Last Minute Shopping?

The week of the last minute deal is upon us, all decked out with holly jolly tinkling bells! Can’t you just feel the excitement in that guy down the street trying to pass off his 4000 flashing lights and boom box as a high tech Christmas extravaganza for the whole neighborhood? Or maybe you caught it’s whiff in the lady that just snatched the last almost passable sweater virtually from your grasp?

I once had a year where I proudly refused to buy any Christmas presents for anyone until the final week before the day. It was amazing. Well, not so much amazing, but that’s not the point, now is it? (It’s not, I promise.) I’ve noticed a couple different kinds of last minute shoppers out there:

  • Oh, Crap. It’s Christmas Already?”You see these guys, who’ve been diligently working to put food on the table all year long zipping around the mall like hummingbirds sucking all the tinsel tinged nectar the Buckle and Bath & Body Works have to offer. The poor guy had no idea Christmas was so close. Wasn’t there supposed to be snow or something? Why didn’t anyone tell me? Do this guy a favor next November and give him a heads up, alright…
  • “Gotta Keep it Even” This is the shopper who carefully tracks each expenditure. She may be marking a spreadsheet to make sure each grandkid gets the same amount of stuff, but today’s savvy Grams will be tapping away on Numbers on the new iPad she bought herself on Cyber Monday. Either way, she’s made her list and she’s checking it twice to make sure Jenny and Bobby and Brooke and Stan all get their equal share. (Lincoln gets a bonus because he was such a good boy this year he’s always been grandma’s favorite little snow shoveling brown noser – but don’t tell the cousins.)
  • “Mama Wants a New Pair of Shoes” This isn’t really about shoes. It’s about the new dad giddiness, which is unmatched outside outside the 6th Grade cheer squad. See, when you become a dad for the first time, you suddenly realize your wife is a mom. As a mom, now, she’s entitled to some special perks… a secret stash of chocolate, the freedom to sleep at will whenever 5 uninterrupted minutes can be strung together (and you WILL string them together!), simple things like that… But on top of all that, you realize that “Mom” needs a present from little Jack. But little Jack, himself, was this year’s Easter Egg, so he’s all of about 3 days old now and couldn’t possibly get mom a gift on his own, so Dad wanders around trying to figure out just what a kid in a milk induced coma would buy the love of his lactic life. New Dads, trust me on this one – don’t go with the shoes, it will only end badly.

Maybe you’ve seen some other types of last minute shoppers out there… Who did I miss? (There’s one right there!)
Shift gears with me quickly here… Do we procrastinate the buying because we don’t really want to do the buying? Are we just reluctantly shuffling from store to store to buy stuff for people whom we really don’t want to buy stuff (and who will promptly set much of it aside and forget it ever existed)? I’m not talking about the new diamond ring I just bought my wife, or the PS3 for the boys (just kidding on both counts, for the record)… but about the little trinkets and gadgets and tokens that really don’t say anything. Here are a couple alternatives to spending hundreds of dollars on people who pretty much have everything they need already:

Check out Living Water International’s Christmas gift cards. You give a gift to provide clean water to some of the 884 million people who don’t have access to safe water in the world today. You send the electronic card (too late for the physical cards by now) and the person you send it to gets to choose from among several projects that will benefit from your donation. Maybe it’s just me, but that seems just a little more important than those awesome light up reindeer socks…

Check out Compassion’s Gift Catalog. If you’re last minute shopping for me, buy one of these gifts on my behalf. As tempting as yet another chocolate orange may be… I’d love to be able to say someone bought me a mosquito net, or a chicken… or even a toilet stall! (Besides, I don’t even like chocolate oranges.)

A friend posted this link to a cool gift package from World Vision. Corporate gifts will multiply your gift greatly.

There are tons of other worthy recipients of the money we’re tempted to spend on stuff that doesn’t matter this Christmas. Recipients like: 3:18 Ministries, Nebraska Christian College, giving a donation to your church’s youth ministry, asking your neighbor if they need anything, spending the time you’re not shopping hanging out at a Sr. Center or nursing home, taking a Jr. High kid out to lunch somewhere with forks… use your imagination and give something that matters.

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