Hump Day: The joys and hazards of Christmas shopping season

HHump Dayump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

It’s less than one month until Christmas and I’m starting to panic. Are you? If you’re not in a tizzy over the holidays, I want to meet you. And then I want to slap you.

OK, so maybe I won’t really slap you, but I’ll give you a very angry look that will either make you ever so slightly uncomfortable or prompt you to offer me an antacid. I’ll take the antacid, thank you very much.

Yes, it’s that time of year when even if you’re organized, your plans aren’t worth much because it’s impossible to get around town. The traffic is horrendous — at least by our standards. People from larger cities (Toronto, Montreal, etc.) scoff at the mere suggestion that we even have anything remotely comparable to traffic around here. Commuting 15 minutes to work in these parts is practically considered a hardship.

The holidays, however, bring out everyone who never seems to travel the rest of the year, especially to slower-than-slow drivers who make my blood pressure explode. Hey! It says 50 km/h! Step on it! You’re only doing 80! During the holidays, speed limits are merely suggestions. (Hmmm, maybe that would explain all those speeding tickets.)

And now with major retailers opening or undergoing major renovations, the traffic will be even worse as shoppers flock to see what all the fuss is about. Many will say they don’t care. I don’t believe them. They care — and they’re checking out all the new places to make their credit cards bleed red ink.

From now until Christmas, the stores will be busy no matter when you go. For me, that means I’ll be doing all my shopping at supper time or right before closing. Yeah, I’m going to be one of “those” people who arrive at the last minute to drive store staff up the wall as they look forward to locking up. Then I show up, mess up everything they just folded and arranged on the shelves and run out.

No, I really won’t do that. It drives me crazy when I see others do it. I won’t do it myself. You know those people — the ones who show up at the store, see it’s closing in three minutes and grab a shopping cart? One of these days, a stressed-out employee is going to snap, fold up the customer and shove them into the cart and roll it back out to the parking lot with a swift kick.

I don’t like buying presents too early. I’m paranoid the receiver won’t be able to return it if they don’t like it if the purchase date is way past 30 days. Then I wonder what I’ll do with that barrel of face cream for good old Great Aunt Mathilda if she kicks the bucket before Christmas? Will I be stuck with it? Should I jar it up and try to donate it to the food bank as mayonnaise? Or maybe start wearing it myself? Would Great Aunt Mathilda be offended if I asked for a medical report from her doctor before buying her a Christmas gift? It would be discourteous of her not to agree, considering her advanced age.

What if I wore it myself? Well, I can tell you one thing, I would expect compliments, let me tell you. “Why yes, I have done something with my face. Wait? What did you mean when you asked if I did it on purpose?”

Over the next few weeks, between a crazy busy fall in business and getting ready for the holidays, I’ll be lucky to even know my own name come Christmas Day. That’ll be me just sitting there in the corner of the living room on Christmas morning talking to myself and weeping quietly from exhaustion as mascara-stained tears roll down my beautiful satiny-soft cheeks from all that face cream that Great Aunt Mathilda couldn’t use after she fell off that rickety ladder trying to put the star on the tree. Not much use for face cream when you’re wrapped in bandages from head to toe.

Even with a glowing medical report from the doctor, sometimes we just can’t foresee holiday-season accidents like that. Falling off the ladder or the roof while putting up decorations. Choking on tinsel. Mistakenly eating a glass ornament made to look like candy. Well, at least it would give you a sparkling smile while you’re in the emergency room getting shards of shiny glass removed from your mouth by a giggling nurse.

Speaking of ending up at the hospital after eating Christmas treats, what’s up with those barley toys? Sure, they taste good, but they were not made for impatient people like me who try to chew them or bite off pieces after about five minutes. Those things are made of cement by demented candy makers! What kind of sickos are you, anyway? I’m surprised I have any teeth left.

Oh, I guess we’re all in the same boat over the holidays — all that running around trying to get the perfect gifts and then being too tired to go to church on Christmas Eve. Oh the irony! It almost makes me want to become an atheist. (Checks for lightning coming from heaven. Oh, I guess I’m safe for now. I guess God’s too busy throwing lightning at Toronto mayor Rob Ford.)

I say we all get in a group hug (Hey, buster, watch your hands!) and hang on for dear life until Christmas Eve at 5 p.m. when all the stores close and the craziness is over for a couple of days — that is, until Dec. 27 when the Boxing Day sales start, when we do even more damage to our credit cards as they scream “Nooooo!” as they’re swiped one more time.

Hmmm; atheism is starting to look awfully good right now.

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