By Bob Alexander
To me, one of the joys of Christmas is shopping for that special gift on Christmas Eve. I love the crowds; jostling, folks bumping into each other with smiles and apologies that would ordinarily be absent on any other day. Of course you run the risk of being trampled by the sea of humanity if you’re shopping at the mall, but that just adds excitement to the holiday shopping experience! I love shopping at the mall on Christmas Eve.
Entering the mall, you hear Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas’, Dean Martin singing “Silver Bells and Johnny Cash singing “Little Drummer Boy”. I always find my way to the food court, no matter which mall I’m in. I’m always hungry on Christmas Eve and the food shops make an extra effort to show their Christmas spirit. I love seeing the Oriental ladies in Santa hats offering bites of egg rolls to passers by and the Mexican girls offering nachos to everyone. If this doesn’t get you in the Christmas mood nothing will. You’re hopeless!
I love people watching at the food court who never look on Christmas Eve as the exciting day I find it to be. There are fathers trying to control their kids while mom has gone to the other end of the mall, giving Santa a little help in the Christmas present department. When mom returns, dad will wander off himself, away from prying eyes to buy something to slip under the tree for mom the next morning.
After a quick bite to eat, strolling through the mall concourse, I see window displays decked out in holiday finery. Sale ads are everywhere! Jewelry ½ off! Women’s clothing 60% off! Every gift item anyone could imagine is on sale! Everything from books to chocolates is all dressed up in Christmas wrappings! Even the store clerks, instead of the weary expressions they exhibited yesterday, are happy and cheerful today. This day, more than any other during the Christmas holidays generates a warm and pleasant atmosphere.
Mall shopping on Christmas Eve is also a great place to run into old friends and acquaintances. One never knows just who will be seen struggling with an armful of bags holding gifts for their families. There is always enough time to stop and say “Merry Christmas” to someone you haven’t seen in ages.
When I enter the mall on Christmas Eve, I rarely know what I’m going to buy. I don’t have any preconceived ideas that would force me to look for something that may not be there. I have long held that it is more blessed to give than receive, so I give someone something I want them to have. They never know what that might be.
I know it’s more practical to ask someone what they want and then buy it. To me, that takes the fun out of buying a gift. It makes it seems more like grocery shopping with a list of items you must buy. When I spot that special item, I know immediately it’s something that would be perfect for the person I’m buying it for!
Political correctness today dictates that we not use the word Christmas in our greetings; instead we’re to say Happy Holidays. That doesn’t work for me. Christmas has been celebrated as the birthday of Jesus Christ since approximately 98 AD with the Bishop of Rome declaring December 25th as the official day around 350 AD.
There are of course, arguments that this is not the correct date of Jesus’ birth. Those arguments are probably true; more likely He was born in the spring. It doesn’t really matter though, the reason we celebrate Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ! If it offends someone because of the name of the holidays, simply do not participate! It’s that easy.
As I leave the mall, the Salvation Army volunteers ring their bells as passers by throw money into the kettle in the spirit of Christmas. It’s been a great day! Now I’ll go home and wait for Santa!
Bob Alexander is well experienced in outdoor cooking, holiday eating and leisure living.