For reasons quite easy to understand, I went out shopping last night and today.
It actually wasn't that bad. The trick is to know what you're getting into. If one simply accepts, even as one sets out to pick up those last two or three gifts, that the excursion will end up taking three hours (when the exact same trip performed on, say, a Tuesday in March would take ninety minutes), one will do just fine. And I find that for the most part people are being fairly pleasant, amongst the crush of people. I just keep trying to be observant, get out of their way when they're obviously looking for something, and so on. It's not that hard to stay pleasant even while fighting the Crowds of Christmas. I've come to realize that there's an extent to which it's true that we can influence our own moods and such, so rather than see all the other people around as annoyances and obstacles, I choose to see them as people who are racing against the clock to buy nice stuff for the people they love. So why be a prick about it?
A few notes from the shopping front today and last night:
:: Isn't it great when stuff's on sale that isn't marked as being on sale? It's cool to see the sum at the register turn out to be ten bucks less than the mental tally you've been keeping in your head. I love that.
:: Exception to the above thing about Christmas shoppers really being nice people: The woman who checked out in front of me at Target last night was so engrossed in her friggin' cell phone conversation that she took forever to gather up her bags while I was cashing out myself. In fact, she lingered so long that she actually picked up my bag, prompting the lovely cashier to yell out, "Hey, that's not your bag!" The lady just looked, shrugged, and plunked my bag back down, without even breaking her conversation long enough to apologize.
So yeah, don't tell me that yakking on a cell phone while driving is some holy right that the government shouldn't be legislating away.
:: Buffalo readers: if you're generally of the anti-Walmart stance, and you're not doing part of your Christmas shopping in East Aurora, then it's time you started. It's precisely the kind of small-town retail environment that the anti-Walmart crowd is always waxing rhapsodic about. And it isn't just Vidler's, either. I just love East Aurora. It is, to me, what the Elmwood strip is to the Buffalo Rising crowd. And frankly, it's the kind of thing about our whole region that we should be advertising all over the Great Lakes region. Small-town shopping districts like East Aurora's are wonderful, magical places. East Aurora should be the Northeast's answer to Galena, Illinois. (And if you haven't been to Galena, what are you waiting for? It's only a twelve hour drive from Buffalo, right down US 20! Go!)
:: Also Buffalo readers: if you, or anyone you know, wears workwear (like Carhartt) or a medical uniform (nursing scrubs or chef coats) on a regular basis, the Work'n Gear location on Walden Ave on Cheektowaga is closing and is thus marking everything down like crazy. (Yes, I've already cleaned them out on overalls in my size. Well, not the Carhartts. Carhartt stuff is way more expensive than I can afford, even at twenty percent off, which is kind of a bummer because those dark green ones look kinda cool.)
:: No snow. Ugh!
:: From the "Keep your voice down, dear" department: a guy was exiting Target last night with his wife, some kind of large piece of electronica -- a big TV, perhaps -- on a flatbed cart, promising his wife how he'd demonstrate his gratitude that she'd finally let him get the gizmo he wanted. Let's just say that if certain things either work or don't work in the way they're intended, this fellow may be getting another big present in late August or September.
:: I used to do my Christmas shopping early. Like, October. I'd get the main things I wanted to give people then, and use the "real" shopping season to get little things to fine-tune Christmas the way I wanted. This year, I went with the "Shop at the last possible second" approach. I don't recommend this. Next year, I'm back to doing it early.