Shopping Traditions

Thanksgiving has come and gone. Black Friday came and people were out in droves, according to the news. I do not get out on Black Friday, haven’t done so for years but it did look like a lot of people were out.

It was fascinating to see the long lines of people camped out in front of stores waiting for them to open. Some had been in line for hours, starting early Friday and sometimes late Thursday just for a chance to spend their money. Personally, I can’t think of a thing I want that bad. (See Addendum)

All these people seemed to be having a really good time. Some said they waited all year for Black Friday because the deals are so good, and others said Black Friday shopping had become a family tradition. Some shoppers were spending the entire day shopping while others came for one specific item and going home.

Sometimes it seems shopping is what the holidays are all about. Like people have forgotten about the reason for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It has become one big shopping spree. Sure, it’s fun to go shopping and buying gifts for people. I really like giving and receiving gifts and it doesn’t have to be anything big or of immense value. I know to some it sounds corny or blaze` to say it’s the spirit of giving that means the most.

Anyway, all this hoop-la about shopping got me to thinking about how we approached shopping when I was growing up. It was definitely a different time.

The biggest event to happen around the holidays was the arrival of the Sears Roebuck Christmas Catalog. How many of you remember the Christmas Catalogs? Sure we got them from other stores, like Montgomery Ward, J.C. Penney and Spiegel but it was the Sears Roebuck catalog that had the best stuff and us kids would pour over it every day right up to Christmas Eve, which was the day we had been waiting for.

We were told that Santa could only bring us 3 gifts each. We could have only one big item. The other 2 were the usual candy and fruit that everybody always asked for at Christmas. One thing I wanted then and still enjoy getting is a big box of really good chocolates. Needless to say those catalogs really got worked over. It was a tough choice. What was that ONE thing we wanted above all else.

It was so much fun looking through all those books and dreaming of all the things pictured in them. Most of the time Santa did bring us what we asked for but many times he did not. Sometimes our wishes were just too expensive. I understood why Santa didn’t bring some of the things we asked for.

I don’t know exactly when I discovered who Santa was, seems like I had always known. Just didn’t want to lose that fantasy. Admitting there was no Santa was like losing your childhood and I wanted to keep it as long as possible. Guess I didn’t want to rush into adult-hood.

Thinking back to those days I find myself wishing I had taken the time to enjoy them more. Christmas Eve arrived finally and it seemed as though it took forever for it to get dark enough so we could go to bed and sleep. Of course, once we got to bed, sleep was so hard to come by. The anticipation of Christmas Morning was so intense sleep was the last think on our minds. But sleep did come and Christmas Morning arrived and up we got as soon as the first ray of light came in the window.

We could hardly contain our excitement as we rushed into the living room to see if we got what we actually asked for. Usually we did or at least very close to it. I think we all instinctively knew what price range to ask for, so we were hardly ever disappointed.

It would be so nice to once again get that Sears Roebuck Christmas Wish Book. To sit down with it and pour through all those colorful pages of gifts and fantasies and dream of having almost one of everything on those pages.

Now that I am writing all this it is dawning on me that what I am remembering most is the feelings I had around Christmas. It’s not the gifts from Santa but the anticipation and joy around the gift giving. You see, besides looking for what I wanted Santa to bring, I also looked at all the things I would like to get for my parents, dreaming of one day being able to give to them.

Unfortunately, that day never came. My advice to everyone, enjoy and love the people around you now, today. Now is the only time we have.

Until next time,

Gloria ‘Jeannie’

(ADDENDUM: Just put out my carved wood Santa with his bag of toys. A piece my friend and I went shopping for the day after Christmas to get it at half-price. We fought our way through the crowd when the store opened and made a bee-line for the Santas we had seen earlier in the month. So there are some things I stood in line and fought the crowds for but I was a lot younger then.)

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