There I was on a warm early October day walking in shorts and T-shirt through that store with lots of registers and no one manning them, when suddenly out of the corner of my eye I saw it. Or at least I thought I did.
Christmas decorations? Already? Really?
How can that be? In fact, it wasnâ??t even close to Halloween. It wasnâ??t even time to buy the Thanksgiving turkey let alone decorate for Christmas.
Nonetheless, there were fake Christmas trees, wreaths and some other Christmas accoutrements on display. It hardly put me in the Christmas spirit.
I guess that subtle reminder – sorta like a slap on the back of the head on an episode of NCIS – had me thinking. I know exactly what these stores want. These corporate giants want you to think about buying, buying and more buying, especially when there isnâ??t a sale in sight. Like now!
My stress levels skyrocketed like high blood pressure. I could feel my pulse in the little toe of my left foot; the blood pressure was so strong.
Christmas gift giving puts stress on everyone.
Just recently, the Yard Sale Queenâ??s daughter was asking how to put something on layaway at the store with lots of cash registers and no cashiers. So obviously, someone else is thinking about gift buying besides me. It just proves the subtle marketing tools work.
Now I have to worry about finding that perfect gift for the Yard Sale Queen. She hasnâ??t indicated anything, yet. (HINT. Itâ??s time)
Then there are her grand kids, you know my â??fakeâ? grandchildren. Of course, the â??fakeâ? daughter and â??fakeâ? son-in-law also enter the picture. The latter two are easy to buy for. The â??fakeâ? grand kids are not.
What do you get an 11-year-old princess and a 14-year-old warrior?
Let me think about that.
As for me, I keep asking the Yard Sale Queen for an 80-inch LED, WI-Fi-connected Ultra High Definition TV to sit atop the gas fireplace. You know the set where you can see crystal clear every grain of sand in the Sahara Desert on a shot from the space station or every molecule of dirt when a player slides into second base.
The 52-inch TV we have now is ancient. It is about four years old and looks kinda puny. I keep asking the Yard Sale Queen for a new TV at Christmas or birthday, and each time I am told, with a smile, â??Wally, we need a bigger room, so we need to buy a bigger house.â?
Needless to say, I expect something with a much smaller screen and smaller price tag, like a GPS. I do need that also just to navigate the three new roundabouts in town; otherwise I might spiral off onto one of the side roads and be lost forever.
I remember in my former life as a police officer in Suffolk and before that for four years as an auxiliary police officer in Portsmouth the importance of Christmas.
As a volunteer police officer, we gathered gifts and took them to less fortunate families with kids. It was heartwarming to see little faces light up when they received a few gifts that their families may not have been able to afford. It was an early version of Shop With A Cop, except the police did the shopping and got to play Santa.
Also, since I didnâ??t have kids, I thought about a gift I could give.
For almost 20 years, as a volunteer police officer in Portsmouth or paid officer in Suffolk, I volunteered to work Christmas Day so that an officer with kids could be off and home for them. It was the least that I could do.
Christmas Day could either be busy or very slow.
As a detective working Christmas for another detective who was scheduled to work, I caught a homicide to investigate. You would be amazed sometimes what kinds of calls police answer on Christmas day.
Culpeper police officers, deputies, paramedics and dispatchers, many with children at home, will be working 12-hour shifts Christmas day providing a valuable service to us.
On a larger scale, the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces stand guard in installations and on ships around the world to ensure we can enjoy the holidays and all the freedom we cherish.
I wish there was some way I could work for each of them so they could be home with families and children.
Yes, they chose those professions and realized that they would not be off every night, every weekend or every holiday, but that doesnâ??t mean we canâ??t make Christmas a little more enjoyable for them.
Now that is a gift worth giving.
Wally Bunker is a freelance contributor with the Culpeper Times. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org