Reflections: Christmas shopping and decorating don’t bring joy to my world

The steamy breath of the holidays is upon us. I love the holidays. What’s not to love when there’s plenty of food, drink and parties involved?

Granted, Christmas shopping hassles can be sniping little terrors that are a psychiatric goldfield. But since I mostly buy only gift certificates, I don’t work up a residue of cold sweat over shopping.

Still, I still have to purchase some actual gifts for my wife in either a brick-or-mortar store or online. I find myself doing more of the latter because mall and shopping center parking lots this time of year are asphalt petri dishes for accidents. Plus, I’m not a big fan of a crowd unless it’s at a sporting event.

Compounding my holiday shopping issues, my wife abhors my taste in fashion. Each year I ask Santa Claus to make my wife think that a gift card from her husband isn’t too impersonal. And every year the jolly fat man blows me off. Memo to Santa: Don’t bother coming down my chimney on Christmas Eve.

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At least I do have a few spare nickels and dimes weighing down my pockets so I can holiday shop without having to go on a toothpaste-only diet for the ensuing six weeks.

But what about the people who can’t afford to holiday shop for loved ones?

They’re in a tight spot, faced with a Sophie’s choice of either disappointing those dear to them or getting pinched for shoplifting.

Thank God the Christmas shopping season isn’t year round (although it sure seems that way). Otherwise retail chains would have to hire store detectives in droves.

A few years ago a British priest advised folks in desperate situations to shoplift from chain stores. At least the Anglican clergyman had a soft spot for mom-and-pop stores. The last time I looked at the Ten Commandments, thou shalt not steal was still listed. Retail theft still is theft, is it not?

And whatever happened to the bit about blessed are the poor for they shall inherit the earth? Granted, we all learned that’s a crock a long time ago.

I guess desperate times make for sticky fingers, especially at this time of year.

I suffer angst from another dastardly component of the holidays – decorating. I am sick and tired of it. I find the whole concept of adorning the exterior of your home with more lights than a casino to be rather ludicrous. I mean, how many lights were there on that stable in Bethlehem?

Nevertheless, I have strung up enough lights over the years to keep the boys and girls at PP&L pumping electricity overtime. Not willingly, of course. Only because my better half has shamed me into it so that our neighbors won’t think I’m a Scrooge.

Bah humbug to that nonsense, I say. Alas, I don’t have the final say.

At least my wife finally has compromised with me. We have scaled back the extent of our outside display. People no longer drive down from Vermont just to stare in awe at its magnificence. No more boiling over in anger as I dangle from the ladder while high winds turn the surrounding trees pulpy with fear.

All in the interest of global warming and our inflated electric bill, I just hope my wife someday sees the light and realizes that confining our Christmas decorations exclusively to the interior is the way to go because it never snows, rains or freezes inside as long as the roof and our PP&L balance remain intact.

If our nosy neighbors notice the absence of our outside lights, I’ll tell them that we converted to Judaism.