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It's Our Turn: Christmas shopping: my worst nightmare

The holidays are a lovely yet frightening time of the year for me. The food, the smells, the snow, the laughter, the family, the decorations, the sparkle, I can’t get enough of it.

Nothing, however, will get me running for the hills like the thought of Christmas shopping.

My throat starts to swell, I develop tunnel vision, the cold sweats commence, it’s all simply too much for me to bear.

To be fair, the allergy-like reaction I get from Christmas shopping is the same one I get from shopping year round. Going into a mall and trying to fight the crowds for something that you’ll probably end up paying too much for just doesn’t seem like my idea of a good time. At all.

My poor friends, they love shopping trips. They can get honest (sometimes too honest) opinions on clothes, purses and accessories when we shop in a group. Also, they seem to find it as some sort of weird, torturous bonding exercise. Couldn’t we just throw rocks at each other, instead?

One of my closest girlfriends describes shopping with me like coaxing a cat out of a tree. It’s never easy, requires a lot of patience, and there’s a good chance someone will get clawed.

Overall, I believe I suffer from severe overstimulation when I shop. There is so much going on around me that I’m well too aware of. Between the stores, the items, the music, and the other shoppers, I become very overwhelmed. Then, if the other shoppers are being rude, which, let’s be honest, happens far too often, it turns an already stressful situation into an unbearable one.

Throughout the year, I usually can stay away from shopping. Christmas, however, is a whole different ball game. This is something I simply cannot avoid.

Not only do we already have the original horrors of shopping, but we have other stresses that get thrown in on top.

Your loved ones give you specific lists of things they desire. Sure, gifts are supposed to come from the heart, and it’s been said that it’s the thought that counts. Reality check: No one wants to be that person who gives the gift that immediately ends up in the return pile. Because of this, the items you are shopping for become very specific.

Now, sometimes this is a good thing. I know that when I’m doing my mental prep for the rare shopping trip I take in the holiday off season, it helps to have a clear idea of what is needed. This allows me to cut down the hopeless wandering I am usually guilty of performing. This is Christmas time, though, and it’s simply not that easy.

Those certain items you’re looking for? Turns out that everyone else is looking for the exact same things. This creates a race of time to make sure you get them first, before they fly off the shelves. More often than not, you aren’t so lucky and have to resort to a second choice of gift. I usually go through this cycle three or more times, with occasional tears between, with each loved one I shop for.

I’m sure a lot of people are wondering why I don’t go the quick and easy gift card route. Well, if I didn’t have it hard enough already, gift cards aren’t encouraged in my family. Something about being too impersonal and what not. I think they just like to watch me suffer.

Online shopping, God’s gift to the somewhat deranged females like me, is never too helpful this time of the year. Shipping is a nightmare, so unless I get all my online Christmas shopping done in June, I have to face my fears in person.

In the end, after all the bad park jobs, bruises to my ego, and panic attacks while in a crowd of crazed people, I end up succeeding and getting gifts for everyone. This leaves me 11 months to recover and try to prepare myself for the next go-round, which I never seem to accomplish.

One good thing to take from this: You really know I love you if I risk my sanity to get your present.

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“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.

Annie Harman
Annie Harman is a reporter for Echo Press and The Osakis Review. She grew up in Detroit Lakes and graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire with a degree in print journalism and history in May 2012. Follow her on Twitter at annieharman
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