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Gazzolo: Christmas dreams can come true, even late

Last Modified: Monday, December 24, 2012 11:05 AM

By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

’Twas the night before Christmas and many in the mall were scurrying around for the final gift of them all.

It might not be the start to any of your holiday traditions, but for more than a few of us, it is in that moment when the Christmas spirit finally hits us.

For some, the season to be jolly is when the stores are just about empty and the last and final discounts have been posted.

That is my holiday tradition.

Sure, I have had a list, checked it twice and, yes, shopping early would be nice. It would also be a pain.

Long lines, crowded parking lots, screaming kids.

And this is the most wonderful time of the year?

Don’t get me wrong, there is no bah humbug in me. I love Christmas, from the Charlie Brown special to all those songs that lift one’s spirit.

It’s the shopping that gets me down.

So many gifts bought, wrapped and broken all within a month. So many people going into debt just for the sake of giving.

Yes, I give gifts, even get a few smiles from them. I just like waiting until the last minute to buy them.

That’s the holiday shopping madness to me.

Maybe it’s the fact that I don’t like to shop at all, more often than not wandering over to watch the game on television in the department store when the Mrs. asks, “Do you think this would look good on me?”

Of course, there is no winning answer so the right play for me is to duck out of the line of fire.

Now the Mrs. loves the shopping, taking the daughters and roaming the stores for the right gift to the right person. Like many of her kind, she has found the sport in shopping, even proclaiming it a fun and successful event when nothing was purchased.

I call that a win-win for both of us.

My shopping takes up far less time.

When I like to go, those Christmas tunes on the store’s speakers are replaced with the countdown to the doors closing and the end of a holiday buying spree.

There is joy in the game as I play beat the clock. As minutes turn to seconds and guards begin to turn those keys to the closed position, some may panic in their choices. I, however, find comfort in knowing that it’s under pressure when winning decisions are made.

Those sweaters with reindeers on them look a lot better at closing time. And there is no better stocking stuffier than those five-packs of combs, even if you forgot and wrapped them for old, bald Uncle Joe.

But what I really like while shopping to beat the buzzer is seeing the utter panic on the faces of those rookie last-minuters.

They sweep their way through the aisles, frantically looking up and down for the one gift they forgot, or just can’t find.

Each one of them have their own tale of how the time just got away from them. Too busy at work or waiting on a check.

There are a million stories in the near-naked mall; mine is simple. I just like waiting.

With a wife and three daughters, maybe I’m just used to drama. Or maybe I just like the rush of seeing the clock wind down and at the last second plucking the winning gift from somebody’s else’s cart just before the doors slam shut.

At my age it is the closest I will ever get to hitting the winning shot at the buzzer.

Yes, every year I start by saying it will be different this time, but it never is. I might pick up a small gift or two while standing in line to buy gas, but that’s not really shopping.

For me, and from others I’ll see on Dec. 24 at about 5 p.m., there is no Black Friday. To us, it’s just another countdown to closing that makes our holiday season complete.

•••

Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at jgazzolo@americanpress.com

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