While my children were growing up I often found myself downtown on December 24th. Occasionally I was on a mission looking for one last gift or stocking stuffer, but more often than not just looking for a diversion from my hectic holiday pace. I discovered three categories of shoppers that typically appear on December 24th
The first category is the men who have procrastinated until the last-minute and they still need to buy a gift for their mother, wife or sweetheart. There are two types of men shoppers on Christmas Eve: men that truly don’t have a clue and men that really don’t care. The men that don’t have a clue start in the clothing department. In the clothing department they resort to gesturing with their hands to indicate the size of the woman they are shopping for. The harried clerk stands behind the counter with a puzzled look on her face, really wanting to help, but with no idea of how to translate the hand movements into an appropriate size. The men quickly give up that idea. They know that if they buy something too small the woman on their list will be disappointed and if they buy something too large, they are really in trouble. Having discarded their first idea they migrate back and forth between the jewelry department and the perfume counter, or the few that are a little more risqué’ may find their way to the lingerie department. They pace up and down the aisles with worried looks on their faces until they end up buying something, probably paying too much, have it gift wrapped and leave the store looking totally unconvinced that they have chosen well.
The second type of male, the one who really doesn’t care, struts in. He is there only because he didn’t have a secretary to shop for him or because his secretary refused to do it. He heads straight for the kitchen department. Quickly picks up the latest gadget, doesn’t bother to have it wrapped and struts out like a peacock with his feathers on display. On Christmas morning he probably hands it to the woman in his life, still in the same bag with the price tag still affixed and wonders why she isn’t thrilled.
The second category of shoppers is the bargain hunter. There are also two types of bargain hunters. The first type of bargain hunter has her Christmas shopping done. She still has money to blow. She is the one perusing the high end aisles of gifts looking for one more tech toy her child doesn’t need or trying on the fur collar sweater she just might buy for herself. She is totally unaware of the other shoppers around her unless they happen to pick up an item she is interested in.
The other type of bargain hunter is the minimum wage earner. She has waited for her paycheck to shop or he has just come from the nearest Pay Day Loan center. They are left with the debris that earlier shoppers didn’t want. They ponder over the remnants that have been left behind hoping to find some small gift that will put a smile on the child they left at home. Interestingly, this type of shopper seems to smile more and seems to be finding more joy in the process than the others.
The third category of Christmas Eve shoppers is the observer. The observer really isn’t a shopper at all. She has already completed her Christmas shopping. She just loves the atmosphere the day before Christmas. She wanders around, a pumpkin spice latte in her hands and listens to the music, watches the children on Santa’s lap and enjoys the merriment of the day. She smiles at strangers. She stops and chats with people she meets along the way and she wishes everyone she sees a Merry Christmas.
During my life I have been the recipient of gifts purchased by men in the first category, and in later years as a single Mom I found myself in the bargain hunter category shopping the dregs that were left behind. But if you see me downtown on Christmas Eve this year I will be the grandma type with the pumpkin spice latte in my hand wishing everyone a Merry Christmas.
And just in case you don’t make it downtown on Christmas Eve let me wish you the merriest Christmas ever.