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The Last Windrow: Christmas shopping

This is the holiday time of year. The time when we listen for Christmas bells, smell sugar cookies baking in the oven and hang those twinkling lights on our house eaves while hanging onto the ladder with one hand and the lights with the other and hoping that we live to see another year. 

It is the time of year when I remember my mother ordering some of our Christmas gifts from the Christmas edition of the Montgomery Ward, Sears or Penney catalogs that would appear in our rural mailbox each year.

I remember running into our farmhouse with one of those gift-laden catalogs in my farm-boy paws and thinking of all the possibilities that something listed in the pages would magically appear under our tree on Christmas Eve. 

Times have changed since then and what we thought of as a “prime” Christmas gift to us, such as a Roy Rogers pistol set, a pop gun, an electric train or a doll that cried “Mama,” are not really on many kids’ wish lists nowadays. 

Now our kids wish for iPads, electronic games, flat screen TV sets, remote controlled helicopters and maybe even a trip to the Caribbean on a cruise ship. Life has not gotten simpler. 

Our farm Christmas gift wishes were always tempered by the knowledge that our folks did not have a deep pool of financial wealth. We were farm kids and were taught from an early age that money did not come easy. 

The gifts we received were usually well thought out, and even though we usually received a gift or two thought not practical, many of our gifts were of the usable nature. But, it was always more fun to unwrap a new BB gun rather than a pair of socks. 

Today we are also witnessing a change from the old-time way of shopping for our gifts. Rather than ordering from a catalog or going to a store, now folks are choosing to order their gifts online with the aid of a computer. A world of goods is laid at our feet with gifts available from every corner of the earth with merely the click of a mouse. 

Somehow I think some of the fun is lost by just sitting in front of a computer screen and ordering a gift. You can’t feel it, you can’t smell it, you don’t have a friendly salesperson offering to wrap your gift for you. 

Even though it is a convenient way of shopping, don’t you think something is lost by not having the experience of picking it off the shelf with your own hands? 

Some of my favorite Christmas shopping memories were those when my young brothers and sisters and I were given $2 with the charge of purchasing a gift for mom and dad. Usually they each received a year’s worth of shaving lotion or body powder from each of us. A great deal of thought went into the purchase of those gifts. 

I’ll be doing my shopping in person this year as I have always done. Call me old-fashioned, but it just seems more appropriate for me to expend some physical energy in selecting my gifts. Just punching the keys on this computer doesn’t seem to give me the same feeling of accomplishment.

And, no, I did not join the throngs that stood in front of the stores on Thanksgiving evening. I’ve never had the urge to spend any of my dollars prematurely. It’s amazing how shopping a day or two before Christmas Eve seems to make decisions come easier!

See you next time. Okay?