Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Holiday Shopping Tips

I am definitely a little late in stating this, but the holiday season is in full swing. How do I know? I got my umpteenth newspaper advertising booklet with tips for an “enjoyable, easy, and enlightened” Christmas shopping experience. I get such a kick out of these tidbits of advice, not so much because they are amusing, but because I find it somewhat pathetic that any of us really needs these suggestions in such detailed form when paraphrases would suffice. Here’s what I mean:
Tip #1: Be a multi-channel shopper. Browse stores, catalogs, newspapers, and then conduct an online shopping search to find the item you want at the best price, in stock, and with shipping information. Gift buyers who visit sites like Shopzilla often find aggressively priced merchandise, and where that perfect gift is in stock vs. sold out.
Translation: Be a bargain hunter!
Tip #2: Shop at the times most convenient and least hectic. Stores never close when you shop online. You can shop 24/7/365 --- after you put the kids to bed, late at night, or before going to work.
Translation: Avoid crowds and shop online.
Tip #3: Save money on gas. Organize shopping outings to stores by neighborhood and fit in an errand or two if possible. Or, stay at home and do your shopping on your computer and skip the car trip all together.
Translation: Conserve money (and gas); shop online.
Tip #4: Know what you’re buying. If you want to buy a gift that you know little or nothing about, go to the experts to find the best product for your money. In addition to going to your local retail store and asking a wildly busy sales person, you can also go online to read consumer and expert reviews.
Translation: Do your homework before shopping.
Tip #5: Keep an eye on the calendar. As Christmas and Hanukkah approach, the streets, malls, and stores get more congested. Your stress level goes up a notch and products are harder to find. Avoid this stress! Shop early and often. But be sure to allow enough time for your gifts to be delivered.
Translation: Shop early and online.

Either way, detailed or paraphrased, the advice is the same today as it was when I was a kid:

Shop early. Believe it or not, this does not mean November. It means September or October. If you wait to begin your holiday shopping on Black Friday or Black Monday, you will be faced with sold out best choices, longer shipping times (because everyone else is shopping and shipping), and crowds both online and in the brick-and-mortar stores.

Shop smart. Know what you want to buy. Do your research before you ever set foot in the store or go online. Stick to your list whenever possible. Look for the best possible price and make sure you keep your receipts in case that “perfect” gift isn’t quite so “perfect.”

But above all, remember that your ability to enjoy the process of Christmas shopping is your attitude.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. --- Philippians 4:8

Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” --- Matthew 22:36-39

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