“The mission is Christmas. We shall take no prisoners. Ready? Set? SPEND!”

Pentagon City Mall, December 8, 2004Having worked in retail for more than a year now, there’s nothing like the Christmas season to remind me of why retail is not something I want to do forever. Let me just say that I, while shopping myself, am someone who so hates dealing with a bunch of crabby shoppers that I will find the most painless way to get what I need, even if it means paying full price. Still, I’m just amazed when I see crowds of shoppers streaming into stores from the day after Thanksgiving through to Christmas Eve, buying up everything in sight, at places such as my favorite four-story shopping mall, Pentagon City, seen here at right dressed up in Christmas finery. And the amount of last-minute shoppers also amazes me. It’s a madhouse on Christmas Eve, with everyone turning the place upside down looking for the perfect gift, until time runs out and the store closes. Of course, last-minute shopping is by no means a modern concept. Back at the original Christmas, we learned that men are poor shoppers. Not only did the Three Wise Men wait until the last minute to get some thing for the baby Jesus, but they also brought something totally useless for the baby Jesus. And these people call themselves wise men. Aside from the gold, they brought frankincense and myrrh. For those of you who haven’t looked to find out what those things are, let me enlighten you. Frankincense and myrrh are both aromatic gum resins obtained from African and Asian trees and are used as incense as well as in perfumes. Now let’s think about this for a moment. We’re giving gifts for a new baby. And you bring scented goop. Not a cradle. Not diapers. Not even one of those diaper-genie things. They bring myrrh. When Mary and Joseph got home following the census, Mary probably stuck it in the closet. Which is about what most people do with the gifts I buy them. If they were really wise men, they should do what I did. Gift cards! The truly wise among wise men would have gone to whatever Wal-Mart type of operation existed back then and gotten some gift cards. Still, the spirit of Christmas lives on, as we give gifts, even if the gift itself is a bit useless and will spend the majority of its time in the bottom of the closet. And shop we will, until they kick us out.

Date posted: December 14, 2004