In Plain View: Christmas shopping as a 40-something man-child

While some might dread it, I am not opposed to Christmas shopping.

Perhaps it has to do with the stimulation of a much atrophied hunter/gatherer instinct – spending hours that seem like days, travelling from store to store, mentally blocking out the infinite loop of tinny sounding Christmas carols playing in the background while driven by some biologically pre-programmed determination to locate that perfect, or at least pragmatic, gift to bring home.

And that’s not even taking into account the survival of the quickest that is holiday parking at the shopping malls.

OK, so maybe I’m not entirely crazy about Christmas shopping.

I do, however, enjoy seeking gifts for my son who, as it happens, is into a lot of the things I was into around his age: Star Wars, superheroes, Lego, video games, etc., all of which are still well represented in toy and electronics sections.

I don’t doubt a lot of these retro-inspired toys are just as much targeted at people my age as they are to our kids. (Yes, I can admit to owning a Star Wars lego set or two, though they stay in my son’s room so they’re not just gathering dust.)

Related: Column: Pondering the gift that got away and turkey stuffing

I suppose it’s partially my fault that my son’s generation has few pop-cultural playthings to call their own – their choices limited by a market driven by the nostalgia of my fellow 40-something man-children, along with a lack of imagination from toy manufacturers.

This doesn’t seem to bother my son though and, when he unwraps his gifts from Santa, it’s an exciting time for us both.

Related: Gifts that give instead of taking

My dad was a keen Christmas shopper when it came to toys and gifts. I wonder if he too enjoyed the hunt? He never really seemed interested in the toys themselves. Mind you, a few years back, I found The Vancouver Museum had acquired a Woodward’s employee manual issued to my dad in 1958. In the manual, he is listed as a part-time sales clerk in their toy department.

Finding that manual felt as though I’d received another Christmas gift from my dad – a moment of awe and excitement segueing to exhilaration.

Maybe this is what drives the hunt – what makes Christmas shopping bearable – being able to share such a magical, memorable moment with my son. And when I’m done unwrapping my toys…


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