O buy, all ye shop­pers

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - SENIOR - By MARY EU

THE IMalaysia Year-End Sale sends my CSI (Con­sumer Sen­ti­ment In­dex) to an all-time high. With ir­re­sistible dis­counts, at­trac­tive pro­mo­tions and re­demp­tions, the urge to splurge is hard to con­tain. As Katy Perry’s Roar fills the air, what­ever reser­va­tions I have to scale down my in­dul­gences be­comes rem­i­nis­cent of Christ­mases past. More­over, it is strate­gic to shop be­fore the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the GST (Goods & Ser­vices Tax). If that isn’t enough to go shop­ping, then the fes­tive year-end spirit brings out the best in even the most re­tail-im­paired (I’m think­ing of my other half).

My cav­a­lier at­ti­tude to­wards shop­ping is in­nate as I am ge­net­i­cally scripted to buy. My mother had in­stilled in me the im­por­tance of groom­ing since I was young. She was not afraid to push the bound­aries when it came to dress­ing up. Al­though she did not have much money, she com­pen­sated for what she did not have with taste and in­ge­nu­ity. She paid ho­mage to fem­i­nine glam­our found in mag­a­zines, movies and tele­vi­sion un­til the last days of her life.

Ap­par­ently, I am a black belt shop­per. Shop­ping is my hobby horse and I pur­sue it al­most pro­fes­sion­ally. My code of ethics in­cludes never leav­ing the mall with­out hon­our­ing my list. And with Christ­mas, the list is as long as my arm. Grate­fully, I have a gem of an as­sis­tant in my youngest daugh­ter who fol­lows me around with nary a sigh. She has the pa­tience of Job and is my trusted groom­ing con­sul­tant.

So with a heigh-ho, I sally forth into the epi­cen­tre of an up­mar­ket depart­ment store to demon­strate my sin­cere com­mit­ment to the sea­son. The aroma of new mer­chan­dise and elab­o­rate win­dow dis­plays pro­pel me to em­brace the Yule­tide fes­tiv­i­ties. Sur­rounded by an ar­ray of choices, I am ir­re­press­ibly up­beat as I im­merse my­self in par­adise.

I pur­chase gifts in a kind of frenzy and pe­ruse them with an in­ten­sity oth­ers de­vote to their pets. My im­pe­tus to binge goes back 35 years, when buy­ing my first bot­tle of French per­fume so boosted my self-es­teem that I was ir­re­versibly con­verted into a spender. There was no turn­ing back – not even af­ter mar­ry­ing a most-sen­si­ble-with-money man who es­pouses fru­gal­ity.

It is not dif­fi­cult to spend. Once you have made the bold plunge of buy­ing a de­signer bag or dress, you have got the hang of dish­ing out the cash. And any mis­giv­ings about swip­ing the credit card rolls away like blocks down an es­ca­la­tor. And if I make a shop­ping blooper, I just hide the of­fen­sive item away or risk be­ing checked into Shop­pers’ Anony­mous by my sig­nif­i­cant other.

It is a bal­anc­ing act as the line be­tween re­ward­ing your­self and over-in­dul­gence is thin. As some­one

with an eye for the finer things, I have walked the tightrope and fallen into temp­ta­tion time and again. On the shop­ping Richter Scale, buy­ing clothes mea­sures 6.0, enough to cause strong tremors in MOTH (My Over Thrifty Hubby). As an un­abashed con­sumer, I view shop­ping as an ex­er­cise that gives the econ­omy a boost. In any case, you can’t re­gret spend­ing while plan­ning another shop­ping ex­pe­di­tion.

Christ­mas is about shar­ing with the peo­ple you love. Giv­ing a gift should be an easy ges­ture. But it can be stress­ful when you care too much about the re­cip­i­ent. You worry whether the gift will make them happy or end up as dead weight. So there I am in the thick of shop­ping and mo­men­tar­ily im­mo­bilised by the plethora of choices. In a mo­ment of am­biva­lence, I take a cue from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s phi­los­o­phy, “The per­fect gift was some­thing you made your­self.” It is sin­cer­ity at its ut­most.

With fash­ion as fickle as it is to­day, it pays to give at­ten­tion to Emerson’s wis­dom of hand­made gifts. I could put my sew­ing ma­chine to use by churn­ing out pil­low cases, cush­ion cov­ers, hair­bands and scrunchies. That would be a labour of love. MOTH would give his nod of ap­proval. Or will he when he re­ceives hand­stitched un­der­wear for Christ­mas?

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