I am commercialism.

While I was being all Single Working Parent last week I decided consciously not to panic about Christmas. I usually do my shopping in November, so I can relax into the holiday season and focus on baking instead, but then I was thinking to myself such comforting things as there will be plenty of time in December and sometimes they change their minds and you have to return stuff anyway and there’s not that much shopping to do this year after all.

And then I went to the big box store shopping area near me last Saturday morning, and HOLY JESUS, THAT is why I do my shopping in November. What has come over the world? I was not aware that many people lived in CANADA, let alone within range of the Canadian Tire in western Ottawa.

I would like here to say that I am Above It All, and condemn the shoppers and the shopping, but the truth is I care, and care deeply, about getting my kids just the perfect thing for Christmas. I am commercialism. I own it. No one is getting any gift certificates for hugs or handmade sweaters over here. I MUST BUY THEM THINGS.

So this week I decided I better swing into high gear, and I got my lists together, and cleared it all with Sir Monkeypants, which means the gate has dropped and I’m off to the races. Yesterday I started at the Target, which had a particular LEGO set that the Captain wanted, on sale.

Here, an aside: we have a lot of LEGO. We have, quite possibly, ALL THE LEGO. So it was kind of painful to think about getting yet another LEGO set to add to the dozen bins of it we already own. But then I was thinking: we are very, very close to being out of toy range for the older two. Already when the Toys R Us flyer arrives, it’s full of dolls and action figures and tiny sports play sets that they have outgrown. This could be our very last year to get him an actual toy, and have him want it, and have him feel the thrill of opening something Christmas morning that isn’t just a gift card and being excited about that, so I decided to go for it.

And, an aside to the aside: when did you, if ever, move from thing/toy gifts to gift cards and cash? For our older nieces and nephews, we moved to gift cards around age 13, and then straight up cash around age 15. For our one niece I found I could still shop for some “thing” – makeup, purses, jewelry, or clothes – but for the boys in particular once they were out of the sports jersey stage I found them impossible to shop for, so it was video game gift cards for a few years before we went cash. You?

So! I went to Target to get this LEGO set, and they were ALL OUT. So then I went to the Toys R Us, and they were ALL OUT. Then I started to panic, and I ran to the WalMart and got the VERY LAST ONE (which they nicely price matched to the Target sale price). And again, I hate to admit it, but if I had been completely unable to get said LEGO set I would NOT have been all, “Oh, there are tons of other sets, I’ll just get one of those instead,” but rather, “CHRISTMAS IS RUINED.”

I had a very similar experience just today with a Barbie thing that the Little Miss wants, which they did not have at any of the first three stores I went to, and then I found ONE at the fourth store I went to, which I happily paid full price for and felt immense relief at scoring the exact thing my kid wants for Christmas morning. Because I AM COMMERCIALISM.

All this is to say that I have found new reason to shop early, and this is like a little note to my crass self that shopping in November is worth it for many reasons. Ready, set, go!

12 thoughts on “I am commercialism.

  1. You, my friend, are making me PANIC. First, I do not enjoy shopping EVER and especially not at Xmas but those kids of mine…argh. They WANT it ALL (but don’t get it all…ha). Thing is…when my mom asked the 9yo what he wanted for Xmas and he said Lego with tears in his eyes knowing that Mean Mom (that’s me!) will have a heart attack (since we are the family in the GTA that owns all the Lego) I had to look the other way and give her the ok. Go ahead. Give it to him. Ben’s reason is “she always gets me Lego” which is kind of a tradition now and Xmas is about tradition for us…so whom am I to say NO MORE LEGO? See? We are in a similar boat. And 9 is still child-ish…he is still a CHILD. Right? Besides, mom can’t take the tears in his eyes and soon everyone is crying…


    But if Ottawa is out of stuff then I better get my butt in gear and get that shopping done, right?


    PS did I mention we’re moving out in January for the reno? But they not only want presents, but also a tree with ALL THE TRIMMINGS?

    *crying in the corner with the boxes stacked to the ceiling*

  2. So far my niece and nephew are still little, but considering how much trouble I now have shopping for my 15- and 13-year-old children, I suspect I will switch to gift certificates around the 12/13 age, unless one or both are easier to buy for than expected (some good hobby or something). My parents decided to switch to gift cards at age 12 for birthdays: at Christmas they still like to get the kids a gift to unwrap, but at birthdays they give a certificate (or sometimes a variation on this, such as cash “to buy X,” or a roll of dollar coins ((unusual in the U.S.)) ).

  3. I have seven nieces and nephews; four are teenagers and three are in the under-six set. Up until last year, the older nieces and nephews had lists (thank god for my organized SIL) that had not only what they wanted, but the store at which to purchase it, size, and colour. Like, Old Navy, hoodie, men’s small, grey. PERFECT I CAN DO THAT ONLINE. But this year I started just giving gift cards at birthdays, and then this summer my nephew turned 16 and is saving for a car, so I started on cash…then this Christmas the four of them are all getting iTunes gift cards. Easy peasy.

  4. OMG! I am you! You are me! If I can’t get the kids what they ask Santa for (for as long as they still claim to believe), Christmas is ruined! Two years ago I was at Toys R Us on Christmas Eve because The Boy finally decided he wanted a drum set and put in his request with The Big Guy on the 23rd. Wrong on so many levels, I know, and I wish I were a better person, but I’m not…

  5. I HEARTILY ENDORSE the ‘last year we can give a gift that will get a huge smile’ justification. We got Angus an XBOX for his birthday one year on that basis, and his reaction – straight up gobsmacked joy – still makes me smile. Now I worry that their gift hauls are crooked because Eve is just so much easier to find funny, whimsical things for.

    We moved to gift cards for my niece (UnderArmour or Aeropostale) a couple of years ago when she was 12, I think. My nephew still loves Lego, so that’s easy. Angus asked for gift cards to local restaurants where he and his friends sometimes go for lunch now that they have that super-long semester lunch break, which was a helpful suggestion. Eve will be buried under a mountain of Tardis hats and hipster Redbubble t-shirts on christmas morning. I am commercialism! Partially supporting-the-arts hand-made commercialism!

  6. Oh I hear ya. I’m just commercialism + online shopping (with a sprinkling of Lee Valley Express Pickup). Because OMG I can’t handle that crazy. Although this year, somehow in the space of about 24 hours I came up with a couple of thought-over-$ gifts for DH that I’m terribly excited about (and managed to write down before I forgot them). I’m going to get a broken zipper replaced in his favourite jacket, from the startup he joined during the bubble. Collectors item, at least for him. And his favourite headphones have been hiding in a drawer for at least two years, because the foam had completely disintegrated. This year I should finally have time to crochet new ear pads and get the girls to whip-stitch them on. Never told him that was the plan, and quite confident he’s assumed they’re long gone by now. #squeeeee

  7. I’m the same…every year I tell myself that I won’t cave under the pressure of commercialism and then sure enough, I find my trunk full of “holiday stuff” that inevitably will only be used once or twice, then forgotten in a cupboard in the basement somewhere…I can’t believe how busy all the stores are already though! Was also in Target the other day and it was nuts. Can’t even imagine December. *shudder* Thanks for the inspiration…I’m getting it all done a.s.a.p.

  8. I feel your pain! I also feel very ambivalent. I love shopping, but in the past years I have been moving toward a minimalist lifestyle – which has made me very happy. I shop for Christmas anyway. And Lego is a big hit in my house too!

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