Friday, November 27, 2009

Knowledge November - Day 28 - Shiteous Shopping

Unlike most women I know, I hate shopping. Especially clothes or shoes for me.

There's only so much jewellery you can wear in 'real life'. Big rings get clumps of soap caught in the claws holding the stone and dangly earrings is like having your own self-serve torture treatment as they grab at your hair and dong off the sides of your jaw. Jeans, once the perfect pair is found, last for years and get better as they get older and the three dresses I currently own have each been bought for a special occasion and only worn for that occasion.

Thousands of much better bloggers and writers have written of the horrors and time-wasting associated with trying on clothes in shops and changing rooms. The queues; being told you have one garment too many; the terror of a size too small but no-one to run in and find the right fit; the three-way mirrors showing your thighs in triple-dimpled glory and the single hook that's supposed to fit three jackets, your winter coat, four shirts and a skirt as well as your handbag on it without falling to the floor and landed in a puddle of spilled red slurpee syrup. That's all I'll say on the matter.
Instead, my anti-change room strategy is to actively embrace PayPal, e-bay, online stores and mail order brochures. I know my size and what styles suit me and am happy to select what I need when I need it. ("A black top, Kath? Now there's a surprise" laughs Love Chunks).

My mother, on the other hand, adores shopping and browsing and Sapphire has clearly inherited this trait.

I love spending time with both or either of them at this activity as long as there's no rush to find that perfect gift, or outfit, or kitchen utensil but we can chat, linger, look at stuff for no compelling reason and stop for (good coffee), cake and lunch.

It is then that I find gifts for my loved ones - the book for LC, the tops for Sapph, the hilarious game for a brother, the gorgeous bangles for a sister-in-law, the funky scarf for a friend, the bright-and-busy pressies for Sapphire's birthday party buddies and the cards that make you laugh out loud at their cheeky brilliance. They may be found in January or June and will be carefully hidden away in my secret little gift cupboards, ready for wrapping in December.

When the teacher at Sunday School would say, 'Giving is much better than receiving' this was an impossible thing for a six year old to imagine.

But she was right. Sure, she wasn't right about 'Pray to God and he'll give you what you ask for' because there was NO tin of Big Sister self-saucing chocolate pudding on my window-sill the following morning (I didn't risk asking for an elephant or house of gold because I thought I should consider his work-load and start modestly), but I do get a tiny little buzz of happiness when I think, "Yes. Dad will love this 'Sometimes I wake up grumpy; Other days I just let her sleep in' barbeque apron," or "Dare I risk buying Rob another book when he's proudly admitted to not reading anything other than the newspaper and TV guide since 1985?"

And yet I've also found that giving to a charity and saying to someone that 'I've donated the money I would have spent finding you a special gift so that a family in Rwanda can own three chickens' doesn't quite cut it. It's a fantastic idea to donate; don't get me wrong, but in this society there's still something pretty damn nice about receiving a gorgeous gift that someone has specifically found for you, even if it's small.

So I do donate to charities and feel good about it and don't bother with Christmas cards - all that writing, enviro-catastrophic waste of thin cardboard and cost of postage stamps easily adds up to another donation that saves 100 friends having to pick their stupid, meaningless, mass-produced 'look how many friends I've got, aren't I popular' tacky cards up off the mantelpiece every time somebody opens the door and enters the room.
Family get gifts, but ones that I've carefully thought about and chosen, not just a voucher or a slip of paper saying, 'There's a goat in the Philippines making a family of eight very happy right now' when it really means, 'Your loved one couldn't be arsed getting you a gift so they made an online donation - which we do appreciate and think is great, as we're sure that you do too, but your beloved then just tore this strip off the bottom of the tax deductible receipt we sent and thinks that it excuses them from having to put any thought into you at all.'

I've learned that we need to do both - give to people in need and give to the family and friends we love, no matter how small the present. A handmade card from Sapphire is cherished by me because she devoted time to planning it and making it. And she put her weeks' pocket money into the huge 'Guide Dogs for the Blind' money box at the supermarket that week.


the projectivist said...

I hate shopping too. If i could just order everything online i would. I think that because I work in retail, shopping feels too much like being at work. I like my job, but I need a rest from it. Shopping is a leisure activity, a pleasure for so many people. Luckily. Otherwise I wouldn't have a job!

I'm with you Kath. It's not how much money someone spends, but how much time and thought they've put into my gift that I love. Those are always the best lines of gifts.

the projectivist said...

Damn you predictive text!

I meant KINDS not lines! Sigh. I need coffee.

Cat J B said...

I too loathe shopping. I practically wait till my clothes are falling off me before I'll hit the clothes stores and do the rounds. Speaking of which, I'm going this arvo to our local mall, which happens to be the largest in Aus to try and find some clothing that doesn't offend my sensibilities and I'm dreading every moment of it. I'm a bit leery of buying my clothes online, but happily buy the kids clothes there, and much as I dislike paypal for the chunk they take when I sell something, I do enjoy the convenience.

Sigh, it's only 4 weeks to Christmas, how did that creep up so soon?

Kath Lockett said...

LC and Sapphire are at our local shopping centre right now - I've piked out because I have a sore throat and achey ears; plus there's no clothes or anything I need.

I just did read in the Age though, that the refurbished David Jones in Bourke Street Mall is having its grand opening today and that thousands are expected to flock. Why???

ashleigh said...

You must be 1/2 bloke. Blokes hate shopping, unless it's in a hardware store. I can spend hours there and come home with 3 power tools and plant holder that we didn't need.

There was a time that I used to visit the local hardware store every weekend. SWMBO was convinced I has having it orf with one of the check out chicks. Each trip was preceded by my loudly proclaiming the need to go and get some screws. I really don't know why she thought what she did.

However, as both The Lady Of The House and I have found, buying on-line can be a bit hit-n-miss. Size x varies especially in clothes. Even buying jeans - if I can't try em on, I'm not interested. The size on the label is a GUIDE, not a user manual. Of course, I haven't changed size or shape in years. Years, I tells ya.

River said...

*hangs head in shame* I'm a gift voucher giver. I do this every year for my adult children for a couple of reasons. 1) I have poor taste when it comes to choosing gifts, 2) they can then choose something they'll actually like. For the grandchildren, I bought proper gifts when they were smaller, and this year I've bought small gifts and I have gift vouchers to go with them. So I feel slightly better, because I love giving a gift that can be unwrapped.

Baino said...

I'd probably like shopping more if they had my size and I had cash in my wallet but I dread it and of course, I'm nowhere near as organised as you and have only 3 of my 16 Christmas pressies ready to put under the tree! I have no idea what I'm going to get people this Christmas but it will be Thrifty. The Make A Wish foundation is my charity of choice these days. Although one year, my brother gave everyone a cheque for specific charities relating to our flaws, very rude actually.

franzy said...

I read an article about those "Give a pig for Xmas" charities and apparently they keep it pretty quite, but they don't actually give pigs, otherwise the third world would be overrun by cute livestock and still have no running water or functioning toilets.

I love shopping. But only for other people. If it's me, I tend to just default to: I don't need it. It's really annoying when I just want to imbibe a little capitalist excess ...