Friday, December 5, 2008

Shopping Can Be Murder

Now that I’ve got a solid draft of the third Debs book done and to my agents who’ll use their eagle eyes to spot boo-boos, I can finally think of the holidays. Ed’s off today so we’re heading out to get our tree at some point, and I’ll dig out the Christmas decorations from the basement to make the house look semi-festive (I’m no Martha Stewart so “semi” is pretty much it). Then I’ve got to start pondering gifts; although with the tragic news of Black Friday incidents, I’m considering doing all my shopping online.

Um, might I ask what’s up with Black Friday and mayhem? A Wal-Mart worker was trampled to death in Long Island, two men shot each other at a Toys-R-Us in California, and two women were hit by a car in a parking lot in Kansas City all because of cheap electronics and talking Elmos?

Who thought of this Black Friday thing? I’d like to clobber them with a leftover turkey leg. Wouldn’t it be easier on everyone if they just had these super-duper deals starting at regular store hours on Friday and then extending through Christmas (or until supplies ran out)? Then people wouldn’t have to camp out in parking lots for 12 hours or more ahead of time, trying to be first in line. Instead, they could spend more time with their families, which is what the season’s supposed to be about after all. When did things get so crazy? Like worrying about nutball drivers (hello, hang up the cell, please!), the recession, terrorist attacks, pirates, and earthquakes (yes, St. Louis is on a fault line!) isn’t enough. Now I have to fear for my life when I’m Christmas shopping?

Oy! As I’ve said many times to my hubby, I think I’ll just stay home and never go out. It’s a good thing I’m a full-time writer so I could actually do that if I had someone else to do all my errands. Unfortunately, Stephanie Meyer’s assistant is really busy at the moment, and Mary Higgins Clark’s staff won’t work for free. Rats.

I’ve decided I’m going to develop a realistic shopping strategy, one that doesn’t place me in the middle of crazy-busy malls with shopping zealots who’d doubtless slit my gizzard in a fight over a Wii. Last year, I did plenty of on-line and catalogue shopping, but I missed Cyber Monday entirely because of the book and I’m probably a little late for ordering from catalogues. What I want to do is print some of my gift ideas from the manufacturers’ websites, visit local stores that carry those brands, and see if they can order for me. I’d much rather deal with local retailers anyway, particularly ones in my ‘hood. We’ll see if that pans out!

I’m also planning to do some shopping at the area Humane Society (no, not for a new kitty…this time!). They have a cool gift shop, and I’m supporting the organization by spending money there. I’ve got other donation-related presents on my list as well. Last year, I gifted my pig-loving aunt with a three month sponsorship of Snortin’ Norton at a rescue farm. Linda loved getting the card with Snortin’ Norton’s photo, saying “thank you for feeding me--oink!” So if any of my family is reading this, don’t be surprised if you get a card saying you’re the proud sponsor of Chuckles the Chicken or Gouda the Goat. And you’re welcome already.

I’d like to hear from y’all about how you’re changing your shopping habits this year, whether it be because of tight times or mega-mall-phobia. Are you buying on-line more? Making more donations? Doing hand-crafted gifts?

Sometimes it seems we forget entirely what the season is supposed to be about, and it’s certainly not nabbing the lowest price on a flat-screen TV or a new Wii. Have any of you ever scrapped the commercial aspect of the holidays altogether? Or had a truly “green” eco-friendly Christmas? Let me know. I’m game for suggestions on how to enjoy the time of year without the busted budget and all the stress!

Susan McBride's YA series debut with Random House, THE DEBS, features four prep school seniors in Houston clawing their way through their debutante season. A Fall 2008 Kid’s Indie Next Pick, THE DEBS has been called “Gossip Girl on mint juleps.” The second DEBS book, LOVE, LIES, AND TEXAS DIPS, will be out in June of 2009; the third, GLOVES OFF, in March 2010. Susan has also penned five Debutante Dropout Mysteries for HarperCollins/Avon, including TOO PRETTY TO DIE, and has signed with HC/Avon to write a trade paperback beach book called THE COUGAR CLUB, about three forty-something women who date younger men. Visit her web site at for more scoop.

Susan McBride


  1. I'm with you Susan. It's all gotten WAAAAAY out of hand. I feel like shopping has become a competitive sport -- and I'm not athletic :-)

    Marian aka the Northern half of Evelyn David

  2. Actually I was shopping on Black Friday, not because I wanted to be because I was sick, but I wanted to get something for my two granddaughters who were shopping with me that they'd actually like. (Jeans from Pink--is what they picked.)

    We were in Camarillo CA in Target, quite pleasant, people were polite, and ditto when we went to the Oaks in Thousand Oaks.

    Feel for me people, I have 4 living children, 19 grandkids and 11 greats. Believe me, deciding what to do for Christmas is a daunting task.


  3. Marian, it is like a competitive sport! I think that's why I'm so not into it. I used to love shopping, and now I'm very reluctant to hit the malls, etc. The only shopping I do regularly anymore is for groceries, and I even dread going to somewhere like Whole Foods when it's crowded. It's like bumper cars (or maybe bumper carts!).

    Marilyn, you are brave, m'dear! I'm glad y'all found what you needed without much hassle. I'm sure it's like that some places, which is great.

    I'm trying to chill out this year and see if I can't find a way to celebrate the season, be with the people I love, and not feel such pressure to buy, buy, buy. After just finishing a book deadline, I'm exhausted. (Do y'all feel kind of like you need at least a week's vacation when you're done, or is it just me?) I meant to do Christmas cards this year, but that's not happening. Maybe it's time to start some new traditions in our household, ones that require less work and more enjoyment!

  4. In the midst of finishing my fourth book, I took great pleasure in shopping sales online. So, don't tell the nieces and nephews (most of whom can't read anyway) but they're getting a Hanna Andersson Christmas this year. And everything is wrapped! I did a lot of online shopping and god willing, made my last trip to Target yesterday. The decorating needs to start in earnest because I've got two window boxes full of dead peonies...really embarrassing. That's this weekend's chore.

    Yes, the death of that young man on Long Island has left me cold. I'm interested to see, what, if any, repercussions there are of the tramplers actions. In the meantime, we can all just pray that this is the last of this horrible news.

    Everyone enjoy the weekend! And Marilyn, good luck! You've got quite a list! Maggie

  5. Since I'm not really supposed to drive anymore, I did all my shopping online. Much less stressful.

  6. Tori, you are a smart, smart woman!

  7. I, too, am horrified by the Black Friday incidents and am deciding to do the majority of my shopping online. I've done a lot already on eBay, mostly. That's where all the great deals are!--but only if you browse it somewhat obseessively, like me, I must admit--because then, you can stake out what you want and nab it for a low price right at the end of the auction! It's pretty fun, too!
    The lack of humanity associated with the holidays is rather sickening--check out my blog (and, especially, the comment posted by "Tom" for more opinions on the Black Friday mess).

  8. Michelle, I went to your blog...loved your post and Tom's reply. Spot-on! Thank for the heads-up. So nice to know that many of us are thinking the same things. Gives me hope!