By Wayland Fong:
I don’t like to shop. But when that time of year for holiday shopping rolls around, a boy has to do what he has to do. I knew I had to get presents for my family and friends, so I took the time to go shopping with a friend to prepare for the holidays.
Being a boy at my age, my guy friends don’t really expect a gift from me. Society has made gift-giving a form of vulnerability and sensitivity that is generally frowned upon in the “bro” community.
I decided to try and find something simple that jokingly poked fun at my friend’s particular love interest at the time to satisfy the male compulsive need to harass each other over girls. As for the ladies, I would find a gift playing on one of our inside jokes.
It bothers me that some people can spend a whole day window shopping to only come home empty-handed, so I made it clear that I wanted this trip to be productive. My friend and I headed to the mall in hopes of finding the perfect gifts. Being the stingy person that I am, I felt reluctant to buy things that were more expensive than the quality Costco-brand items that I usually buy for myself.
But after a few purchases and a cou- ple swipes of my card, I felt less guilty. I stopped thinking about the money that I was spending, but rather the joy I would be bringing into other peoples’ lives. Along with the credit card, I gathered the few clusters of bills I had left from Chinese New Year and wiped out my savings.
Shopping this time of year is always hectic and I braced myself for the crowded stores and long lines. I had an idea of what I was going to get: a basketball for my dad, a stuffed animal for my sister and a scented candle for my mom.
I didn’t realize however, the variety of choices for each gift: basketballs of different brands and specialized for different basketball-playing occasions. At Build-A-Bear, there were so many different kinds of stuffed animals, each with excessive amounts of frivolous accessories. Ultimately, the most difficult buy was the scented candle for my mom.
As I entered Bath and Body Works, I was immediately bombarded with an assault of fruity scents. Standing there, I could feel the store’s aromas quickly draining away all the manliness I had left in me. Looking for the candle seemed even harder, because each candle had its own story behind it, including the exotic place its ingredients were harvested from, the intricate process in making the candle and the different moods and feelings it could generate within a person. In the end, I chose a lavender-scented candle in hopes that its purported calming abilities would work their magic on my mom. We left that day with empty pockets and bags filled to the brim with gifts. I realized afterward that a simple chore of buying gifts could take up an entire day of shopping. When I left, I pictured in my head the surprised faces on my family and friends’ faces when they received the gifts. Just that thought alone reassured me that the day I had spent at the mall was completely worth it. Then I realized that I would have to do it all again next year.