tea and bottles of sand and shells from the prettiest beaches in Thailand. I want them to see what I saw, and taste the food I tried, and hold exotic products you just can’t find anywhere else, and if possible, experience a small part of my travels with me. Yes, I am a big shopper when I travel.

That’s why I don’t like traveling without my girlfriend. I might as well not travel. When I’m in love I want to share every experience with her. And traveling, well, that’s an awesome event. I want to share with her the uniqueness of seeing a country, the sights, the sounds, the culture, of tasting new strange foods for the first time. I end up having to leave behind half my shirts and all my socks just to fit all the things I have bought for her in my suitcase. And still I have an extra carry on bag or two stuffed with tissue-wrapped parcels.

When I don’t get to travel though, I must go searching for gifts. And if I am going to be searching, then I want to know exactly what my loved ones want. I don’t think it is laziness or a lack of imagination.

It’s probably because I am not a good receiver. Nothing is worse than getting something for Christmas and not knowing what to do with it. I pull off the paper and open the pretty box and there beneath a few layers of tissue paper is this thing, this odd moose horn, or this doll that is an old lady holding a guitar, or a spinning thingamabob that lights up when you plug it in. Yes, the thought is nice, it’s moving. But I have shelves full of good thoughts and “I thought you might like it”s and it is becoming a fire hazard. I don’t know what to do with the stuff and I don’t want to throw it away.

I think we all have these stories. I think we all have a box or two tucked away in a closet, or in an attic, or under the bed that holds something we were given for Christmas. And we haven’t touched it since.

Why not save our friends and family some money and some time and tell them what we want? They don’t have to buy it. But if they do, at least they can know that our smile is genuine when we open the present on Christmas.

That’s why I ask for lists before I go Christmas shopping. I would rather buy a person something useful, something they want, rather than a shelf ornament. I get a lot of joy out of buying from lists. I can’t wait to see their faces when they open up something they have been wanting for a real long time. I can save time too, in the mall or in the department store, if I know exactly what it is I am looking for.

That leaves me with a lot of time left over to enjoy the season, the sights and sounds, the smells and cheer.

© Seth Crossman