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Why Holiday Shopping is the Absolute Worst Part of the Season

I love the holiday season, but something dark emerges during it that I simply cannot overlook

Why Holiday Shopping is the Absolute Worst Part of the Season

I love the holiday season, but something dark emerges during it that I simply cannot overlook

Andrew Kaczynski on October 28, 2019
Andrew Kaczynski on October 28, 2019

Years ago, I was covered in cold sweat and misery while I sat behind a cash register and rung up countless holiday gifts. I woke up with the worst fever I'd ever had, and even though I called my boss to say I was ill, I was asked to come into work.

The shop was crowded and the sickly sweet smell of vanilla made my stomach turn. The sound of my frantically beating heart was only muted by the shrill screams of teenage girls and poppy Christmas music, and just as that absolutely horrific "All I Want For Christmas" song by Mariah Carey came on, all of the joy in my heart died.

The truth is, I love the holiday season: the lights, the music (for the most part), the cozy clothing, fireplaces, family, and giving gifts to loved ones. But something dark emerges during the holiday shopping season that I simply cannot overlook: People become monsters.

I'm not talking about Black Friday shopping, either. Everyone knows Black Friday is the Devil's holiday, and that it should be avoided at all costs. What I'm talking about is shopping on a regular weekend any time between October 15 until January 4. Something about "the most wonderful time of the year" taps into our primal instincts, forcing us to go into full-on survival mode.

It starts with a strand of lights. You might wander into a home goods store and see they've already put up a fully lit tree. The store's employees smile and cheerily greet you, and you feel a little better about the holiday season starting in the middle of October. But then it hits you. Literally. While you're perusing the kitchenware section, a woman brusquely bumps into you, nearly causing you to fall and take an entire table of china down. Instead of asking if you're all right, she just nudges you out of the way to get a better look at some napkin rings, looking annoyed that you're even in the vicinity. She doesn't even look back to see the defeated look on your face.

You slink off, swearing that you'll actually avoid the stores during the holidays this year. You'll buy everything online.

But then you somehow forget all of that and next year head back to the same mall in the middle of November, figuring you'll purchase a few gifts early. And then it happens.

Pulling into the parking garage, you're greeted by angry honking. You slowly make your way up to the top level since all of the spots are taken, narrowly missing families who jut out into traffic without warning, dodging strollers and children. After 30 minutes of circling, you finally find a spot. But right when you're about to pull in, BOOM, some asshat in sunglasses swoops in and parks. Your blood is boiling, and you haven't even exited your vehicle.

When you finally find a spot, you make your way towards the first shop on your list. But not before getting stuck behind a family who has made it a point to walk as slowly as humanly possible while their smallest child weaves in and out of the crowd screaming for attention.

You constantly have to stop and look around to ensure you're going in the right direction because the shopping center decided that erecting both an enormous snowflake stage and an unnecessarily gigantic Santa's workshop and placing them within 500 feet of each other was a BRILLIANT idea. It's not even Thanksgiving yet, and people are blocking the entire path so that their dogs can have their photos taken with Santa. Kids are screaming, dogs are in strollers, no one seems to watch where they're going, and you haven't even been INSIDE of a store.

Finally, you reach your destination. For a moment, you feel relieved. This is, after all, one of your favorite stores. After you've picked up the couple of items you need for relatives, you decide to head over to the sale section.

You should have known better, really. Going into a sale section at any time of the year is dangerous, but it's nearly lethal around the holidays. As you try to politely move around the gaggle of women blocking the aisle, a small child darts out of nowhere and steps on your feet. The mother doesn't notice.

Slowly, you stumble out of the sale section. Furious, you leave the few gifts you'd selected behind and get the hell out of the store. "Maybe I'll have more luck at the next store," you stupidly think to yourself. How wrong you were.