It’s officially THE shopping season. I probably don’t need to tell YOU that. Heck, half of my friends have already finished their shopping for the holidays.

          I’ve always admired people who can shop for the holidays all year long. This is the bunch that is super organized with a well thought out list of recipients and gift ideas. They keep their list handy and use any outing, be it a trip to the grocery story or a vacation to Italy, as an opportunity to mark another item off their list. I’ve been with friends who’ve gasped, “Oh, goody, Safeway has 50 year old Scotch on sale. Now I can get that bottle I want to give to Uncle Luke!”

          I’m not a great shopper. I don’t enjoy the experience that much. I never even enjoyed it when I was younger and could afford and fit into tiny leather skirts or suede coats with tastefully appointed fake fur collars. At one point, I did leasing for a local shopping center and my entire days were spent in stores and around merchandise. You might think I’d be more inclined to shop if I was getting paid for my time while doing it, but I didn’t.

          Having shown my shopping skills are minimal, it might surprise you to learn that I’m a good internet shopper. I’ll match the purchasing power of my fingers with the best of ‘em! At the same time, I’m in good company when I say I’ve had some bad experiences from buying things from online stores, but these have been mainly apparel items. As long as it’s not clothes or shoes, I think buying from the internet is the only way to go.

          They predict paying sales tax for online merchandise will soon be upon us. Until then, I say rev up those search engine skills, research the best deal identifier through-sites and begin to reward those merchandisers who pay for shipping with little or no minimum purchases. There are lots out there. And there’s always e-bay and Craigslist; fun places to shop even if you have to modify some of the specifications you’re requiring.

          Even though I’m not an enthusiastic consumer of clothing, I have enjoyed purchasing household items:  dishes, linens, knick knacks, kitchen gadgets, plants, etc. In recent years, however, I’ve had a somewhat depressing awakening that many of you may have also experienced.

          Since retiring, I’ve noticed there’s nothing I needto buy. OMG, this has been the most discouraging aspect of getting older that no one told me to expect. Obviously, I don’t need work clothes or comfortable shoes for traipsing through my day. I don’t need cute containers to carry lunch items to the office, nor do I need any electronic items for keeping a complicated schedule or task list. Man, it just hasn’t been fun to realize I don’t need yet another set of silverware or placemats, or panties, or umbrellas.

          I was in hog heaven a couple of years ago when I got my cat Kali from the Humane Society, not only for the obvious pet-loving reasons but also because it meant I could go out and buy, buy, and buy:  food bowls, pet beds, mats, snacks, grooming tools and toys, lots and lots of toys. I even had to buy another basket just to hold all the snacks, tools and toys. It was fun, but short-lived.

          These days one of my favorite stores is the bookstore at the Center for Spiritual Living. This is the home of my spiritual community, which was founded by Ernest Holmes. It has lots of books – soothing books, instruction books, history books and books to give as gifts. It also has cultural items from other countries, jewelry and crafts made by talented Center members, and a ton of Gods and Goddesses, Buddha’s, essential oils, and tapes for mediation or relaxation. If I need a gift for a friend, I’m most likely to start at this store.

          I think the future of my shopping will be mostly for others, particularly kids and grand-kids. I’ll never have to worry about running out of things to buy for others. Also, doesn’t giving money count for something still? I think it can be pretty impersonal, but do you really want ME to guess what an 11-year-old boy might truly want? Here’s some money; buy exactly what you’d like and know that I give it to you with heartfelt love and a true desire to celebrate your birthday, graduation, Christmas, etc.

          Oh, and if you’re buying for me, well, like I said, I don’t need anything, so better make it experiential. Let’s have a dinner together, or go to a play, or a casino!