I have a longstanding tradition of shopping on Christmas Eve. It’s the one day a year where I can honestly say I like to shop. I’ve probably been doing it for thirty years now. I’m sure it started because I’m a natural procrastinator. It’s turned into something I look forward to every year, though.
What makes Christmas Eve shopping different than other shopping? Well, there are a few things. First, while it’s crowded, the crowds are full of my kind of people. All the high stress, type A folks finished their shopping weeks ago. People who wait until the last minute know what they’re getting into. It’s remarkably chill. Second, it has the right kind of pressure. It’s not the harried kind of must-get-it-before-its-gone pressure. It’s the I-have-six-hours-to-accomplish-this-task pressure. It’s almost like a timed game. Finally, there’s a kind of comradery among the Christmas Eve shoppers. People are friendly and helpful.
Sadly, Christmas Eve shopping is affected, like everything else, by technological and sociological changes. There are fewer physical stores to go to than there used to be, and they frequently no longer stock the same kind of variety as they used to. It’s just assumed that most shopping will be done online. Add COVID to the mix and there’s even more pressure to go online. This year and last year had the smallest Christmas Eve crowds I’ve ever seen. There was less interaction. It was very businesslike.
I’m going to continue my Christmas Eve shopping for as long as I can. Sure, I can get things online, but I’d miss the experience. Hopefully there are enough others like me to keep the stores open. My Christmases just won’t be the same without it.