Nightmare on Main Street

Graphic by Chiara Pucci '12

I enter the mall a happy, holiday-spirited teen, ready to buy gifts for Christmas. I leave the mall completely broke and having a major case of “shopping stresses me out” syndrome, which is nearly impossible for a girl to have.

First of all, you should probably know that I celebrate both Christmas and Chanukah even though I am fully Jewish. And by celebrate, I mean we eat lots of food, make a fire, and open presents. Usually I might get a few small gifts during Chanukah. But on Christmas, the real present opening happens. This means I have to buy around eight gifts.

Despite all the Facebook statuses and people at school providing a countdown for me until Christmas, I usually end up going to the mall the weekend before the big day. When I finally get there, I always enter with confidence, ready to find gifts. I am instantly put in the holiday spirit as there are sparkling decorations everywhere and a man dressed up as Santa Claus taking pictures in the middle of the mall.

I start off by entering the Gap. I find a gift for my mom, pay $15 for it, and exit the store with a smile on my face. Soon after, I figure out that I am thirsty and a tad hungry. I buy myself a water and one of those fattening, greasy, degrading-after-feeling pretzels, and then realize that I only have around $30 left and a stomach ache. However, I remain optimistic that I will be able to afford seven more gifts. Then it all hits me. I am standing in target for 45 minutes and I still have seven more presents to buy. I feel like I desperately need to exercise due to that gigantic pretzel I just ate. Suddenly all of the Christmas music and gaudy costumes that the employees are wearing that once were amusing are now completely overwhelming. In addition, not only can I not find any gifts, but I am fighting an extreme mental battle to not spend my money on myself as Forever 21 and H&M are calling my name.

My legs hurt from walking around the mall, I am tired of waiting behind people who are buying a million gifts and taking forever to get their items checked out, and I am irritated that practically all of my babysitting money is gone.

Finally, after I take a deep breathe, I settle on a few small gifts. On the way home, I take out my wallet, hoping that I might open it and see all of my saved up babysitting money. Of course, all I see is a pathetic empty wallet.

So, I make the same plan for next year as I made for this year: I will start my holiday shopping earlier, save up a little more money, and drink a lot of coffee before I go. Yet, we all know that will never happen.