Christmas is in a few days, and judging by the parking lot at the mall, this has come as a MAJOR surprise to many, many people. It's the 25th of December, same as always, and yet it appears to have caught plenty unaware. Again. I can understand the grocery store being busy, there's some stuff you just can't get more than a couple of days before using. (Bean sprouts and raspberries? I'm looking at you.) But if you are buying a gift, you probably knew for the last 51 weeks that Christmas was coming.
I used to work in a record store, when I was in university. (The fact that it was a "record store" should give you some indication as to how long ago it was.) The store specialized in classical and jazz music, and it was a fabulous job.
We were open until 6:00 pm on Christmas Eve, and every year the most amazing phenomenon would happen: things would be fairly steady until about 1 or 2 pm, and then quiet down, but at 3:00 the place would completely fill up. With men. Desperate, serious, driven men, men who knew that they had left shopping for their wife's present WAY too late, and had to get something suitable in the next hour or face a year's worth of cold, quiet loathing. Again.
And we could sell those guys anything. They would buy whatever we told them was good. It seemed to me that every single one of those men somehow felt that the lateness of their purchase, and the guilt that ensued, could be most easily offset by throwing wads of cash at us...the more expensive the record, the better."See this Beethoven boxed set that sells for $300 that we've been trying to unload since March? She'd love it. In fact, you should get all of Mozart's operas, too."
What with it being Christmas and all, we did try to keep ourselves in check, and not take advantage of the sweaty, middle-aged guy waving his gold American Express card like a white flag. But on the other hand, most of them were begging for it: "Are you sure this is enough? Maybe I should get MORE!"
Occasionally, we would get a man who wanted to get a gift certificate for the woman in his life, and, since this was before computers, we would hand write the date on the top with a little note to ask the recipient to use it within the year. Almost every man asked if we could put the date a few days before, so that the recipient would not know that he bought it on Christmas Eve. Because if there's anything that says "I love you, Merry Christmas", it's a forged document designed to manipulate your life's partner into thinking you are a better person than you are.
At least these guys were out getting a present at all, even if it was at the 11th hour. I'm sure the 7-11 is pretty full after Midnight Mass with some poor slob who forgot to get something for his wife or girlfriend. A record, any record, is better than the Juicy Fruit and air fresheners that she's going to get.