Saturday, November 29, 2008

Shopping & Me

A little history on my relationship with shopping:
Up until the end of high school, I didn't do much of it. I ran errands for my mom and shopped for presents or clothes when I needed to, but for the most part it was not on my list of extracurricular activities (which, for a teenage girl was a little unusual) It's not that I didn't enjoy it. A trip to the mall every once and a while was an extra special treat... something done with my mom or with my friends. But what made those trips exciting was that they didn't happen every day. They were special.

A little history on my gift-giving skills:
I had them. haha. I've always had some major gift-giving skills. Not only for birthdays and Christmas, but for those times in between to make someone feel good. One of my top love languages (my top 3 --gifts, affirmation, and quality time-- tend to compete... so I consider them tied) is gift giving. I have a knack for paying attention to others' wants, needs, and feelings and I tend to show love by filling those wants and needs according to their feelings. I absolutely love buying presents for people. Especailly little things for no reason. The dollar section at Target is one of my favorites for these occasions. It's how I show love.

Now it gets tricky:
When I came to college, my relationship with shopping slowly began to shift. I don't know if it was the fact that I was on my own & doing all of my own shopping or if it had to do more with the depression I experienced during my freshmen year of school; whatever the reason, I began making more and more frequent trips to the store. It started out just at Wal-mart. I needed a few groceries or toiletry items every now and then. But since I was at Wal-mart, it didn't hurt to go look at the books and movies. Every now and then I would treat myself to something little... a new novel, some fun pens, a good cd... and it cheered me up. I came away with a fulfilling sense of gratification.

Little by little I became addicted to this instant gratification. I wouldn't necessarily have to buy something for myself -- or buy something at all -- to achieve this satisfaction. I enjoyed the outlet of walking around, seeing the new trends, the purchase possibilities, and the atmosphere of everything. And I'm now noticing that the more and more available stores became, the more likely and more frequently I would shop. For example, during my freshmen year of college, the closest Target, Kohl's, Old Navy, etc. was in Pflugerville. So I would only venture the trip when I really had a reason. Soon, though, Wolf Ranch was built in Georgetown and all of those stores became much more convenient to go to. I found myself making more frequent (but also much quicker) trips.

The analysis:
So you can kind of see where I am now. I love shopping. I love going by myself if I am looking for presents for people or if I just feel like escaping all of the pressures of life and just walking around for a while. I love going with friends for quality time. I love a trip to the store for any reason, really! And let me make it clear that I am not frivolously spending money... I don't have to spend a dime to enjoy myself shopping. Of course, since my relationship with shopping became more serious, I have indeed been spending more money. But I have also been making more money and I have been given more responsibilities (mom & dad don't pay for anything anymore)

So anyway, yesterday was Black Friday... most likely the busiest shopping day of the year. I'm not one to get up at the crack of dawn and shop all day or anything. In fact, the whole idea of Black Friday nauseates me a little bit. But I do have to admit that there are some pretty good deals out there this weekend after Thanksgiving. So last night, since Brad had to work, I thought I would go check and see what kind of steals were out there. Plus, I needed a new pair of pants for work. Luckily, the shopping craze had pretty much ended by the time I started (around 6 pm). I got a lot of Christmas shopping done and even got a few new things for myself to wear to work. Altogether it was a pretty fun evening. I love the atmosphere as the Christmas season kicks off.

In the middle of the evening a clip from How the Grinch Stole Christmas came on the radio. It said:
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"
This got me thinking. I know in my heart that Christmas is not about things or presents or even people. It's about God, His Love, and His Gift of Jesus. And I know that our culture has made it easy to forget about that. I've learned that shopping, like many other hobbies and interests, can become dangerous once they begin shifting our focus off of God and onto themselves. When our relationship with God is hindered by something, that something is sin. I'm not the greatest at distinguishing when that shift happens in myself, and especially when it happens in someone else. So I can't point my finger at a person and claim they have misplaced the focus of Christmas. Only God knows that. But I feel like it is safe to say that society as a whole has lost focus.

So I'm not sure why I'm so caught up on this. I don't feel like I've been convicted. God did bring all of this to my attention, but I haven't quite figured out why. Maybe so that I'm cautious... maybe just as a reminder... maybe so that I can remind others. I don't know. But I can't help wondering -- even if shopping for me at Christmastime is nothing but good (buying things for others to show them my love, and, through that, God's love), could I still be participating in, and therefore encouraging, society's misplaced focus? And if so, does that make me a hypocrite? I don't really know!

1 comment:

  1. very analytical and well expressed. it almost makes me want to go shopping....notice i said almost....