It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. . . and so begins Dickens’ great Tale of Two Cities. He was writing in the nineteenth century about the eighteenth century, but it seems he could have been writing about the twenty first century. It’s a fabulous time of year, the sights are spectacular, the aromas surround us, people are wearing fuzzy hats and furry boots and children are riding brilliantly coloured sledges and toboggans in the snow. In the run up to Christmas the toy stores, grocery stores, and department stores are counting on making half their profits for the whole year. The world of electronics is off the board with gadgets of every kind, toys for every child’s whim and tools that capture our grown-up imagination. It’s become normal, it’s sensational, but it’s out of control. People are struggling financially to make ends meet, and we are still running around trying to have the same kind of holiday season we think everyone expects us to have. The UK newspapers write about the “Big Chill” and how middle class families are among millions of Britons who cannot afford to heat their homes this winter, and the elderly ride on buses all day to stay in the warm. What is wrong with this picture? How can we be mindful of the true suffering of others?
So many parents are genuinely concerned about the current economic crisis. It has infiltrated our television and newspapers and provoked a huge degree of unease. Many of us are having trouble making ends meet this Christmas, so let’s try to reduce the stress that comes from having to buy presents. Here are some tips to spend less time and money on shopping in crowded stores and reduce the stress that is related to it.