(I have a confession – I adore Alison Kent. I do. She’s one of my favorite writers. She’s bold and fearless and she writes the kind of books I absolutely love. Her series are some of my all time favorites – Girl Gear, Men to Do(also featuring the amazing Jo Leigh, another fave) and her SG-5 books are all on my keeper shelves. IMO, she’s been a revolutionary in many ways in romance, writing books years before a trend hit and still doing it better than most who write it as a matter of course now. Her sex scenes are perfectly crafted – I just love her books)
I love the end of year holiday season, especially the cookies and candy, but I have to admit the commercialism of Christmas has turned me into a bit of a Grinch.
I don’t know about everyone else, but back in the day (yeah, WAY back then *g*) we went out and bought the gifts we wanted everyone to have. We didn’t check Amazon wish lists or ask folks for what they wanted because they’d seen an ad, or a friend had one, or whatever.
We didn’t have the constant barrage of emails and catalogs from retailers. We knew the people we were giving gifts to — family, co-workers, teachers, neighbors — and knew exactly what we wanted to give them because it fit who they were, not because a commercial told us they HAD to HAVE it to be cool. (Yeah, I really hate some commercials.)
I’m an online shopper, and I don’t for a minute miss the crowds on the roads or in parking lots and stores, but I also know it’s not the same as browsing, taking time, lingering. Loitering. *g* Deciding between this color tie or that, between one perfume or another. It seems no one has time for that sort of lazy casual shopping anymore. Instant gratification rules.
I don’t think life at any time has been simpler than any other. Every generation has crosses to bear. But times do change, and with change comes nostalgia for things we miss. Technology makes shopping — and gift wrapping — so easy. And I indulge with abandon. It saves time, and with free shipping and coupon codes, who can resist!?
I get not wanting to have to return ugly sweaters, or slippers in the wrong size, but gift cards just don’t offer the same element of Christmas cheer — and yet, I give them. And I guess I make up for it by baking more cookies than anyone can ever eat, and by turning my main room into Santa Central. *g* I collect Santas — ornaments, figurines, etc.. Everyone knows it and my collection grows each year.
One of my favorite parts of our family gift exchange is the unexpected. My husband started this after we were married, stuffing everyone’s stockings (because EVERYONE gets one; we keep blank ones to stuff and give to visitors) with some of the goofiest items. Wildly named hot sauce. Cans of soda in flavors no one has ever tasted. Meat thermometers. *g* Hats with lighted brims. Car battery charges.
My daughter-in-law started a similar tradition, packing unique bags with dollar items to make a set. An embroidered wash cloth with a throwaway towel shrink wrapped into a package the size of a card deck. Soap crayons. Bath pearls. Or similar kitchen packages. A bake mix with a cookie cutter and tiny little measuring cups. And she painstakingly wraps each piece.
We used to do cookie swaps at the day job, and ate ourselves sick while sharing recipes. And our Secret Santa gift exchanges were so much fun. One year I got several hand painted bookmarks. My gift giver knew me well.
What about you guys? Do you have any traditions that keep gift giving fresh and fun? Are you an online shopper, or do you love the malls, the boutiques, the big box stores?
I have a copy of a Harlequin anthology called CHRISTMAS IN HIS BED that includes my story KISS & TELL. I’ll give that to someone who comments – but will let Lauren do the drawing when she’s back!
P. S. I’m not a Black Friday shopper at all, but the husband and I did venture out this year to get something he wanted. It was a one store, one item trip, and I had my always trusty Blackberry and Kindle app, so I stood in the corner and read while he made his choice!
P.P.S. Click here to read the nitty gritty of The 12 Days of Alison Kent’s Christmas. I’m also holding a separate contest with some author friends and that one’s running through December 31.