‘Tis the season to go shopping

Shoppers, start your plastic. It is just the most fun time of year. It is the one extended period when we can spend hours and hours strolling through every store we love and some we don’t with an absolutely altruistic motive that makes anything we purchase an act of absolute altruism. It just doesn’t get any better than that. I suspect it rivals being paroled after several months in jail. Suddenly, all those instincts you have to squash on a daily basis are now a worthy skill.
I must admit that in recent years, I have become more and more inspired to save every shekel I can get my hands on for about 10 months because the sales this time of year are getting better and better. Of course, 75 percent off a $700 pair of running shoes is still out of my price range, but it makes it tempting.
Even with the carte blanche of gift shopping, making a purchase is a tricky business. Everything I buy must fall within a small slice of the value spectrum in which quality/appeal overlaps cost. If it can be had for a song, the scale can tip toward impracticality. However, the higher the cost, the more it must be machine washable, library bound, hand-sewn or tailored to make me look 18 again. With my attitude, it’s a wonder I ever shop retail.
All this usually leads to my annual holiday pilgrimage to the nearest $1 store, several thrift stores and the $1 bins wherever I can find them. We give “big” presents too, but the most fun is filling (and then emptying) those bottomless stockings. I used to come painfully close to bankruptcy until I discovered these lovely shopping potpourris. Not only can you fill a bag for $20, but you come home feeling deliciously smug at the swell bargains you found on things your family didn’t even know they wanted.
Our manic-depressive mug collection is a testament to this, as is the fact that we all have personalized freezer cups, popcorn bowls and a host of sleep shirts with silly sayings on them. Thanks to these bargain spots, my daughter has 42 shades of nail polish at last count. We also own enough tissue wrapping paper to wrap the nearest shopping center and enough ribbon to recreate Running Fences down the 78 corridor.
I have no regrets and you will find me back wandering those aisles again this year. I am sure my family still needs several boxes of cotton balls or a new pair of goofy flip flops.
 Jean Gillette is a freelance writer and blissed-out bargain hunter. Contact her at jgillette@coastnewsgroup .com

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