Saturday, November 24, 2007

I felt compelled yesterday, as if a hundred tiny voices were crying, "shop! shop! shop!"

When I walked through Westlake, maybe 15 live voices were calling out the same message, facetiously, bouncing around in a teeny mob of signs: "Buy more stuff now!!" "Shop!!" Predictably, the Buy Nothing Day self-righteousness parade had no effect on passers-by. They stuffed the streets, loaded with shopping bags and -- judging from the lines at Starbucks -- thoroughly caffinated.

I used to be a closet shopper, hiding lunch-break shopping bags in the trunk of my car, pretending I was above common consumerism by buying obscure, cheap brands rather than recognizable labels. But since I was never actually very good at keeping my habit hidden, and since I've shed the too-coolness of pretending to be a hipster or an artist or whatever, I've come to terms with my total enthusiasm for shopping. I love the people, I love the smells of the stores, I love trying on clothes and holding glittery earrings up to myself in a mirror.

And I felt Black Friday could only possibly be pleasant for shopping enthusiasts like myself. The crowds, the lines, the overblown advertising. But I worked my way through Nordstrom Rack with more ease than normal -- no wait at the ladies fitting room (it's not all about Christmas presents), and the normally-long register line moved much more quickly than normal. Same with Starbucks, where my soy latte order was prepared before I'd even paid, and cookies were prepackaged for easy handing-out.

And thus, in less than four hours, I was on my way home with presents for everyone on my little list (plus a couple on the way from Amazon). Back when I avoided the blatant materialism of Black Friday, I Christmas shopped throughout December. This drawn-out process left me stressed for nearly a month, and the longer it took more time I had to worry about getting just the perfect presents, not spending too much, not forgetting anything or anyone. But my presents were iffy, I bought too many little unnecessary things, and spent too much. I'm sure a bigger budget and greater maturity helps me now, but the mini-marathon of doing it most in one day helps too: I avoid overbuying, ideas for one person help me think of things for other people, I can keep money in check but limiting the stores I visit.

The only drawback was a bulky armful of heavy gifts to drag around -- along with the latte, it was impossible to eat my cookie. Loaded with shopping bags and thoroughly caffinated but hungry, it was time to go home.

No comments: