December 21, 2012

Online Christmas shopping

Column from The Watertown Gazette
Mother, Interrupted
By Debra Carpenter
"Too good to be true? Online Christmas Shopping"

It’s December, the merriest month of the year! Not only will I finish this semester of classes on the 13th, Christmas is right around the corner and the new year is on the horizon. I love the season, but finding Christmas gifts for my family is usually a big hassle. Normally, I get into the car, get into competition mode, drive to a crowded store a day or two before Christmas, and attempt to buy the gifts. Well, not this year! This year I decided to try online Christmas shopping, and at the risk of sounding antisocial and geeky, I loved it! No fighting hordes of stressed out Christmas shoppers, wasting gas only to find what I needed was sold out, or risking life and limb to reach for that last must-have toy of the season. Instead, I sat warm and cozy in my home and clicked the mouse a few times. Since I have my debit card number memorized (Who does that?!), I didn’t even have to leave my desk to grab my wallet. It was the most simple and relaxed day of “shopping” I’ve ever had.

But there’s something about it that doesn’t feel right. After making some purchases, and getting free shipping on top of great discounts, I couldn’t help but feel that something was wrong. I had that ominous feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop or lightning to strike. There is no way that typing a description, clicking a button, and entering my card number constitutes shopping. There must be some hidden catch, right? I’m sure it would be funny to see my face as I clicked “Purchase”—a mixture of elation and kind of creeped-out uncertainty. Since all my college courses are online, I was able to sit at the computer and pretend to work on a paper while ordering gifts for my husband. However, since I can’t really keep a secret, it only took about 20 minutes for me to burst out and tell him what he could expect this Christmas. And I thought it was only fair to inform him when I received an email about an item being backordered the next day. Just for future reference, don’t tell your husband his long-awaited video game has been put on back order. You may not be ready to deal with the tears and Pandora’s box of emotions that come flooding out. In fact, it may prompt you to cancel the order and ignore your veto on traditional Christmas shopping long enough to purchase the game from good old WalMart.

I was definitely sold on online Christmas shopping when the first gifts began arriving last Friday—packaged discreetly enough for my 2 year old daughter to believe my lie about it being an empty box—and I am not sure I’ll ever go back to traditional Christmas shopping. In fact, I may never leave my house again!…I’m kidding, sort of. Now, if I could just find a way to keep our kitten out of the Christmas tree and our daughter from unwrapping every present we place under the tree. Dream big, I always say.

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