Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Charles Owens

December 19, 2012

It’s down to six days and counting for frantic holiday shoppers across the region

The clock is ticking. Time is almost up for holiday shoppers, who are becoming increasingly frantic by the minute. Six days and counting until Christmas Eve — a day when many stores will close early. So the challenge at hand is about to get a lot more difficult for area shoppers.

If you haven’t found all of your gifts yet, or are still looking for a gift for that special someone, this is your last weekend to pull it off. It’s six days to go before Christmas. Conventional wisdom would suggest that most of us have already completed our holiday shopping by now, or at least should be almost finished. But let’s face it. There are a lot of last-minute shoppers out there who probably are starting to get a little frantic right about now. If there is a certain hard-to-find gift that you are looking for, it is going to become increasingly difficult to find it as the remaining hours slowly count down to Christmas.

And finding a parking space at the Mercer Mall this weekend won’t be easy. The same goes for the Crossroads Mall in Beckley and the New River Valley Mall in Christiansburg. The crowds inside of the mall should be pretty big this weekend. The same goes for Walmart and Kmart. Good luck if you are out among the masses this weekend. It should be a fun experience if you don’t mind fighting your way through the crowds.

Thankfully, I finally got a flu shot Tuesday. So I don’t have to worry about catching the flu while out and about among large crowds of holiday shoppers — some of whom may be sick. Well, technically I still do, as it takes about two weeks or so before one’s body develops a full immunity against influenza after receiving a flu shot.

Most of my shopping (with the exception of groceries for Christmas Day) is done, and I’m not looking for any of those difficult-to-find gifts this year for myself or others. My family is a lot smaller now, and I have fewer people to buy gifts for. In a way, that is better. At least for the moment. That way you can kind of sit back and think about the real reason for the holiday season, as well as those who you have lost over the years. After all, it’s not just about shopping. It is a religious and holy holiday. Of course I do miss going shopping with my mother. This will be my second Christmas without her. The loss of a parent is a great void that is not easily filled — not even by time. But time itself marches on, and so must those of us who have lost loved ones, including our parents.

But you still can’t escape the shopping aspect of Christmas. And come to think of it I don’t even know what the big holiday gift is supposed to be this year. Tablets are still big, but just about everyone has one already. Those who don’t (like myself) probably aren’t very big on touch screens and motion controls to begin with. Speaking of motion control, the new Nintendo Wii U is supposed to be in demand this holiday season — although I’m still seeing plenty of boxes on store shelves in the region. But once again, I’m not all that big on motion controls, so this new system isn’t even on my radar screen. E-readers are popular once again this holiday season, but I still prefer to have an actual book, magazine or newspaper that I can hold in my hands and read while eating breakfast or lunch.

Call me old fashioned, but I like to have something I can keep over the years. I still have magazines from when I was in high school, and comic books with 10-cent and 12-cent covers (I’ve tried to sell them, but so far no one locally is interested in buying them).

Yes, you can store the electronic book or electronic magazine in your e-reader and call it up whenever you desire, but it’s not the same as actually sitting down and flipping the non-virtual pages while reading a magazine, book or newspaper that you are holding in your hands. Long live the local library.

I’m sure there is some other in-demand holiday gift this year, but I have no idea what it is. It makes you kind of reminisce for the good old days of the Cabbage Patch Dolls and Furby. At least back in those days you knew what you were looking for. Nowadays, I guess we are back to more traditional gifts — clothing, jewelry and electronics. That’s simple enough I guess.

So here we go. Six more days of Christmas shopping to go. If you are still looking for gifts, time isn’t on your side. But we’ve been lucky so far in terms of the weather — so, with hope, the nice weather will hold out for the last big shopping weekend. After that it is a race to head home for the holidays. Of course with Christmas Eve hitting on a Monday, and Christmas Day on a Tuesday, it will be a little different this year. Many folks — including those of us in the newsroom — will be heading back to work on Wednesday morning. There will still be plenty of crowds at the mall and the stores on the day after Christmas, but most will be looking for after Christmas sales, while many others will be waiting in the long gift exchange lines.

Those of us in the newsroom will be looking for headlines instead. It’s all a part of the joy of the holiday season I suppose.

Charles Owens is the Daily Telegraph’s assistant managing editor. Contact him at cowens@bdtonline.com. Follow him @BDTOwens.

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