It’s Christmas Eve and I’m completely finished.  All the shopping is done.  All the wrapping is done.  I finished two days ago.  There’s nothing left to do but to put out the milk and cookies and wait for Santa to do his thing.  The funny thing is, I’m kind of bummed about it.

Generally, I hate shopping.  As a result, I have always procrastinated at Christmas time.  It had become something of a tradition for me to do the bulk of my shopping on Christmas Eve.  It was the one day a year where I actually had fun shopping.

All of my fellow shoppers were like me, people who hate shopping and put it off until the last minute.  There was a sense of comradery.  I would strike up conversations with other shoppers, which is so out of character for me, but Christmas Eve is special.  They would go something like this:

Total stranger: “Do you think my wife would like this?”

Me: “I’ve never met your wife, but if she’s anything like me, she’ll love it.  Do you think my nephew would like this?”

Total stranger: “How old is he?”

Me: “Six.”

Total stranger: “My kid’s seven and he’d rather have that.”

Me: “Thanks.  Merry Christmas.”

It was always very pleasant and very friendly.

The world has changed, though.  I no longer keep my Christmas Eve tradition.  Old fashioned retail is dying.  I did most of my shopping online this year.  That forced me to do it early so it would ship on time.  The few times I did go out to a store, it was just dull.  I never had any trouble finding a parking space.  I was never even in a line more than two deep.  I was just in and out and done.

I guess I’m sad because it feels like some of the magic has gone out of Christmas.  There used to be a real element of chance in Christmas shopping.  If the store didn’t have it, you were out of luck.  Then you had to get creative.  It was rewarding when you found the perfect gift.  Now it’s very ho hum.  If you don’t get the perfect gift, there’s something wrong with you.  I miss the sense of adventure and risk.  Some of the best gifts I ever gave weren’t what I had been looking for.  I used to love it when the perfect gift jumped off the shelf into my arms.  I miss it.  I guess I’ll need to find a new Christmas Eve tradition.

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