What I remember about the first time I went Christmas shopping by myself was that it got to be just too much for me.
First of all, I wasn't really alone, but my mom had let me be alone in a store (or at least in the aisle of a store) so I could do the selecting I needed to do. At the appointed time, we met up at the front of the store so I could pay. I suppose I must have been eight or ten years old. I don't remember where I got the funds to buy presents, but I do recall that I felt it was a rather weighty responsibility even though I wanted everyone in my family to have something from me that Christmas.
I shopped at one of the dime stores in Webster City, where the plethora of possibilities for presents seemed almost endless to me. Maybe that was what overwhelmed me, because soon after I met up with my mom I burst into tears with the frustration of it all. My poor mom certainly didn't know what my problem was, and I'm not sure I did, either. But I do remember that suddenly I was overwhelmed -selecting what in my young mind were just the right gifts for those in my family (what if they didn't like it?), figuring out how to make my money stretch (what if it wasn't enough?), and then spending what I had been saving for so long (now I wouldn't have any left!).
Well, I have come a long way since then in the Christmas shopping department. I no longer stand in the middle of the store and cry, but - as you may know if you've been out there in the trenches shopping-it can still be a pretty frustrating task. Especially for someone like me who doesn't really enjoy retail shopping. Last week I took a day to finish things up all by myself and felt good that I stuck with it for four or five hours. I didn't even attempt going to a mall or any of the mega-stores.
I had a lot of company, though. Even on a weekday, I couldn't help notice that there were plenty of shoppers in every store. Some were young mothers with a child or two or even three in tow. I didn't see one inpatient, unreasonable mother, but the closer it got to noon, the more tired and cranky youngsters I heard and saw.
Everyone else I encountered-shoppers and store employees alike - was cheerful and pleasant. My favorite meeting of the day was a 20-something shopper in one store who was doing a quick dance step down the store aisle to the piped-in Christmas tune. And she was smiling.
Especially for a non-shopper like me, that little jig definitely helped my day go better.