Subourbon Mom


10 Commandments of Christmas Shopping at The Mall
December 17, 2019, 5:00 pm
Filed under: shopping | Tags: , , ,
  1. 1362777490homepage_brioI am the mall.  Thou feareth me and loveth me. I am the mall.
  2. Thou shall bring no false values before me, like budgets or credit limits.
  3. Thou shalt not take my name in vain, especially when referring to the unbearably long list of Christmas errands you still have to do because you waited until the last minute. It is not my faulteth you procrastinateth.
  4. Remember Black Friday, and keep it holy.
  5. Honor thy sales and thy markdowns.
  6. Thou shalt not kill…time hanging out in Starbucks or restaurants. Thy shopping list loometh.
  7. Thou shalt not steal thy neighbor’s parking spot when clearly, his indicators blinketh.
  8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against The Mall.  Own up to where you have been; likewise, own up to the time thou killed while chatting with thy neighbor instead of shopping, and the silver thou hast spent.
  9. Thou shalt not covet thy fellow shopper’s loot. They arrivethed first.
  10. Thou shall visit no other retailers but me, especially not Amazon, Wal-mart or Target.


The Best Catalog Ever

The holiday season is upon us. Christmas music plays incessantly on local radio stations, pumpkin spice everything has been replaced with cinnamon everything and the marketing onslaught is in full swing.

Now I’m all for marketing – a store’s got to do something to get your attention amid the mind-boggling Elf on a Shelf displays. But come on, Marketers, every day can’t be “The BIGGEST SALE EVER.”  I don’t care how much your store has to sell by the end of the year – no marketing email should ever be labeled URGENT unless Victoria has decided to reveal her secret, or I’m getting something good for free that doesn’t include shipping or some God-awful tote bag I’ll never take in public.

Along with emails, the catalogs are also rolling in faster than sexual harassment accusations in the media.

In two days I got 19 catalogs in the mail. That’s right…19 catalogs. But the number of catalogs isn’t what I’m here to write about. In fact, I love looking through them every morning while I drink my coffee. (Catalogs are window shopping for people who have an aversion to other people.) It’s funny how at this time of year I will actually consider buying weird, only-funny-to-me gifts that I would never spend the money on at any other time. In previous years I’ve ordered squirrel spray, Sasquatch Band-Aids and key chains with made up nicknames on them.

But in this latest batch of shopper’s crack, I found two catalogs whose marketing teams failed (in my humble opinion).

When I saw this cover on a catalog for toy horse models, I couldn’t decide who the target audience was – was it kids who want to be like this model with the BRF, who clearly would rather be anywhere else? Or parents who want to believe their twelve-year-old still plays with model horses instead of obsessively checking the likes on her Finsta? (I have nothing personal against this model – she’s obviously very attractive and was told how to pose and smile.) Perhaps a better image for the cover would have been a younger kid happily playing on the floor on a rainy day with all the crap in the catalog. To the parents it says, “You are buying yourself some peace and quiet.” To the kid, it says, “This will bring you happiness until you can wear them down and they give you your own pony to keep in the garage.”

The other cover fail was on this American Girl catalog:

Nothing says I’m a stalker like hugging your best friend while also clutching a doll that looks and dresses exactly like her.

But in all of this marketing blitz, I realized there is a catalog I have never received, that I think a lot of people might want to order from as well. It’s filled with all my favorite things that I can’t by in a store, like these:

  • Life do-overs
  • The smell of my mother’s garage
  • Knowing how to speak and understand animals in their language
  • The ability to fly
  • One consequence-free bitch slap on the person of my choice
  • Opportunities to suck words back into my head that should never have escaped
  • Time to spend with those who aren’t here anymore
  • Dog kisses
  • An interview with King Arthur
  • The feeling you get when you snuggle with your kids

 

What would your catalog have in it?

 



Myth: Fake Christmas Trees Are Like Fake Boobs – You Can’t Tell the Difference

This year I made it my mission to convince our office manager Lacy that she should get a real Christmas tree instead of using the same old plastic one she’s been using for the last few years. After an hour of nagging and convincing her that a real tree smelled better and was a better way to enjoy Christmas, Lacy gave in and got one. When she explained to the folks at Lowes (she went to a store, not even a place outside – mistake #1) that she had never picked a live tree before, and asked who had the most experience with picking out live trees, a German man said “I don’t” and immediately walked away. I don’t think he got the irony that the live Christmas-Tree-in-the-House tradition comes from Germany.

What I didn’t realize was the amount of basic Christmas Tree Knowledge I have accumulated over the years, and that I probably should have passed on:

PICKING OUT A TREE:

Size Matters:   Decide what room you’re going to put it in BEFORE you go shopping.  A fat tree in a little room is like Donald Trump’s ego in an election – there isn’t room for anything else.image001

Trees are not naturally symmetrical.  Even the trees trimmed to look like perfect cones will never be perfect. The fun part is finding the most perfect one you can. This can be difficult at the places where the trees are wrapped and leaning against the wall, like, say, your local grocery store. To get the full experience of arguing for 30 minutes in the cold over which tree to get, you must suck up the cost and go to a place where the trees are set up on stands, as if they are ready to decorate, or better yet, in the field where you must cut them down.

IMG_0128
Trees Get Bad Haircuts Too – Sadly, the two-week rule doesn’t apply. Most live trees come with a bad side – that side where the branches don’t fall right and there’s a hole.image005

This is the side you turn toward the wall when you put it up, or if it isn’t going against the wall, you find your fattest, heaviest ornaments to make the branches dangle over the hole. (These ornaments, along with the most fragile ones, will be the ones the cat goes after.)

What About Bugs? Some tree vendors will do the Tree Shake, which entails putting the tree on a spike attached to a generator that shakes the tree so hard that it looks like Beyonce twerking, until all the loose needles and bugs fall out – of the tree, not Beyonce. If your vendor doesn’t do that, you can console yourself with the fact that the fallen needles will make your vacuum cleaner smell good for months.

image004Net or No Net?  I recommend getting one, even though it might ruin your Norman Rockwell vision of a Christmas tree strapped to the roof of your car. The net is crucial to getting the tree through the door and easily sitting in its stand. Trying to get a tree through the door without the net is like trying to thread a needle with a sausage.

SETTING UP YOUR TREE

Size matters – again.  Tree trunks come in varying sizes and diameters, and they often come with branches sticking out of the bottom. Trim the branches at the bottom – you’ve heard the adage, “trim the bushes to make the deck look bigger“ – well, we don’t need the stand to look bigger, but we do need the tree to glide into the hole smoothly.

image001Getting the tree to stand up straight in the stand is usually a deal breaker – worse than hanging pictures on a wall. This task is for the patient and determined. If you’re like me and not allowed to go into the car dealership because you get too impatient to sit through the deal-making process, sighing and rolling your eyes for the entire three hours, this may not be the task for you. Some tips:

Wear gloves! Christmas trees look and smell great, but their trunks are covered in sap that is harder to remove from your hands than the image of Miley Cyrus twerking from your memory.

 

image004When you’ve given up and decided that tree that leans is now “charming,” make sure the tree doesn’t fall by tying some part of it to the wall. If you have cats or dogs, this is a must – they will find a way to bring that big green monster to the ground, and then skitter your breakable ornaments over the floor for the next two days.

FEEDING YOUR TREE

To determine if the tree needs water, you have to see how much water is left in the stand each morning and evening. Checking the water level for a live tree requires freakishly long arms and a relationship with your tree. As Lacy said, “I feel like I’m feeling up my tree.” Would that be second base? IMG_0171

Watering the tree requires the ability to slither along the floor and pour a pitcher of water into the stand without spilling any. I recommend placing a piece of plastic under the stand, hidden by your tree skirt to prevent any stains on the carpet from water spills. image005I also recommend getting one of the tree watering tubes that blend in with the branches, the top of which sticks out for easy access.

Check your tree for tree food – some vendors provide it. The tree food is the little white thing on a random branch that you thought was the price tag.

If all of this seems like too much of a hassle, and you want to go back to taking your tree bits and pieces out of a box each year, and putting it together like a Tinker Toy that’s fine. I totally understand. Nothing says Christmas like a plastic tree with “Sensicles” hanging discreetly among the branches so that the whole house smells like fake Christmas.

Perhaps Lacy said it best when she was describing the experience of getting a live tree vs. setting up a plastic one: “It’s like trying to pick an animal out from the pound, but it’s such a pain in the ass I want to give it back.”

Well, I’ll take my temporary, evergreen mutt with its holes, dropping needles and intimate watering/groping sessions. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. Your plastic tree may make your house look like it was decorated by Southern Living, but my tree reminds me that life goes on, even in winter.

image001

 



The Buzz About Brookstone’s Catalog

About two days ago I realized I was in deep trouble. I don’t mean trouble like I’m going to jail for hacking into Sony, or for thinking out loud that Odell Beckham isn’t the Second Coming. I’m in trouble because there is no way I’m going to get everything done before December 24th.

This working full-time thing has given me a new respect for the moms and dads that make it all happen–how they manage to decorate their houses so that it looks like Christmas threw up in their house is beyond me. So this year I took to ordering from catalogs. One of the catalogs we received in the mail was from Brookstone. For those of you who haven’t seen the inside of a mall in the last ten years, Brookstone is a mall store that sells quirky, high-tech gifts like wireless gummy bear lights and snorkel masks with waterproof cameras attached.

They also sell personal massagers.

Now y’all, when I think of personal massagers, I think of winning the lottery and having a handsome Swede (a la Alexander Skaarsgaard) rubbing my poor, aching muscles after a long workout at the gym. Brookstone clearly does not share my vision of what a personal massage should be.

Brookstone has been selling these massagers for years. The catalog pictures usually feature a pretty lady in a towel gently running this massager that looks like—well, let’s say like a microphone, over her shoulder or neck. Like I said, not my idea of a personal massage.591867p

The personal massagers in the catalog are also waterproof. My idea of a personal massage is not waterproof—but if I was to have a waterproof personal massager, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking something like that into the shower with me for fear of being electrocuted—unless it was the Swede.

This year, Brookstone has expanded their collection, and it’s really rubbing me the wrong way. In fact, I can’t understand why there hasn’t been more buzz about it. This year, Brookstone is offering several types of personal massagers. In fact, there are too many to talk about here, but if you look online, you will be amazed. Trust me.

The ones in my catalog tended to be in pastel colors, shaped like an egg, and like the others, are waterproof. One of them even has a “porcelain-like finish.” But here’s the interesting part: they can be controlled remotely through an app on your phone, and by more than one person. Now, I’ve been to a lot of orthopedic-related doctors and physical therapists, and I never saw any of them break out one of those babies during an appointment. I’ve certainly never seen a someone remotely activating a shoulder massager for someone else. I’m just sayin’…

Now, I don’t mind that Brookstone is selling these personal massagers—way to go Brookstone, making pleasure available to the masses. What I mind is that they are in stores for people to pick up and fondle, like they do all the other merchandise. There’s already something disturbing about seeing a bunch of people sitting in the massage chairs with their eyes closed, all washed out under the glaring store lights–never mind that 50 other people have sat there before them, greasy hair resting on the same, vibrating pillows. brookstone_shopper_in_massage_chair_in_argentinaI definitely do not want to see these same people handling personal massagers—especially if it’s my Swede.



What A Crock

In the days immediately following Christmas, I turned the national news on and saw that the scrubs were in for the usual anchors.  I should have known right then to just turn it off, but like a driver passing a wreck, I couldn’t look away. I watched as some intern’s work went out over the air, and I cringed.

Lobsters

The anchor was reporting on the delays UPS and Fed-Ex experienced during the holidays, explaining that bad weather, a shortened shopping season and the massive on-line purchases contributed to the delays. Naturally, it followed that they would interview someone who had been inconvenienced. Unfortunately, they chose to interview one of their employees, who was complaining that the dozen or so fresh lobsters she’d ordered for her Christmas Eve dinner were delivered after the event, and her Christmas was ruined.

I’m sorry…a dozen fresh lobsters?

Wow. Her life is HARD.

Nice choice, editorial staff. Way to make a point.

Disgusted, I turned off the news and continued to avoid the holiday clean-up ritual by incessantly playing Candy Crush and Pet Rescue Saga.

A few days later, I was surfing FaceBook (more procrastinating), and I came across the following news report:

Ohio Wife Torches Husband’s Truck After Getting Crock Pot and Cheap Lingerie for Xmas  (thelapine.ca)

DAYTON — Police arrested 34-year old Tracy Waters yesterday morning after she allegedly set fire to her husband Dave’s 2013 Chevy Silverado Crew Cab in a rage over her Christmas gifts.

“He gave me a slow-cooker and these red nylon crotchless panties with a push-up bra,” Mrs. Waters told police.

“The bra had tassels for fuck sake. Tassels.”

Police have charged Mrs. Waters with arson, assault with a weapon (“a 4-gallon ceramic crock pot with corn-on-the-cob pattern”) and using foul language in public.

Mr. Waters told the Dayton Daily News that he was excited about his gifts for his wife and doesn’t understand why she became angry and turned violent.

“Good food, good lovin’, and a good truck were all I wanted for Christmas,” said the 37-year-old warehouse worker sporting a swollen-shut right eye.

 

Seriously, you can’t make that stuff up.

These are the people I want to see being interviewed on the national news. When I read the article out loud to Hubby (before thinking it through that our daughters were also in the car), nobody asked why nylons would be crotchless, or why anyone would want tassels.  I was grateful and horrified at the same time.

Hopefully, they also now know that a crockpot counts as a deadly weapon.

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