Archive for Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Changing Lanes: Trying to capture Christmas spirit

December 30, 2008

There’s been a hint of Scrooge in my holiday preparations this year.

I’m not sure why, as I’m usually pretty into the holiday spirit. Granted, I’m not Star-102-let’s-start-playing-Christmas-music-before-Halloween into it, but I’m a firm believer that each holiday should have its time. I know Thanksgiving is just a month before Christmas, but it seems to be lost in the shuffle — especially in retail land.

As I’ve done the last few years, I dress up as Santa Claus for a handful of gigs and am now listening to Star 102. And, shortly after Thanksgiving, I put up the Christmas tree and the winter village. However, for many days, they were a rather sorry display as I put the ornaments on the tree just a few days ago and need to obtain some more extension cords for the winter village to light up and be fully operational.

I know, Christmas is almost here and my decorations won’t be glowing for very long.

Of course, I normally don’t take the decorations down until Jan. 6, which is the Epiphany (what some of my decorations, such as a Chicago Cubs baseball ornament, have to do with the holiday that celebrates the Magi visiting the infant Jesus, I’m not really sure. But if anyone needs some divine intervention, it would be my Cubbies). Sure, it may also be an excuse to not take down the decorations quite as early, but I’m cool with it.

This yuletide procrastination has seeped into my gift hunting. I’ve been wondering what the absolute last day it is to mail off presents so they reach their destinations in time for Christmas. Also, just purchasing gift cards seems like a pretty great idea. Yes, it might not seem as thoughtful as hunting for that perfect gift, but this year, I feel time has flown faster than usual.

Don’t get my wrong, I have the ability to find the perfect gift.

For Hanukkah last year, I found former Mirror sports editor Eric Sorrentino a welcome mat that read: “Shalom Y’all.” Eric, by the way, is Jewish and from Texas.

And it’s not that I haven’t been trying to find gifts from the heart.

A store in Manhattan had banners made of felt that displayed mascots through the years of various sports teams. I had my eye during a previous visit to the store on a St. Louis Cardinals banner. My dad was a big Cardinals fan, and, in his memory, my mom collects everything and everything to do with cardinals.

Unfortunately, the last one was sold 40 minutes before I arrived, according to the owner.

So, with Plan A no longer a go, I was contemplating Plan B — a Jayhawk banner, which always is a great option. I asked the owner about one on display and he told me he had plenty of those wrapped in plastic on the floor behind the counter if I wanted one.

Another customer, walking through, grumbled that on the floor is where Jayhawk memorabilia belonged.

“National champions do not belong on the floor,” I quickly responded.

The K-State customer apparently didn’t hear me, because he did not have a rebuttal.

The owner, meanwhile, asked how many national championships K-State had and then made a “zero” with his hand.

Now this guy was a smart retailer. He might have more contempt for the Kansas Jayhawks than anyone else, but he was showing that this prospective buyer was right.

Well, I opted to hold off on the banner and search for the perfect gift elsewhere, but it certainly was a great store to keep in mind for gift ideas in the future.

In the end, though, the only time Christmas spirit truly is needed is when you’re in the company of friends and loved ones at those hokey “ugly Christmas sweater parties” or the like. And more importantly, when you’re with those friends and family come Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

I’m pretty sure my case of the Scrooges will be cleared up when I hear those wonderful Christmas hymns during Christmas Eve Mass and I’m spending time with family Christmas Day.


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