Back when Christmas shopping meant heading downtown to wander in and out of neighborhood shops and window shopping meant peering through glass at wonderfully imaginative scenes, Christmas shopping was almost fun. There was feeling of anticipation, even with having to brave December weather, slippery sidewalks and little ones whining, crying or wanting to see Santa. It was just all part of Christmas shopping adventure. After I finished, there was exhaustion, but a good exhaustion, knowing I had found and chosen a special gift for each person on my list.
Those days gave way to shopping centers and mega-stores and then mega-shopping centers, with temperature controlled environments, carpeted walkways and imitation nostalgia. The entire experience became a bit surreal, like being plopped into the middle of a movie set. I knew exactly what was around the corner of any walkway. More of the same.
I felt trapped in some enormous maze without any exit in sight…all of which was a bit ironic, given that I had fought so hard and so long for an actual parking place, which in itself was the equivalent to an E ticket admission.
I think that just gave away my age.
More than a few years ago, I recall sitting at my computer, phone on speaker, listening to my daughter, then daughter-in-law on the other end and sitting in front of her computer screen. It took under an hour to get through all five grandkids’ wish lists, moms directing me to websites and the perfectly desired item and grandma pushing the BUY and SEND buttons. Efficient, yes. And the kids got what they wanted. But not a whole lot of fun.
Today, regardless of the time of day or night, I simply wandered up and down my laptop, ipad or smart phone screen, looking pictures, descriptions and reviews of special gifts for special someones, all while I sit cozy at home in my robe with a mug of hot coffee. Christmas will arrive at someone’s doorstep, professionally wrapped with a generic holiday tag of well wishes.
I love Small Business Saturdays. It reminds me of times past, and even though the grandkids now just want cash, easier yet, I can still wander in and out of the local shops in search of a small item or two that may make Christmas just a wee bit more special.
This Thanksgiving, my eldest grandson sat down to catch me up on his university studies. He shared that he was so very excited about math — Advanced Calculus — and had set the curve on the midterm. He has found his passion in a subject area I avoid like the plague. He obviously got that gene from the other end of his DNA pool.
Eldest grandson had learned that he transferred in sufficient credits so he could easily obtain a minor or double major; his counselor suggested something in Engineering, perhaps Software Engineering. His aunt jumped into the mix, asking if he wanted an internship with her large company that is working on the next generation of satellite and space exploration.
I’ve seldom seen my grandson so excited as he explained the future possibilities of space exploration.
When he paused to catch his breath, I asked, do you have any idea what your great-grandfather did?
It was my opening to share about his grandfather’s father, who was systems manager for the Pioneer satellite probes to a number of planets and then, into deep space. Evidently, this young apple didn’t fall far from the family tree.
Eldest grandson was amazed. He wanted to see the binder of all of his great-grandfather’s achievements, which has sat safe in a binder in my bookcase for years, and is making a special trip up to see the binder (and, of course, me) after finals.
It’s not quite time yet, but I do know of a very special future Christmas gift that already has Eldest Grandson’s name on it.