(Originally published December 18, 2013, edited)
It’s that time of year again. Christmas Crunch Time – the most wonderful time of year where overworked and underpaid moms begin to panic at the fact that Christmas is just a few shopping days away. During this beautiful holiday season, a deeply religious time of year, moms like me like to observe this special time in a very meaningful way by going to the mall.
Last weekend, as I’m sitting in 22 miles of traffic at the mall entrance, or The Gates of Hell as I like to think of it, I realize that I waited until the last minute again this year. So I made a solemn vow to myself:
“I am going to get it together and shop early next year! Like August.”
Yeah, probably not.
I believe that, deep down, everyone longs for a less consumer-ized Christmas. One of these years, I am going to pull the plug on overpriced gifts that my teenagers only appreciate for about two hours, and celebrate Christmas the old-fashioned way. How about a year where we sit around stringing cranberries and popcorn by the fireplace, singing Christmas carols and exchanging humble handmade Christmas gifts instead?
If that sounds good to you, well, you can just forget it, sucka’. If everybody pulled that kind of subversive stunt, the economy would collapse overnight, and the government would have to get involved. So, too bad, you ARE going along with the Holiday Program, whether you like it or not. It’s for the Good of the Nation, damn it. This means you need to go secure a very large sum of money, any way you can, and GO TO THE MALL.
Unless you live in the Sahara Desert, there should be several malls within five miles of your home. It doesn’t matter which one because they are all the same, so just pick one. Under federal law, all malls in the U.S. must have the same 32 chain stores. You have your chain bookstores, your chain clothing stores, your chain shoe stores, your chain restrooms, and your chain mystery meat Chinese food.
The basic idea behind malls is that they are more convenient than shopping at a bunch of random city shops. You can get all your shopping done is one place, right? Well that’s what I’m hoping for, since I waited until the last minute, and now I’m going pay for it… in more ways than one.
The first thing to remember about shopping at the mall at Christmastime is that you will probably get killed in the parking lot. At least that’s what the evening news tells us. If you don’t get knifed as you exit your car, then surely a renegade pickup truck, driving the wrong direction while trying to get to that last handicapped space, will take you down. Why? Because, legally, there are NO RULES in mall parking lots. You can drive as fast as you want, in any direction while shooting the finger at pedestrians, and it doesn’t matter. Well, this is just one of the risks you are going to have to take, since you were busy working 8 hours a day while all those smug and well-organized stay-at-moms finished their kids’ Christmas shopping lists way before Halloween.
So once you’re safely in the mall, you should avoid direct eye contact with the other holiday shoppers at all costs. These shoppers have been whipped into a psychotic frenzy by months of holiday advertisements, and they will buy anything they can wrap and put under their tree. If you get in their way, there could be major injuries involved. If your teenagers are with you at the mall, and they are whining about the crowds and long lines, then threaten to force them to go sit on Santa’s lap. That ought to shut them up real fast.
Now you’re ready for the actual shopping, only you don’t have a list because, again, you’ve been busy, damn it. But instead of wandering aimlessly through the jungle, your goal should be to get it over with as quickly as possible. The longer you stay in the mall, the longer you will plop down just about any amount for any item. “Oh, you want $1,237 for this I-phone case? Hey, no problem.” Plus, the longer you stay in the mall, the longer you will have to listen to those holiday classics on the mall public-address system. Studies show that prolonged exposure to poorly written Beatles Christmas songs can cause permanent brain damage.
So you need a plan, woman. Here’s an effective shopping method… if you have, let’s say, 16 people to buy for, vow to only spend $10 per person. Get everyone the same thing for $10 and, boom, you’re done! For example, go in to the Vitamin Store and get everyone a $10 bottle of Vitamin C, since it’s winter cold season and all, and everyone, young and old, are sure to cry with delight when they open your handy-dandy gift. “Oh, but that’s not very personal,” you say. Ok, well if you want to be more personal, then here are some guidelines:
Gifts for Men
Men are mesmerized by almost any stupid thing. As long as it’s electric and can be called a “gadget”. It doesn’t have to be expensive. I saw an electric cork popper for $4.99. Hey, it’s a gadget, so he’ll love it. One thing you should never buy a man is clothes. Men, like my husband, actually believe that they already have all of the clothes they will ever, ever need. New clothes make them nervous. For example, the average man has 45 T-shirts, but he only wears, at most, three of them. He has learned through humiliating trial and error, that if he wears any of the other 42 T-shirts, his wife will probably laugh at him (“You’re not going to wear THAT shirt, are you?). So he has narrowed it down to three safe shirts, and has managed to go several years without being ridiculed. If you give him a new T-shirt, he will pretend to like it, but deep down he will plot to kill you. Instead, give a man something practical, like a weed whacker. Now there’s something he can use!
Gifts for Little Children
This is easy because kids will tell you exactly what they want. My girls, when they were little, would spend months and months researching gift ideas mainly by watching hours of The Disney Channel. Make sure you get the children in your life exactly what they ask for, even if you disapprove of their choices. If your young niece thinks she wants a Tramp Stamp Barbie, with the colorful Butterfly ass tattoo, complete with body piercings, then you’d better get it. You may be worried that it might help to encourage her rebellious tendencies, but believe me, you have not seen rebellious tendencies until you’ve seen a child who thinks she did not get the right gift for Christmas!
Gifts for Teenagers
This is one of the world’s biggest mysteries, so good luck with this one. You can’t ask them what they want for Christmas because they went deaf years ago from the high decibel levels of their in-ear I-Pod headphones. Whatever you buy, make sure it has an expensive electronic screen attached to it. And if you can’t Instagram, Snap-Chat or Spotify their friends on it, then it’s a completely useless piece of garbage. Teens girls are the worst. With teen boys, at least you can bet on the latest video game, and it will be a guaranteed sure-fire hit. With girls, it’s a crap shoot. But one thing is for sure, if you are a woman over the age of 21, do not, I repeat DO NOT even attempt to buy them clothes. Oh sure, they’d love a cute outfit, but if YOU pick it out, it will automatically go straight into the Goodwill box. Trust me on this one. Just give up and go home. This mall is way too crowded anyway.
I hope everyone enjoys the bottle of Vitamin C that I got them this year. I gotta get outta this mall right now! Have a Healthy and Merry Christmas!