My holiday marathon turned into a sprint

December 15, 2008

by Matt Kane

Well, I completed my annual Christmas marathon this past weekend, and it wasn’t too bad.

While the big box stores manage to lure more and more suckers into their stores the day after Thanksgiving, or Black Friday, as most consumers know it, I, like I do every year, laid low for a couple weeks before heading out to the money-sucking mall.

Ridgedale Center was the choice for my sweetie and me, with gifts for six nephews and five nieces on our shopping lists.

I never know what to get the little guys and gals when I begin my treasure hunt, but I always end up finding something I hope each one will like.

Like I said, the hunt started at Ridgedale, but I soon realized, and, somehow, I convince my often impulse-buying fiancé that the mall was not where we wanted to be.

Don’t get me wrong, the 50- and 60-percent-off sale signs were everywhere, but even the final sale prices at most of the mall stores had me wondering who would pay so much for something so little. And, when I say little, I mean little.

I mentioned earlier that we were shopping for five nieces, and all of them are under the age of 10. That meant we had to stop in the appropriate clothing departments at the department stores, and, of course, the pastel-colored girly boutiques.

One of the stores had a buy-one-get-one-free offer, which seemed like a good deal. Until, that is, a price tag said the store wanted $24.99 for the girls size 14 T-shirt we were interested in.

I’m no fashion expert, but I do have eyes, and I know that I am about three-times bigger than the girl we wanted the shirt for. I can’t remember the last time I paid over $15 for one of my T-shirts, so I sure the heck wasn’t going to pay $25 for a piece of cotton the size of a dish towel.

I convinced my fiancé to keep her wallet in her purse at that particular store, and we decided there are many better options for finding kids’ clothing than the mall.

So, after starting out slow at the mall, my Christmas-shopping marathon, and my Jeep Wrangler, took a few turns toward the Knollwood Mall and the “Ta, ta, ta, ta, ta, ta, ta, ta, TJ Maxx.” You know, “It’s never the same place twice.”

I don’t know if TJ Maxx is ever the same place twice or not, but, what I do know, is that the store has name brand

clothes for way-cheap prices. And, what do you know, we found gifts for most of the kids on our list.

What we didn’t find at TJ Maxx, we found at the other end of the Knollwood complex, in Kohls.

For a guys like me, discount stores like TJ Maxx and Kohls are the places to shop, and, of course, in Delano, you can’t go wrong with Loopy’s.

Call me cheap, I don’t care. Not everybody can make their own toys like Santa Claus, and who wants to shell out more than they have to on pieces of clothing that are going to be too small for the kid in six months anyway?

Overall, we didn’t spend our life’s savings on one Christmas, and, more importantly, we don’t have to head back to any malls or big box stores to get anymore gifts. That makes me happy.

I guess, since I am finished, or at least almost finished, with my Christmas shopping after one run, my Christmas marathon wasn’t a marathon at all. It was more like a sprint. An eight-hour sprint, but that’s about the pace I’ve averaged my entire life.

Actually, I don’t mind the Christmas shopping experience. I’m not a big fan of handing over the credit card, but there is something almost fun about being out in the rat race with people who are up to the same thing I am.

Maybe that’s because I also got myself a few gifts for all the trouble.

It’s kind of funny, but one of the gifts I got for myself is probably the one gift men and dads all over the world want the least for a gift — a neck tie.

I don’t think my fiancé was impressed with any of the ties I already owned. What a pain in the neck. The tie, I mean.