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HolidayShopping:The5StagesOfGrief

Stephanie Ortiz
Stephanie Ortiz Writer/Editor/Blogger
11mo NY, United States Story
Holiday Shopping: The 5 Stages Of Grief


"For me, holiday shopping is like finals week in college: too many late nights, excessive carb consumption, & the sinking feeling of realizing I should have started much sooner.."

"It's the most wonderful time of the year..."

Whoever coined that phrase clearly never tried to decorate a house for Christmas with six overeager kids and a throbbing post-Thanksgiving hangover...


But the holiday season is in full swing, and although I truly enjoy the celebration aspect of it all, I specifically loathe the shopping that it entails.


I love giving gifts, and I’m painfully aware that my own lack of planning -financially and logistically- contribute to my yearly downfall. But regardless, my holiday shopping experience can best be summarized in stages..

1. Denial

This starts the day after Thanksgiving, known as the dreaded "Black Friday"- a time for savvy (beastly) shoppers to score fantastic deals on their gift purchases. I never shop on Black Friday, because,

a. I hate shopping.

b. I like breathing.

c. I don't want to stop doing something I like (breathing) while I'm crushed by a frenzied mob as I doing something I hate (shopping).

So the denial kicks in, as I mock those that get out there & shop, snickering to myself that I've got "plenty of time!"This is a lie that I continue to tell myself, until it's about 1-2 weeks before Christmas & I'm only halfway done with a list of what feels like thousands of gifts to buy.

Besides, who in their right mind would attempt to shop for holiday gifts in crowded stores with these lunatics?

                                        Shopping, aka "Why I Can't Get S^&* Done."

2. Anger

For me, holiday shopping is like finals week in college: too many late nights, excessive carb consumption, & the sinking feeling of realizing I should have started much sooner. I start to feel overwhelmed, overtired, and consequently, over-caffeinated, which eventually results in thinly veiled rage towards anyone in my proximity.


I get irrationally angry at the people that outbid me on Ebay at the last second. I get angry when a site claims something is in stock... until you try to buy it. I even get angry when at websites that post their "order by -- to get in time for Christmas" deadlines on every page. Yes, I get that they're intended to help, but they really make me feel more pressure to buy, now. Hurry! Do it! FASTER! (All I can say is, thank you, Amazon Prime, for two day free shipping. It’s a Christmas miracle indeed!)


3. Bargaining

When you're shopping for six kids (not to mention nieces, nephews, etc.) on a shoestring budget, the concept of bargaining takes on new significance. I do just about all of my shopping online, which means that I spend a few hours each day compulsively checking & re-checking prices on various item, on various websites.

While I consider myself a bargain hunter, in reality I spend four hours comparing gift prices on multiple websites to save $4, but spend $33 on pizza for dinner because I forgot to cook the $6 chicken in time. I'm no math wizard, but that doesn't seem to be a bargain in the end.


4. Depression

This is the post-purchase stage, when buyer's remorse is hitting hard. This stage occurs when I make the mistake of peeking at our credit card balance as I pay the minimum, watching the charges pile up as I ponder how much my kidneys would earn on the black market these days.

While I'm a sensible shopper, the reality is that even when keeping it simple with the types of gifts that we give, Christmas shopping always seems to entail spending more money that we should. At least a few nights are spent stressing over our dwindling financial state, and how much damn wrapping paper it's going to take to wrap up all these expenses, & how much time it's going to take to take all that damn wrapping paper to wrap all those damn expenses... you get the drift.

Depression leads to copious consumption of sugar, wine & cheese. That leads to excess holiday weight, which leads to drowning your sorrows in more... copious amounts of sugar, wine, & cheese. It's a process.


5. Acceptance

Despite the stress, however, each Christmas Day feels like magic. It's not just the gifts, although I love seeing the looks of joy as the kids open something that's just right.  No matter how much work it took to get there, Christmas Day always seems a little more precious that any other day. It's a combination of the perfect blend of faith, family, gifts, food, etc. that make it worth the while.

Like childbirth, we forget how hard it all was & do it again. And again. And..

(Well, until Visa says to stop, anyway.)

Me: "But Jesus is the reason for the season!"

Clerk: "Ma'am, have Jesus call us then, because this is Visa & you've maxed out your card."

— Six Pack Mom (@Six_Pack_Mom) December 7, 2016 via Twitter


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5 comments

  • Lily98
    11mo ago

    I'm glad we are all in the same boat! It can be easy to go overboard with spending on the holidays. I wonder how many credit card companies get calls after the holidays saying people's bills will be late because of the holidays.

    I'm glad we are all in the same boat! It can be easy to go overboard with spending on the holidays. I wonder how many credit card companies get calls after the holidays saying people's bills will be late because of the holidays.

  • Lily98
    11mo ago

    I set a strong budget though this year so did okay

    I set a strong budget though this year so did okay

    • Stephanie Ortiz
      Stephanie Ortiz Writer/Editor/Blogger
      11mo ago

      That's my goal for next year! Even though I probably spend less than a lot of families, I still spent more than I should have. I haven't given up hope that I'll put aside a bit of money each week/month for Christmas this coming year.

      That's my goal for next year! Even though I probably spend less than a lot of families, I still spent more than I should have. I haven't given up hope that I'll put aside a bit of money each week/month for Christmas this coming year.

      • winemaker
        11mo ago

        Wow, does this story bring back some great memories. My mother and father, children of WWI and young adults during the great depression and full fledged grown ups during WWII knew what it was like not to have much and consequenitialy the value of a dollar. I can recall the Christmases when I was young and it started out kind of this way: My mother would get the day after Thanksgiving off work and we'd do some early Christmas 'window' shopping. I'd given her my Christmas wish list before Thanksgiving so she and my father knew what I wanted. The weekends before Christmas my mother and father would go out by themselves, without me of course, to get the gifts. As I got older, I still told my mother what I wanted for Christmas, after she asked, 'what 're your thoughts on Christmas this year"? This was up through adulthood as she once told me years earlier: " Look, I'd rather get you something you'd like and use than something that'll sit idle and won't be used, I don't want to waste my time or money. Over thee years, she said that if she saw something during the year that she thought I'd like, she'd get it and put it aside for me. Years earlier, she'd gotten tired of the lunatics and crazy shoppers out the weeks before Christmas and this was her way of not having to deal with it. She did however, have a couple of last minute things she needed to do, but all the major stuff was done weeks earlier. She and my dad often stayed up late at night, even on Christmas eve to wrap the last minute gifts. I still recall a lot of the wonderful Christmases and the great gifts my parents got me. I think that today, a lot of children don't appreciate the thoughts that go into getting them appropriate gifts, ones they'd like, and also affordable and not 'got to have it now, it's the hottest thing this year. I'm sure my mother and father overspent on Christmas gifts each each year as a way of having Christmas joy than when they were kids and not having or getting much.

        Wow, does this story bring back some great memories. My mother and father, children of WWI and young adults during the great depression and full fledged grown ups during WWII knew what it was like not to have much and consequenitialy the value of a dollar. I can recall the Christmases when I was young and it started out kind of this way: My mother would get the day after Thanksgiving off work and we'd do some early Christmas 'window' shopping. I'd given her my Christmas wish list before Thanksgiving so she and my father knew what I wanted. The weekends before Christmas my mother and father would go out by themselves, without me of course, to get the gifts. As I got older, I still told my mother what I wanted for Christmas, after she asked, 'what 're your thoughts on Christmas this year"? This was up through adulthood as she once told me years earlier: " Look, I'd rather get you something you'd like and use than something that'll sit idle and won't be used, I don't want to waste my time or money. Over thee years, she said that if she saw something during the year that she thought I'd like, she'd get it and put it aside for me. Years earlier, she'd gotten tired of the lunatics and crazy shoppers out the weeks before Christmas and this was her way of not having to deal with it. She did however, have a couple of last minute things she needed to do, but all the major stuff was done weeks earlier. She and my dad often stayed up late at night, even on Christmas eve to wrap the last minute gifts. I still recall a lot of the wonderful Christmases and the great gifts my parents got me. I think that today, a lot of children don't appreciate the thoughts that go into getting them appropriate gifts, ones they'd like, and also affordable and not 'got to have it now, it's the hottest thing this year. I'm sure my mother and father overspent on Christmas gifts each each year as a way of having Christmas joy than when they were kids and not having or getting much.

        • winemaker
          11mo ago

          Wow, does this story bring back some great memories. My mother and father, children of WWI and young adults during the great depression and full fledged grown ups during WWII knew what it was like not to have much and consequenitialy the value of a dollar. I can recall the Christmases when I was young and it started out kind of this way: My mother would get the day after Thanksgiving off work and we'd do some early Christmas 'window' shopping. I'd given her my Christmas wish list before Thanksgiving so she and my father knew what I wanted. The weekends before Christmas my mother and father would go out by themselves, without me of course, to get the gifts. As I got older, I still told my mother what I wanted for Christmas, after she asked, 'what 're your thoughts on Christmas this year"? This was up through adulthood as she once told me years earlier: " Look, I'd rather get you something you'd like and use than something that'll sit idle and won't be used, I don't want to waste my time or money. Over the years, she said that if she saw something during the year that she thought I'd like, she'd get it and put it aside for me. Years earlier, she'd gotten tired of the lunatics and crazy shoppers out the weeks before Christmas and this was her way of not having to deal with it. She did however, have a couple of last minute things she needed to do, but all the major stuff was done weeks earlier. She and my dad often stayed up late at night, even on Christmas eve to wrap the last minute gifts. I still recall a lot of the wonderful Christmases and the great gifts my parents got me. Now that my mother and father are gone, Christmas is very different as an adult, yet Christmas is for everyone and the best gifts are the special people in your life that make life interesting and worth living. I think that today, a lot of children don't appreciate the thoughts that go into getting them appropriate gifts, ones they'd like, and also affordable and not 'got to have it now, it's the hottest thing this year. I'm sure my mother and father overspent on Christmas gifts each each year as their way of having the missing Christmas joy they didn't get much of when they were kids.

          Wow, does this story bring back some great memories. My mother and father, children of WWI and young adults during the great depression and full fledged grown ups during WWII knew what it was like not to have much and consequenitialy the value of a dollar. I can recall the Christmases when I was young and it started out kind of this way: My mother would get the day after Thanksgiving off work and we'd do some early Christmas 'window' shopping. I'd given her my Christmas wish list before Thanksgiving so she and my father knew what I wanted. The weekends before Christmas my mother and father would go out by themselves, without me of course, to get the gifts. As I got older, I still told my mother what I wanted for Christmas, after she asked, 'what 're your thoughts on Christmas this year"? This was up through adulthood as she once told me years earlier: " Look, I'd rather get you something you'd like and use than something that'll sit idle and won't be used, I don't want to waste my time or money. Over the years, she said that if she saw something during the year that she thought I'd like, she'd get it and put it aside for me. Years earlier, she'd gotten tired of the lunatics and crazy shoppers out the weeks before Christmas and this was her way of not having to deal with it. She did however, have a couple of last minute things she needed to do, but all the major stuff was done weeks earlier. She and my dad often stayed up late at night, even on Christmas eve to wrap the last minute gifts. I still recall a lot of the wonderful Christmases and the great gifts my parents got me. Now that my mother and father are gone, Christmas is very different as an adult, yet Christmas is for everyone and the best gifts are the special people in your life that make life interesting and worth living. I think that today, a lot of children don't appreciate the thoughts that go into getting them appropriate gifts, ones they'd like, and also affordable and not 'got to have it now, it's the hottest thing this year. I'm sure my mother and father overspent on Christmas gifts each each year as their way of having the missing Christmas joy they didn't get much of when they were kids.


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Stephanie Ortiz
Writer/Editor/Blogger

For Sale: Master's Degree in English, like new. Barely used by overworked, over-caffeinated mom of a bajillion (6) kids. Will work for coffee. Or Pampers. I'm a former English teacher with a passion for the written word, in all forms. I maintain a successful blog, Six Pack Mom, & work as a [...]

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