O buy, all ye shoppers
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?