We’re well into December, and the world is covered in those telltale signs of the approaching Christmas season: snow, Christmas decorations, and roiling, teaming masses of people. People everywhere — shopping, eating, pageant-attending, and generally gumming up the works everywhere you go.
Every Christmas it seems like the population of the earth temporarily shoots up, and there are more people than there are unheard of deals on consumer electronics. Getting into and out of all the usual places suddenly becomes like trying to catch the last helicopter out of Saigon.
Being trapped in traffic and big crowds makes me bleed out the eyeballs. So, as the month goes on, I practice a gradual withdrawal from the madness. The order of my creeping holiday hermitism goes something like this:
Thanksgiving week – I stop going to the major malls in the area. The little mall is still in play (You know the one I mean: The one that was the shizznit thirty-five years ago, and then gave up on being a big mall ten years ago and got a major redesign and decided to go after the boutique market, and their calling card is that they have a vending machine that spits out Proactiv and the cleanest public bathrooms anyone has ever seen.). But unless I need to make an emergency run to the California Pizza Kitchen or Banana Republic starts giving away pants, I don’t even want to drive by the big malls.
Starting December 1st – No more big box stores. They become crowded both with customers and with the extra help they hire for the season, who function less like useful sales staff and more like human speed bumps with name tags.
Two weeks before Christmas – Start avoiding the post office and Target. Actually, you should avoid the post office as much as possible all year ’round, but this is the time when people start trying to mail very large and complicated packages, while being assisted by postal workers who didn’t have the customer service skills to make it as a seasonal employee at OfficeMax. Target starts filling up around this time because people are starting to get desperate but still have some hope of finding gifts that are kind of nice.
Week of Christmas – You would have to be completely insane to go to a Walmart during Christmas week. David Blaine’s next special should involve him trying to buy a bag of Doritos at a Walmart at 6:00 pm on December 23rd. I would totally watch that.
Christmas Eve – Don’t go anywhere. If you need gas or food or medicine, well, you should’ve bought it two days ago. Make your plans accordingly, and good luck to us all.