CyberDecember by PoppaErnie

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CyberDecember The mystique and lure of catalog shopping, plus some other stuff……. Here I sit – the Monday Tuesday Wednesday after Black Friday, well it started as Cyyber Monday, the day of the year people return to work and use their computers to shop. Or at least I think that is the correct definition or description of the day.  Well, I guess no will be pepper sprayed or a target for  a TASER by connecting with some online retailers either by computer or as I prefer, the good old landline phone. After reading a compilation of stories from the BF weekend, I was appalled – what transpired was complete and utter madness.  And all just to save a few dollars on some dumb game for one of those reality electronic systems where you stand in front of your TV and shoot each other,  (I think). Not sure what “games” are available so can’t enlighten anyone there. So, now for my take on shopping – all year I’m on the lookout for either major presents or those pesky stocking stuffers that seem, to me, so difficult to purchase, I just don’t want to pick up some crappy junk – I like my contribution to someone’s stocking to be useful and even perhaps meaningful. My wife and I eschewed major gifts to each other and just do stockings – good enough for me as we will take a couple of trips in the coming year and be involved in other activities that will require some major funding. We both buy for our granddaughters and their parents. We attempt to buy and gifts that are meaningful to them – we do take suggestions – so as not to spend foolishly. Don’t tell Emily, but she  will receive a Radio Flyer red wagon this year – Poppa’s quintessential Christmas gift; Riley got hers a couple of years ago. And I think her Dad and Mom know what they are receiving. And just today, a trip to Wesleyan Potters in Middletown garnered a gift for Aunt Mary’s draw in the family ‘grab-bag’. I actually am going back there;  saw a couple of items that may fit well in a stocking. This is unusual for me as I do not shop local retail stores that often; just mainly for consumables and when I have coupons. This time of year is a bit different all the rules are relaxed yet  looking at what I have already purchased along with my wife’s pile – I’d say 75% of our purchases were via mail order. Then the bottom line – ‘they’ estimate, I reckon that is the Retailers Organizations, that 62 billion dollars was spent over the weekend. Boy, that is some haul – I remember when I was young we received one ‘major’ gift and stocking stuff. My wife told me she and her family received clothing for Christmas, 4 girls, but they too were the recipients of ‘toys’ – bikes, skates and the like. The children of today seem to be showered in a wide assortment of gifts from simple push toys to the latest in electronic gaming (and yet will take the box something came in and if is big enough it becomes an instant “fort”. My granddaughter, for the first time in her 8 years mentioned a specific music system and gaming unit she would be interested in obtaining for Christmas; in prior years nothing piqued her interest, that was always easy enough. Alas,  I had never heard of what she desired until someone told me one thing was like an I-Pod and the other an improvement on ATARI – shows you how old I am. Yet thinking of it, old-age, a fine precursor for bliss! Here’s something pretty obvious – Christmas has blossomed into a retail behemoth – the amount of money spent advertising, both print and TV is astonishing. The newspaper is full of Christmas ads every day, our local daily – prints a special edition on Thanksgiving with ads and the printed word advising you how to get the most out of the time prior to the holiday, of course they want you to spend most of the time shopping, but there are etiquette rules, recipes and gift suggestions. Pretty much missing any reference to the religious aspects of the Holiday. Not that I’m a religious aficionado(for lack of a better term) by any means, but billions, holy cow! I have a collection of family Nativity sets that I display every year, pretty much my religious contribution to the holiday and I do donate money and food to a couple of different LOCAL causes – where I know the goods and cash go straight to needy families and individuals.All this in the spirit of the season and adage ‘better to give than receive’. And, the point of this piece, catalogs sent in the mail. My grandfather, RIP, had a saying around this time of year ‘I get so many catalogs – I must be on every “Sucker” list imaginable’. And he did, for the era – however – I believe my wife and myself receive the most mail on our carr9ers’ route. One day he mentioned he was always glad we were one of the first houses he delivered due to the sheer weight of the catalogs. And, lo and behold my wife just brought in the mail – 12 catalogs and a couple of offers to change my Social Security supplemental insurance. Our record for one day was 22 catalogs; Yipee! Back in the 60’s life was simpler, Christmas decorations did not go up until AFTER Thanksgiving and we received the L. L. Bean and Vermont Country Store catalog regularly – plus a few others, Sears Roebuck, Montgomery Ward and at Christmas a catalog from the Play Pen on Pratt St. every toy imaginable. And I  really do not remember much more. Sure there were some, nothing like now. We still get Beans’ and VCS, both of which we order from – mainly during the holidays – VCS stocks some obscure items. And Beans’ I’m always getting new mocs, shirts etc……and now with free shipping once again and no tax with their quality guarantee – can’t really go wrong.

For low-techer's - most retailers have toll-free numbers...

Nowadays, with the sheer proliferation of catalogs touting: clothing, baked goods (English Muffins) cakes, crumpets, dried fruit, toys, gadgets, hardware, kitchen goods and so much more. So everyday, when the mail arrives I try to weed out the catalogs the wife and I would never order from to ones that may be a possibility. This year, I ordered from a candy manufacturer, the Vermont Country Store (unusual items), a children’s educational toy store (although what I bought could be usurped by a cardboard carton), an stationery/electronics outlet (oops, nope that was STAPLES – bought in person. A clothing store (Beans’), kitchen goods and gadgets catalog and a store selling corn cob smoked meats; I may order from Wolferman’s English muffin catalog – I can HIGHLY recco these items, Yum-O. You will notice that pricing for some goods is really off the wall – but we sort of pull out the stops, not too far, at Christmas. With Wolferman’s I order an assortment of muffins, crumpets and make up 2 or 3 different baskets for good friends. You have to realize that many of the food items are unique to their catalog and not available anywhere else; a point to ponder. And right now – many of the catalogs, two today had a $10 and $20 off coupon on a $50 order – plus reduced shipping – many of the catalogs are offering FREE shipping – always glad to accept a discount. For those last minute Louis and Louise’s some catalog retailers will guarantee Christmas delivery if you order by December 22/23 – however the shipping will not be free and for OVERNIGHT expedited you will get a good hit on your wallet. So, get to it – make your list of the hard to buy and check out a catalog – you may be pleasantly surprised. Sorry to say – have not found a catalog specializing in goods for people who do nothing………

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