Family Practice: Christmas on layawayWritten by Shannon Szyperski | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Every year about this time I make myself the same promise: I will get my Christmas preparations done early and spend the rest of the season making the most wonderful time of the year actually seem wonderful. I used to think that I had to wait at least until Black Friday to start gathering gifts and making out cards. However, after years of lumbering through Christmas day on two or three hours of sleep due to Christmas Eve loose-end tying, I have realized that it may be acceptable to start the holiday season as soon as the filled Halloween buckets hit the highest kitchen shelf.
By Thanksgiving, I am ready to put up the tree, make some hot cocoa, watch every holiday movie ever made and completely immerse myself and my family in all things Christmas. Admittedly, this hasn’t actually happened in the last 12 years, but I keep dreaming the dream nonetheless. Starting to prepare after the turkey has been carved just doesn’t seem to leave enough time to get it all done. Fortunately, U.S. retailers agree and are planning their sales accordingly.
I discovered the curtains that I had disgustedly turned my back on at $60 a panel were caught up in an early November Christmas-is-coming half off sale at $29.99, and I promptly even found a $10 off of $25 printable coupon floating around cyber world. By my calculations, if my husband, Mike, and I went in with two coupons and each bought one of the panels, we could walk away with the $120 pair for $39.98 plus tax. Not too shabby.
I actually didn’t want to start off my holiday shopping with a curtain gift to our house, but the vertical blinds that have graced our sliding door since before we moved in have reached a lowly state. Each twist of the wand seems to send at least one or two of the temperamental slats careening not-so-gently to the floor. If it were up to me, each of the cracked floor dwellers would have found a permanent home violently tucked into the nearest trash can, eventually leaving our back door looking like the top floor of a hockey player’s grin. For some reason, however, my husband has insisted on carefully repairing each slat with masking tape and returning it to its original spot no matter how many times each one tries to run away from home.
Partially due to an already-bustling autumn and partially due to sheer procrastination, we ended up loading our children into the van about 7:30 p.m. on a school night to slide in under the curtain sale wire. With the end of daylight savings time knocking all three kids out before we even pulled into the store parking lot, I took the first purchasing shift while Mike did the parking lot drive-around. As I nestled into the drapery section, it quickly became obvious that the store’s sale orchestraters were a step ahead of me. The half-off online sale was a “buy one get one for 99 cents” sale in store, thus rendering our one coupon per customer plan no better than the $10 off of $50 online coupon I could have used from the comfort of my own home. To add insult to injury, the curtains I had come for were not even in stock.
Refusing to pass up the peaceful shopping opportunity three sleeping kids offer and go home empty-handed, Mike did another parking lot drive-around while I attempted to secure the most discounted and desired pre-season sale toys. After struggling to find re-located aisles and already-out-of-stock items, I managed to gather enough in-stock items to fill in the space from my fingertips up to my chin.
Short just over a dollar to qualify for my $10 gift card with $35 purchase, I had to quickly grab an inexpensive item to take my total into bonus territory. When I returned to finally check out, I ended up stuck in the all-too-familiar waiting-for-assistance vacuum. While I stood wondering how good it would feel just to momentarily lay my head on the counter, my cell phone rang with my awake, out-her-mind toddler screaming on the other end. After taking a minute to reconcile the amount of time I thought I had left to wait for my cashier with the amount of time I thought my husband could endure the confined-space crying, I made an out-of-character run for the door.
Being someone who would dutifully return a candy bar I had changed my mind about to the opposite corner of any size store, I’m still cringing over who had to put back my would-be purchase. More regrettable is a much-needed Christmas shopping kick-start being put on layaway. I’m headed for mid-November without any presents under my belt, and it’s already beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
Shannon and her husband Michael are raising three children in Sylvania. E-mail her at email@example.com.