How long should I wait for the best holiday deals?
I’ve been waiting till the last possible moment to get the best deals on my remaining holiday gifts, but how long should I wait?
~ Playing Hard to Get
Dear Playing Hard to Get,
This annual dalliance between holiday bargain hunters and retailers is truly a tricky affair. Each year we tell ourselves,
“This time it will be different. This time I won’t be so easily seduced by trifling trinkets that sparkle with holiday mood lighting. I’ll refuse to let the swell of festive music cause me to lose my inhibitions and allow my wallet to lie prostrate across the checkout counter - spending well beyond its means.”
And while those may not be your exact thoughts, it is clear you are doing your best to resist the pervasively persistent suitor’s siren songs of special deals and offers you can’t refuse. You are waiting for them to come begging on their knees; driven to desperate measures that have them serenading you at your window; that is when you’ll know the time is right to let them in to grovel for your indulgences - and again, sadly, they will have won. We can alter the tune as much as we like, but the dance remains the same; the story plays out in predictable fashion and we are left staring at our broken bank statement thinking, “Holy Mistletoe! They did it to me again.”
How do we get here? What leads us to this inevitable ending? Perhaps if we retrace our steps we can discover clues as to where we went astray.
For most, it all starts with our thankful feasting when we eat and drink to overflowing. With our bellies more than full we turn to wondering what other appetites we might indulge to excess. And like a lover being lured by a mysterious phantom to a forbidden lair, we are enticed to venture into the Black Friday forest of retail mania; driven mad by ridiculously low prices for mythical material items that never seem to materialize. We wander home, dejected and unfulfilled, and anxiously await the equally hyped Cyber Monday when we can scour the Internet for that perfectly priced gift with free shipping. From then on we are hooked - waiting for that next big shopping event to coax us back to the mall for Super Santalicious Saturday, Midnight Madness Monday, Tsunami Tuesday, Wacky Wednesday, and Thermal-Nuclear-Meltdown Thursday.
Like most roads to hell, our intentions are well meaning. We are, after all, shopping to bring joy to others by showering them with lavish gifts we hope will thrill and amaze. Our only reward is to witness that glow of exuberant surprise that is sure to appear on the recipient’s face after they have peeled away the gift wrap to reveal the extent of our generous heart. But our generous hearts often lead us into an unspoken gift giving arms race; feeling the need to outdo others or even ourselves. And so, with only a few days remaining, you find yourself trying to play it cool; hoping you can score those last minute deals that might keep you from overextending yourself - again.
Have we learned nothing from Cindy Lou Who who was no more than two? If I may quote one of my cultural mentors, Theodor Seuss Geisel, who wrote,
“It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes, or bags!”
Certainly if one has the means, by all means - be generous. But if your generosity is dependent on lower prices, I’d advise taking a moment for some sober reflection on how you can enjoy the season with fewer packages, boxes, or bags. The holidays will come and go and be back again next year and the year after that and... and long after all the gifts have been opened and the paper and packaging have been discarded - what we will mostly remember are the people with whom we have shared it.