For the past decade or so I have enjoyed the Christmas giving season from the comfort of a living room recliner, combing listlessly through endless Amazon screens, hunting for the exact whatchamacallit or doodad that would light my wife's world with joy. It was all at my fingertips. Purchasing Christmas gifts for the Wife of my Eternities had been reduced to a few solitary hours of internet shopping in front of “Walker Texas Ranger” reruns- it's a great way to keep her out of the room. For many years I would have packages shipped to a neighbor's house, then persuade them to tease my wife about gifts that had arrived but could not be opened until December 25th. However, in mid-November of this year, after so many years of keeping up with the Jetsons via a most modern and efficient couch-bound Christmas shopping routine, I began to notice that something was missing. Something important.
It took me awhile to realize that I yearned for an old-fashioned Christmas. When I was a kid, at the dawn of color television, way before computers and emails and internets and Amazon Primes, Mom and Dad would take us to the mall for a day where we would wander in and out of storefronts with child-eyed wonder (after all, we were children!) and spend our piggy banks bursting with allowance and babysitting booty buying bright sparkly things for our brothers and sisters. Some form of this sacred tradition continued into the early years of married life, when I would tease my wife by taking a lonely afternoon mall trip shopping. But somewhere along the way, with advancements in modern communication, the magic of this moment had been lost. And I knew how to get it back. Maybe, just maybe, contrary to the Grinch's refrain, this year Christmas WOULD come from a store!
This year, I shut the lid to my laptop and grabbed the keys to my second-hand car. I gave my sweet companion a cheap cover reason to leave and darted out to the mall. This year, as in days of yore, I would buy ALL my wife's presents at the mall. And I did.
The magic returned. The thrill of the hunt was intoxicating. I found pure joy in merging with throngs of other displaced fathers and husbands uncomfortably wandering in and out of climate-controlled boutiques in the quest for items on my wife's Christmas list. I took well-deserved breaks to eat a soft pretzel and lust over high-priced gourmet chocolates at a seasonal kiosk. By the end of the day I had bags full of presents to give away and fully satisfied nostalgic senescence, a situation somewhat similar to a jolly bearded man in bright red suit I was well-acquainted with as a child. Christmas is back!