Shopping in the net

Day In and Day Out

Yesterday was a glorious day in my neck of the woods. Sunny and warm, with temperatures in the mid 60s. Very April-like which was a relief from the February-ish November we just escaped. If you didn’t know better (unless you live in south Florida) you’d not know there were only 23 days until Christmas.

SantaWhen I was a kid we always knew how long till Christmas. That goes with childhood. You could have asked any random 9 year old on May 6 how long till Christmas and without hesitation would have gotten “only 233 days!” in reply. Parents got a little extra help. Beginning the day after Thanksgiving the morning paper posted a happy Santa holding his nice or naughty list proclaiming “20 Shopping Days Until Christmas!” That’s what yesterday’s paper would have printed. Yes, back then there was a difference between days until Christmas and shopping days ‘til Christmas.

This isn’t a post about how great things were in those good old days. I just want to point out that back then the stores weren’t open on Sunday and on Christmas Eve it wasn’t unusual for many to close before dinner time so the employees could be home with their families. Not every day was a shopping day. Of course today the stores can be closed and still shopping gets done through the magic of on-line retailers and electronic charging or cash transfers. Still those places with real doors will be opening them every day until Christmas.

Except …

Not everything is open on Sunday. And I don’t mean the post office. You can receive and they do deliver mail on Sunday. No, I mean banks. Banks, those financial institutions that try very hard in their ads to convince us that they are just ordinary people like the rest of us mere mortals working to make our money work hard for us. Uh huh.

Over the years they’ve made it handy enough for us to do most banking without their input. Automated teller machines have been around for years along with on line money transfers and automated recurring payments. Just like you would expect in the 21st century. Then why in a day when a merchant can determine whether you have enough in your checking account to cover that new OLED TV with your debit card even if it is 2:00 on a Sunday afternoon, and manage to reduce your balance by the price of that TV (plus tax and extended warranty) they still make you wait three days with you make a deposit “for the check to clear.” And why do they never tell you what they are doing with that money in the interim. It seems like they don’t have to long for the good old days. They never left them.

Back to shopping though. With now just 22 days till Christmas (and if I recall last year some retailers were actually guaranteeing same day delivery of select items ordered by noon on Christmas day making it now 23 shopping days till Christmas) I better get myself in gear. I have a lot of preparations to make. No, not a lot of shopping to do. I don’t do much shopping for Christmas. I’ll still put together a small stocking for my daughter (after 29 years the Santa fantasy is now more mine than hers), but otherwise the gifts to and from the rest of the family are our love and company.

The preparations I have to make are keeping my recycle bin empty for the daily onslaught of printed “gift guides” and my “Delete Finger” limber for elimination of the electronic version of those same and similar guides from my email inbox. Has anybody noticed those gift guides all seem to bear recommendations for anybody on your Christmas list with gifts from the same store? Who would have thought your 96 year old aunt and your 7 month old great nephew can be satisfied in a single trip to the same hunting and camping emporium. And no I am not receiving that email because I requested it. I never heard of you before and where is the “click here to unsubscribe” line?

One thing I don’t have to prepare for is an unusually warm Christmas. In fact we get back to December weather later today with falling temperatures and snow by morning. For those of you living in south Florida that’s the white stuff Frosty is made of.

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