I took my annual Christmas non-shopping trip last night. Ever since my brother moved close to me six years ago, we have been taking an annual Christmas shopping trip together. It’s a unique trip because both of us hate to shop and love to procrastinate. Shopping is right up there on my list of hates with fingernails on chalkboards and road kill. The fact should be obvious by the fashion-less (I prefer timeless, or classic) way I dress and how I’m perpetually out of socks. It isn’t actually fair to call our trip a shopping trip, so we call it our non-shopping trip.
It began the first year he lived here because we both had put off our Christmas shopping until very late—I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it was the 23rd, possibly even the 24th of December. So we went not only for moral support, but also for the practicality of being able to pick out our own gifts from each other. I picked out some slippers and a wallet and he bought them for me and I bought him a book he wanted. Makes perfect sense. I’m guessing we didn’t wrap them, but maybe we did.
Here’s how the trip usually goes: We arrive at a loud Christmas-y mall with a mammoth fake tree and its gaudy ornaments, passageways full of unsupervised adolescents, toy-crazed children tugging on their parents, and single coeds browsing for expensive cutlery or fine jewelry or lacy unmentionables for their significant other(s). The music is blaring. A sweaty Santa is propped in front of the camera with a zillion kids squirming in line. It is all we can do not to turn around and leave. We discuss where we want to go first, and if neither of us has a good idea we either head straight to a candle store to smell interesting smells, or to a restaurant to grab a beer. After an hour or so of exploring scents and their laughable names or sharing some good sibling conversation over a seasonal lager, we venture back out to the inevitable. If we make it another hour or so, we will need another break so we’ll hit up an ice cream shop in the food court and have some more heart-to-heart conversation. When all is said and done we usually come away with maybe a gift or two, or maybe none, but the point has become that we spend time together. We usually don’t make lists, for how can you fail if you have no standard? Everything is a bonus!
I am nearly ashamed to say that last night I not only made a list but I also bought a few things on it. It was almost a little too productive to be recognized as a Dawn and Aaron Annual Christmas Non-Shopping Trip. Aaron did not make a list and so he considered his purchases pleasant surprises. I think we may have broken records for productivity right off the bat since we started at Wal-Mart to pick up Calvin’s new glasses. Right away we had an acquisition. Once we picked those up we were a little overwhelmed at the size and bustle around us. Aaron lives in DC and there aren’t many big stores around him—mostly corner groceries and underground pharmacies. And since I don’t drive I don’t do much shopping besides the grocery store down the street or the bagel place nearby. I had to fight to keep walking.
We moseyed around, looking at the board games and reminiscing about games we played growing up, wondering what kind of people buy a trivia game for the TV show Jersey Shore, things like that. Aaron took way too much time picking out deodorant, mostly because of how peculiar the smells were. He settled on three sticks with names like wilderness, open air, and freedom, (If you wonder what any of those smells like, you can stick your nose under his arms and find out.) while I successfully convinced myself that the boys in fact do not need a Spongebob pretend razor, shaving cream, and mirror for the bath. Aaron realized he needed a bike light or two since he recently almost got run over while biking, so he picked those up. We ran into Brian’s aunt. I bought a bra. Aaron found some new pillows for his bed. Some double-sided mounting tape. Clearly not a lot of Christmas shopping action going on. I bought some Play-doh to put in the boys’ stockings, because it seems like they should try Play-doh at some point, plus it came in neon colors. Suddenly we very much needed a cart (something we really did not want to need) and so Aaron put down his loot on a tie display to go find one. We left with altogether much more than we had envisioned getting. I felt like I should be done. Stocking stuffers for the boys was an item on my list and I had bought a bonus pack of Play-doh. Four exciting new colors!
Next we checked out some other stores by Wal-Mart, just looking around mostly. We settled into the comfort of World Market where Aaron texted me at one point, “save me from myself.” He had fallen prey to the olive oil section and found the labels riveting, so he read all of them. I was feeling the same way among the little kitchen accessories. How delightful! I found some stocking stuffers and gifts and tried to figure out how I could rationalize buying Russian nesting doll plates for myself, but alas, I could not. In the end I was happy to come away with a good lot, including some Christmas cards that I have since decided to return. Aaron settled on some sort of Greek, pressed, oober-double-super-extra virgin olive oil, whose rich history he could no doubt still dazzle you with, along with some bar accessories for his blossoming home bar, and candles for himself. (Indian Sandalwood and Indonesian Teak)
We had outdone ourselves with all our productivity and our stomachs were rumbling. We hadn’t even made it to the mall yet! So we found the mall nearby and walked into a restaurant and spent the next hour doing what the essence of our non-shopping trip is: good old fashioned sibling talk. This time it was over some greasy burgers, cold beers, and a sub-par server named Carly. We never made it to any stores in the mall. Aaron brought me home when we finished eating. Since Aaron had no list, he felt that his cache of items was a nice surprise and I was happy that I covered parts of my list. When Aaron got home he saw that he had left his new pillows at Wal-Mart on the tie display. Oh well! Another successfully unsuccessful Dawn and Aaron Annual Christmas Non-Shopping Trip.
|Aaron and me hanging out a few years ago...notice we aren't shopping.|
|First year of our Non-Shopping trip|
ADDENDUM: After reading this again, I thought I may have come off as a bit of a Scrooge/Grinch. Rest assured; I am not. I love Christmas and I love giving gifts to people. I love giving them gifts I have thought out and worked at, but our non-shopping trip is usually for those gifts that we realize we need a little too late to do anything awesome for. So. I am not Scrooge-y. The end.