Utilize tunnel vision to survive holiday shopping

I tend to romanticize the holiday season to an insane degree, thus creating a set of expectations that the holidays cannot possibly live up to.

I close my eyes and see a glistening tree, and glittery snow, the sinful sugary food (which is devoid of calories in my fantasy), a jolly Santa Claus with a round belly and a bag stuffed with gifts in glossy paper patterned with reindeer. The fantasy is warm, and comforting.

Combine my love for the holidays with my love of shopping and I imagine slowly perusing the rows of perfectly merchandised products at Macy’s, waving at the adorable little elves in their workshop while Christmas music plays softly in the background. Oh but the reality is much, much less enticing.

Last year, I began my holiday shopping at Forever 21, which was probably a huge mistake. It seemed that hundreds of women were packed into the store, each with a screaming child on a leash, or in a stroller. The children that were not restrained seemed to be plotting some sort of a mutiny.

As I reached for a sweater that I thought would be perfect for my mother, I was startled by a child in an ill-fitted Santa hat staring up at me like a demon from within the clothing rack. I was so frustrated that I threw my remaining purchases at the child yelling “Back Demon child, back!”

I settled on purchasing a headband for no one in particular, waiting in line, sweaty and angry for 45 minutes only to find that the stupid headband didn’t have a price on it. A disaster.

I then decided to go to Victoria’s Secret, looking for a little Holiday treat for my someone special. As I thumbed through the racks of the red and green under garments, I looked to my left to see two overall-clad men gawking at the breasts on a mannequin. I closed my eyes to take in the music, and realized that these tunes were no longer that of Sinatra singing White Christmas.

No, these were sexed up versions of Holiday classics that made me picture myself on a stripper pole, thus making me feel instantly fat. I ran from Victoria’s Secret faster than you can recoil with horror over the word “panties.”

I fought through crowds of more ankle biters throwing fits over toys, pushed past families who thought it appropriate to simply stop in the middle of the walk way for no apparent reason, and went from shop to shop that had been systematically destroyed by an army of avid shoppers.

I stopped and stared at the mall Santa who looked horribly drunk. And not funny, jolly, drunk. Courtney Love drunk. That was when I gave up. The spell was broken. I was in holiday shopping hell.

This year, I have vowed to adopt a fool-proof technique to battle the holiday rage, a technique that I am calling “holiday tunnel vision.” The trick to beating the holiday headache is to create an impermeable holiday bubble. Create a holiday zen within yourself, a shield of cheer that no demon baby can penetrate.

Start the day with some apple cinnamon oatmeal, or warm pancakes with cinnamon syrup and some peppermint tea. Perhaps watch “Love Actually” while you load your iPod with cheery, innocent Christmas songs. Stuff your pockets or purse with candy canes, and stop at Starbucks, and get yourself a large hot chocolate with extra whipped cream.

Pop in your ear buds and try (try real hard) to tune out your peripheral vision, and just focus on what’s in front of you. I mean, they make children small so that you can easily ignore them if you so wish.

Pick and choose the stores that you want to go to ahead of time to cut down on the wandering, bobbing and weaving through the unkempt masses. When someone cuts you in line, or allows their child to put their sticky hands on your new purchases, pop open a candy cane instead of telling the child that Santa Cause isn’t real.

Try to give yourself a little cheer reward at the end of the day. Perhaps stop by the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and take in the lights, or wander downtown and take a look at the tree. Remind yourself that there is still a portion of Christmas that is untouched by the consumer driven madness, and that part exists within you.

So eat your weight in holiday sugar and try to salvage some cheer. After all this is your holiday bubble and inside it calories and idiots don’t exist.

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