This year we don’t have the funds to go crazy shopping for Christmas presents. Yes, I’m admitting that we have gone overboard before and many times! Maybe you’ve already decided that the Christmas chaos isn’t for you. After all, Christmas shouldn’t be about materialism but our focus should be on the reason for the season—Christ, the Lord. But that’s part of why we give to begin with, right? Giving is a way to show love and, if we do it right, to share Christ.
But is it necessary to get caught up in the shopping madness? Yesterday, I wanted to do just that—get caught up in the shopping and the crowds, but without the madness. Without spending the money. We live in the country and, to me, it’s not as festive as living in town where you can see the Christmas lights on the houses, or decorated trees in the front window.
I wanted to take the kids and get out of the house and go somewhere that Christmas lights would surround us. Where the air would be filled with good smells like cinnamon, hot chocolate, roasting coffee, baking cookies. So we set out to find that bit of Christmas spirit that maybe we’ve lost over the years. You know—the kind of thing that the boy is looking for in the Polar Express. That sense of fun and excitement that you somehow lose as you grow older.
We listened to Christmas music on the radio as we drove the thirty miles into town. Stopped at every interesting shop just to browse and enjoy. And the best part? There was no standing in a long line for our purchases, because we had none! I was free to leave when I was done simply looking. One of the best parts of the day happened when we stopped at a pet store (my husband always has to) and I did something completely out of the ordinary.
I held a puppy.
My favorite dogs are Siberian huskies, and wouldn’t you know it, there was a blue-eyed cutie-pie husky in the window. The shop had lots of puppies, more than usual, and I’m guessing that was for Christmas. I never go into the pet shop with the family because I’m allergic to animals to begin with but I went in and my heart tripped when I saw this puppy. I mean. I had that emotional connection. But no way could we afford a puppy and I shouldn’t hold it. I walked around the store looking at the birds and the rodents and the fish with the family, and then broke away and finally found myself in a private cubicle, playing with the husky. And then. . . I walked away. Other families also played with the puppy and I had a feeling—a very strong feeling—this cutie would find a loving home soon.
Yesterday was a nice day with the family, and we enjoyed our time out in the holiday shopping madness without spending a dime, and I realized we’d just gone window shopping.
1) Mentally prepare yourself. Make a decision that you’re not hitting the malls to buy anything and give yourself the freedom to look without making the purchase, or without feeling guilty because you can’t.
2) Enjoy that moment when you walk out of the store knowing that you didn’t have to stand in the grueling, long line of people waiting to pay for their items.
3) Make sure your stops will include stores you enjoy most, and maybe a few you’ve never stepped inside. One of my favorite stores is a candy and gourmet food store and I love the wonderful scents of chocolate and roasting coffee while I’m browsing.
4) Relax. You’re not in a rush, remember? You aren’t stressing to get everything on your list because you don’t have a list. Drive friendly and slowly between locations and listen to the music and look at the lights.
5) Bring a thermos of hot cocoa or apple cider or both and drink up while you’re enjoy Christmas lights and decorations.
6) If you’re an animal lover, hit a pet store and hold a puppy, a kitten, a ferret, whatever you prefer, for a few minutes. The kids will love it and it will make your heart smile.
7) But most of all keep that Christmas joy in your heart—the reason for the season—and smile and share it with others who have lost it during their shopping madness.
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