When I was younger, much younger, I actually enjoyed Christmas shopping. It was an event, something to look forward to. I especially enjoyed trips to the department stores—The Crescent in Spokane and Frederick and Nelson in Seattle. I treasure the memories of the Sunday Christmas brunch at the Crescent and indulging in a Frango shake at the restaurant in Frederick and Nelson. Spokane, in particular, did Christmas up right. Downtown was always extremely festive. It didn’t hurt that the festiveness could be experienced in the comfort of the system of enclosed skywalks. Lots of good memories abound.
But that was then. The department stores are long gone, and my most recent Christmas shopping memories conjure up more frenzied herd than festive fun. I can’t remember the last Christmas season when I didn’t see at least one, and often several, news stories about fistfights breaking out over the last video game console or whatever must-have toy was currently in vogue. This is why I gave up braving the crowds years ago and do all my shopping online. I’m sad about the lost experiences, but what I remember no longer exists, and there’s no reason to brave the frenzied throng if I don’t have to.
I will leave you with the experience that, looking back on it, began my retreat from Christmas shopping. My wife and I realized we had neglected to buy a gift for someone important, and so we dashed out to the mall to rectify the situation. To set the scene, it was after 10 PM on a Saturday night, less than a week before Christmas. Needless to say, the vibe of peace on Earth and goodwill to men was not evident in those walls that night. For the gift, we settled on a Hickory Farms gift basket. It was quick and easy, and it was hard to go wrong with it. As soon as we walked into the store, I noticed they weren’t playing traditional Christmas music. In fact, they weren’t playing holiday music at all. For background ambience, they had chosen Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Specifically, while we were in the store “The Mexican Shuffle” was playing. If you’re not familiar with the group or the tune, I invite you to look it up on YouTube and see if it conjures up visions of Christmas home and hearth in your heart. It didn’t for me. In fact, I was overtaken by a severe dose of the giggles.
That experience, along with a few subsequent happenings, has almost certainly permanently sidelined me from the holiday shopping bedlam. There is nothing wrong with buying gifts from the comfort of my desk chair, after all. But I do admit, sometimes at this time of year, I find myself craving just one more Frango shake.
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