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Column: Why shopping holidays just aren't for me
Shannon Casas high res
Shannon Casas

There’s Black Friday that now starts on Thursday. And Small Business Saturday. And Cyber Monday. And Giving Tuesday. I guess I should be glad they skipped Sunday, whoever they are. 

But I’d prefer they not tell me when to do what with my money. I know there’s some great deals out there. We could all save so much money on things we don’t need. 

Cyber Monday is up next. I could buy an Amazon Echo for cheap. Amazon Echo is the already cheaper version of Amazon Alexa, the virtual assistant that answers your questions and helps you out — or spies on all your conversations, depending on who you ask.

I could get a Ring for cheap, the doorbell that spies on people on your front porch, like those people delivering all the things you bought on Cyber Monday.

And of course there’s the TVs and the cellphones and the headphones and the computers and the cameras and the gaming systems that are all on sale, too. 

My grandpa likes to tell stories of what he used to get for Christmas as a child — maybe a small toy and some homemade candy.

That didn’t stop him from buying a computer and TV and cellphone later in life, but perhaps it helped him better understand the proper priority of those gadgets — as in, life won’t end if he doesn’t get a new cellphone for Christmas.

The Christmas morning I remember best is when we got cereal for Christmas — the name brand kind with all the sugar. I don’t know what that box of cereal cost circa 1991, but it was cheap, and it probably came with a toy inside, too.

It’s not that I eschew all the gadgets; I’ve got my share of them. I just don’t want to shop for a million things with all the other people shopping for a million things. And I don’t need the latest cellphone or a gadget that listens to me.

And I don’t want people to expect me to buy a million things, either.

If you’ve ever heard of the five love languages, by now you can guess that gift giving isn’t my love language. In fact, my husband and I hardly exchange gifts at all. I didn’t get him anything for his birthday last week. He likely won’t get me anything for mine either. I might get him a thing or two for Christmas. Or not.

If you haven’t heard of the five love languages, here’s the rundown: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. The theory goes that you’re more fluent in one of those five languages than the others.

In fact, I’m rather bad at receiving gifts. My immediate family can usually get me something I’ll like, but it’s also possible they’ll immediately know I didn’t like it. 

I do actually enjoy finding the right gift for someone. But I do not enjoy shopping with a deadline and a list.

Instead, I’ve begun buying gifts sometimes months in advance. See the perfect thing for my sister and brother-in-law at a shop in North Carolina that I visited in July? Yep, that’s going in the Christmas pile.

Sister sends me a link to what she wants on Amazon? Nope. I’m not buying it. Maybe I just don’t like being told what to do.

One day, these kids in my house are going to start asking Santa for gadgets.

Maybe then I’ll be ready to pounce on those Cyber Monday deals. Then again, I might just tell them Santa’s elves don’t make that.

Shannon Casas is editor in chief of The Times and a foster parent. You can hear her most weeks on the Inside The Times podcast on iTunes or Google Play.

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