Sunday, December 21, 2008
Christmas Shopping On Winter Solstice
The weather outside wasn't frightful,
and there was no fire inside to make it delightful,
So away I went to do some Christmas shopping
Just a store hopping and hopping and hopping...
And guess what, Christmas shopping 4 days and a wake up before Christmas was actually rather nice. The parking lot at a local mall was pretty packed but I knew enough to stay away from the store and park in a place from whence I would need to walk a few hundred yards. Just that little distance makes all the difference in whether or not you are driving around for 15 minutes closer to the entrance, or 15 seconds further out. For me it was 15 seconds - just about literally.
Once inside the stores I realized I forgot a $10 coupon I had for Dick's Sporting Goods. I was going to buy something for Brendan but decided that the $10 coupon would be worth the wait so I held off for another day. Yes that likely means I'll wait until Christmas Eve for that gift, especially since I finished with everything else today. Well maybe not finished, I got my wife a gift and then found out another color would likely have been better. So if I go back, I exchange that gift. Luckily she does not tread my blog so I can mention that here.
I spent some time strolling around the mall, then headed into Macy's. Macy's is a Christmas Season must for me. I must go there, I must buy something there. Ever since I was a fairly young lad, my mom would take me there shopping in NYC. We would always stop to see the Macy's and Gimble's (another but now defunct department store that was Macy's competitor right across the street) Christmas displays in their windows. At Christmas time there was always, and I mean always as in every year we went, and that I continued to go for some years later, a live Santa display at both stores. It was sort of a rivalry as to which store had the better show. Santa would come out every 15 to 20 minutes or so for a Ho-Ho-Ho. There was also a religious aspect to the displays as I recall. Maybe 10 or 15 years ago, I visited Macy's in NYC to be disgusted by the semi naked mannequins they had decked out in what I recall were red, green and blue sequined outfits, fit for sluts in my opinion. Now don't get me wrong, I am a red blooded male and I can enjoy a cheap thrill right along with another man when a woman wants to dress in scanty attire - but it was not fit for a Christmas display in my opinion. It was that way for at least a few years. I stopped going, not to Macy's but to see the displays (Gimble's was already long gone by then as I recall). This year I also visited Macy's in NYC, that was last week, and there was a Christmas display fit for children but with many figures that I could not associate with Christmas. Maybe they are from recent Christmas shows but I kind of doubt it, they look like something a designer from the Chelsea section in NYC would have thought up when in a bad and bitchy mood. Oh well, it was all in Christmas motif nonetheless, and there was a Santa display - no not live - not in the store window anyhow.
As for today, I strolled around Macy's in Westbury, NY on Long Island for a couple of hours. Several salesladies asked if needed directions, or if they could help me find an item, and each had a concerned look on their faces as if I appeared lost, or dumbfounded or something like that. I explained to each that if they thought I looked dazed and confused that was okay because I had no idea about that for which I was shopping and I explained that made it more fun. All that attention made it fun too. So I just aimlessly walked around and took in the feeling of the season (mind you even the first Christmas had an awful lot to do with gifts, and I do not mean just the Frank Incense, Myrrh and gold since as I recall another gift was given that day - and that is why we have Christmas in the first place). But I digress, back to Macy's. Of course the concerned salesladies only stopped me after I already had bought my wife a couple of things, things that I did have in mind before I entered the store. I got them right out of the way - sort of anyhow. I had to go to the counter three times to get one item at the 40% off they advertised on the stand where I found it. Two times I was told it was not on sale, by saleslady A and then saleslady B, then the third time saleslady A said it was on sale and that is how it rang up at 40% off. Go figure, I suppose third time was a charm, and 40% savings was worth the extra 20 minutes or so. Then I went into the aforementioned dazed and confused mode, and it was kind of fun having all those ladies trying to help to poor middle aged guy who looked so much like he needed help. I did that for another 45 minutes or so then headed back out into the rest of the mall. I couldn't find anything else, and then took off to visit my mom.
Maybe it was the fact that it is Winter Solstice and the first day of winter today that helped make my shopping experience so easy and so much fun, or maybe it was just luck, or whatever - but it was fun and easy. That is a good way to end the year. Yes, this really is the end of the solar year since the days are finally about to begin to get longer, as in tomorrow. Since today was the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere it essentially was the end of the solar year for us as it would have been for ancient people. I imagine it was no coincidence that Christianity chose December 25th as the time for the birth of their savior; and yes Christianity chose that date - or at least the Roman Catholic Church chose it. It is much more likely that the Christ child was actually born in the Spring. Now don't get me wrong, if you choose to believe otherwise that is fine by me. I am not trying to belittle Christmas or its importance to Christians, not at all. While I am no longer religious, I still find the essence of Christmas, in that it is a time of spirituality, and of loving, and of gift giving to be one of the best times of the year.
Well anyway, the next thing you know it will be April Fools' Day - well of course not before it is: Chanukah, legal New Year's Day, Chinese New Year, Groundhogs' Day, Purim (ahh, hamantashen, mmm goood), St. Patrick's Day and a few others in there somewhere along with daylight savings time.
Back to whatever it was that caused my good time shopping today, I had a blast. I am looking forward to one more day of Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve. I may have to go to Manhattan for that one, I mean how can I miss my annual trip to the LIRR station in my village, for a train ride to Penn Station, then a walk to 34th Street, a further walk east on 34th Street with a stop in Macy's of course, then onward east on 34th toward 5th Avenue, then a stop at the top of the world (observation deck on the Empire State Building), and then a walk north on 5th Avenue to see the tree and ice skaters at Rockefeller Center, then across the street and a few blocks north to to St. Patrick's Cathedral (yes I am not religious but am spiritual and it is a wonderful place in which to be spiritual), and then to stroll up 5th Avenue and gawk in the windows at Tiffany's and Van Cleef and Arpels, and then to walk through Central Park's southern end over to 7th Avenue, then down 7th through Times Square maybe with a stop for some liquid refreshment (though not right in the tourist trap of the Times Square area), then further down 7th to 34th Street to Penn Station for the train ride home. That my friends, or something very similar, has become a tradition for many years now, and I hope to do it again this year with wife and kids in tow or not; and chances are I will be on my own this year because everyone else is working or otherwise busy on Christmas Eve. Any way I do it though it will be enjoyable and spiritual.
All the best,