The Lines of Exchange
Next to Black Friday, this is the worst day of the year to walk into a department store. People are already passing through the door dissatisfied and grumpy. The sales clerks are anticipating the rude consumer and everyone’s tempers start the day flared and ready to explode. Ironic that less than twenty-four hours after shouting that giving and love, as well as the sense of family, is what the season is all about, the human race shifts right back into “It’s all about what I want!” The lines at Customer Service will be longer than the checkout lanes and it will almost feel as if you’re awaiting a ride at Disney World with Grumpy. For many, this day will not end well.
I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of the gift exchange. We have to do it this year, but that’s not because the items received weren’t enjoyed. It’s because they were broken, missing pieces, or the wrong size. They won’t be exchanged for different merchandise, but rather, the proper item unbroken. I know many don’t agree with my philosophy, but as I see it, the person who handed me the Christmas present took the time to scour the quickly diminishing shelves, fighting the crazed shoppers just to buy that specific gift for me. I respect that effort and the gift means something more to me because of it.
Most stores offer gift receipts now, so that you can put it with the present and the recipient can return it without having to have the main receipt with everything else you bought. It’s a great idea, because you don’t want Aunt Martha to know you spent more on Aunt Gerturde. That might guarantee no present for you the following year. Whenever the sales clerk asks me if I want one, however, I always say, “No. They’re stuck with what I bought for them.”
“But, don’t you want them to be happy with the gift? Shouldn’t they be able to get what they like?”
Again I say, no. They had all year to tell me what they wanted. If they wasted all 364 days of idea giving opportunity, then their punishment is to suffer with whatever I picked out. They chose not to make it easy on me by dropping hints or making lists. They could have had the perfect gift to brighten their eyes Christmas morning, but no, they wanted to be stubborn and play the martyr with the gift giving.
“I don’t really want anything. I’m sure whatever you pick out for me will be just fine.”
Well, since they said it, they have to abide by it. They did say whatever I picked out, didn’t they? So a purple hippopotamus yard ornament should be just the thing. Perhaps a necklace made out of monkey fingers. It’s their fault. They didn’t give me a clue. I had to spend my time pacing the aisles, wracking my brain, hoping something will pop out at me as the perfect gift without any aid from them at all. Now, they want to tell me the gift did matter and I chose the wrong one? Bah Humbug. For that they get no gift receipt and have to hassle with the sales clerk to swap it out.
That’s why everyone is grumpy the day after Christmas. There are no gift receipts. The sales clerk didn’t get one, either, and now, they’re taking their frustrations out on those poor souls coming to them hoping for mercy for their shortsightedness of not telling people what they really wanted. A New Year’s resolution is made to be more thoughtful next year and avoid the after-Christmas rush. They’ll break it, though. I know it. Some resolutions are just traditional and spur of the moment flares of frustration. It’s okay with me. I’ll be nestled on my porch with a cigar and coffee, enjoying my pink sweater and crocodile tie.
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