Carrie Yamato

If this was any other year, the days following Thanksgiving would be my pilgrimage to the malls. It was never a goal to get everyone checked off my list, but rather a kick-off to Christmas, where my mom, cousins, aunts and I would get together for lunch, talk about holiday plans, and of course, share all the deals that we had found.

But that was before masks, social distancing and 25 % mall occupancy became the standard. This year, with my pilgrimage coming to a complete halt, I was forced to shop solo at my desk with only Google to guide me.

While not having to deal with parking spaces and cashier lines might sound attractive to some people, this was not the case for me. I am a shopper, and I pride myself on finding the right gift for the 30+ people on my list. It’s fun, creative, and how do I explain that Ah-ha moment, when price, color and realization hits to culminate in the perfect gift. 

Unlike most people, I don’t delve into Christmas shopping with a list of what I’m going to get for everyone. Instead, I prefer to let inspiration from my surroundings take its course.  

Last year, when I caught a whiff from the Jo Malone bar, I knew that was my cousin, the bright red floral cropped tank top screamed my daughter, as that is the only shade of red she likes. The plushness of that UGG throw? Well let’s just say I was glad it came in several different colors.

But this year, without the ability to use my senses for those serendipitous moments, I was a little lost and bouts of analysis paralysis kicked in. What does “cozy” and “sooo soft” really feel like? Is this “burgundy” sweater purple as it looks in the first photo or more rust as it looks in the second pic? And as hard as I tried, I just couldn’t imagine the scent of “bubbly champagne, sparkling berries and juicy tangerine” for a candle whose glass container caught my eye. 

Hoping that removing the intangible elements of gifts would lead me to a better shopping experience, I moved on to tech gadgets, which created an exercise in multi-screening. With all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, I had two-three websites open trying to find the best price. Little did I know that trying to figure out what the better deal was between 30 percent off, free shipping, $25 off $250 and the infamous BOGO deals would leave me just as undecisive.

But after about five hours of online shopping, which included buying backup gifts just in case my idea and Amazon’s idea of “sooo soft” wasn’t the same, my holiday shopping is about 75 % done. 

While my shopping experience wasn’t the same and my gift-giving game a little off, I’m still excited to see the look on my daughter’s face when she unwraps everything Christmas morning, and to hear my young nieces and nephews talk about Santa Claus.

As Dr. Fauci has reassured everyone, “Santa Claus has 'innate immunity, he won't be spreading COVID-19 to anyone.”

Happy Holidays!

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