Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Point, Click, Purchase

Black Friday was rather unconventional for me this year. Normally, I’m hopping out of bed at 4:00, putting on my Christmas sweater and heading to Cutters Point for my first 24 oz. quad shot rice milk peppermint white mocha of the season. Why? Because I’m headed to Fred Meyer, Kohl’s and (if I’m feeling especially brave) Wal-Mart, of course! My mommy, sisters and I head out and shop till we drop, hoping to have all our Christmas presents (plus our families’ holiday clothes, winter jammies, socks and underthings for the year) purchased at rock-bottom prices by lunch time. This year, however, was fairly unconventional.

First of all, I wasn’t in my neck of the woods—I was chillin’ with my parents in Ocean Shores! I had intended to possibly drive thirty minutes to Aberdeen (the closest chain-shopping area), but that didn’t happen. After a full day of cooking, I was exhausted. At seven weeks post-surgery, my energy level, while leaps and bounds higher than it was in the hospital, is still not at 100%. I woke up a good four hours later than I usually do on Black Friday and only purchased 7 gifts. My money may not have all been spent—but I sure was! The rest of my shopping was done in my parents’ living room online. Point, click and purchase.

This year, I needed the simplicity that online shopping offers, and I’m glad I did it. However, I’ll be happy when next year rolls around and I’m in ship-(shopping) shape! I don’t mind grabbing the odd specialty item on amazon.com, but doing the majority of my purchasing in front of a screen left me feeling hollow. After a few days of reflecting, I understand why …

Even if I’m sitting next to my sisters on “Laptop Island” (otherwise known as my parents’ living room couch), I’m looking at a blaring monitor, not them. Having someone send you a link from four feet away doesn’t feel the same as Laura holding up an article of clothing and squealing, “Sissy, look at this!”

I missed the greeters at Fred Meyer, who offer a smile, hot cider, coffee and doughnuts to all the shoppers. I missed talking to strangers in the sock aisle. Even the simple act of being handed a receipt feels better to this extrovert than a confirmation email— clearly, I NEED face time!

Purchasing the gifts themselves felt less like shopping and more like paying a bill. My transaction doesn’t feel “real,” because I don’t have anything in my hands. When I leave a store, I have presents in my pretty holiday bags. Online gifts, however, arrive a week later in ugly cardboard boxes. It feels cold and impersonal.

Even if I know precisely what I’m looking for, there’s something about going down the aisle and choosing the gift myself. Even if there are dozens of identical items, the object I hold in my hand is exclusively for someone I love. How do I know that someone in a warehouse isn’t going to grab a scratched, dented box? I don’t. Even if inspector #29 really cares about his/her job, I know they don’t care like I do. After four thousand dolls cross their conveyer belt, will they notice that this particular specimen is having a really bad hair day? Probably not—after all, they only see a toy. As an auntie, however, I see a precious playmate for my niece, which I would prefer not to look as though she has had an unfortunate episode with a light socket.

So much of the communication in our lives today feels terribly impersonal. Facebook with my family is a blast, but it doesn’t compare with our genuine time together. There is no emoticon that adequately captures Janet’s “snerd face.” LOL does not truly express Laura’s infectious, doubled-over laughter. “*Hug*” cannot possibly encourage, comfort or express my mother’s love. While technology has its place in my life, it will never replace my need to be with family and friends.

As I say this, my list of things to do is already reeling in my head. This time of year, when my schedule becomes crazier than usual, it’s so easy to miss out on time with people in the name of preparing their gifts, food and cards. Perhaps I’ll put a sticky note on my monitor to remind me of the importance of scheduling genuine “face time.”

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About Me

I'm not your average housewife; but then, neither is any other housewife I've met! My life is a constant blur of kids, animals, hunting down and testing allergy-friendly recipes, shopping, LOTS of coffee, yarn crafting, nannying, singing and writing. I married my highschool sweetheart (the introvert who is a type-A, shy, organized, loves hunting, hiking and mountain climbing. He lives for pizza, burgers and cookies and doesn't like coffee). We are polar opposites, but Love, grace and a whole lotta Jesus can overcome anything! :) We have two boys who fill this house with lots of excitement, love, laughter and lunacy! Alan (9) is a happy-go-lucky, inventive, dramatic, eager-to-please kid who loves being dad's shadow and mom's shopping companion. He's the snuggliest kid I've ever met! Wyatt is extremely bright, inquisitive, entertaining and endearing. He lives for routine, Wii games, pixar films and writing stories. Alan is typically-developing, Wyatt has high-functioning autism. We live on an acre in the Pacific Northwest with our two aussies and 5 chickens. It's not the Waltons, but it works! :)