A Word on Window Shopping

Pasargad Galleries display Christmas 2013

This Christmas display near my bus stop features a penguin family (bottom right), jungle animals, and a teddy bear chandelier. Whimsical feels like an understatement.

About this time of year, my Slow Christmas resolve crumbles and I’m sorely tempted to channel all the holiday cheer and good humor I feel into buying things. The fuzzy fox ornament at the boutique I passed the other day was quite possibly the cutest thing I’d ever seen, and after all, what’s $14 in the grand scheme of things?

But when I can take a step back, it’s not really the buying that gives me a rush. It’s the visual feast that is walking down a dark sidewalk past lighted shop windows. The good news is you can enjoy the greenery, the ribbons, the sheer physical beauty without buying anything. All it takes is a little practice.

Recently, we had an unexpected “snow” day that turned out to be more drama than ground cover. So the spouse and I took a long walk in the late afternoon. We saw a number of excellent dogs out walking with their owners who were liberated from work. We saw a truly amazing window display in an oriental rug shop, complete with a stuffed penguin family walking on clouds, suspended from the ceiling with ribbons. When we got cold, we picked up a hot drink and kept walking.

There was a moment where we went into a boutique with all sorts of charming things, from fedoras to pretty dresses to a miniscule stuffed sheep with a quizzical look on his face. I wanted it all, everything in the store. The truth is, commercialism does not just come in the shape of the Merry Christmas USB seat cushion warmer or the ugly Christmas sweater bought solely for one theme party. Commercialism can be classy and well appointed too. I give you exhibit A: this Welcome to Merryville video from Anthropologie. It’s downright charming. I can almost forget that it too is selling me stuff.

But that’s the beauty of window shopping. Think of it as methadone for your Christmas consumer itch. You can watch the charming Anthropologie video, you can wander through the boutique with the plush animals, the scarves, the vintage tie clips, the rose-shaped earrings. You can stick your nose in jewelry store windows with ruby rings artfully balanced on pine cones encrusted with snow. You don’t even have to feel guilty about it. As long as you don’t take it home with you. That’s the only rule. Because once it leaves the shop window, you will find that it loses its magic. Since only 1% of all the stuff in the consumer market is still in use six months after it’s bought, the odds are stacked against your new find. But if it stays unpurchased, you have 100% satisfaction guaranteed, and no chance of remorse. What could be better than that?

So the next time you’re feeling the itch, grab a dear friend or relative and a hot beverage, and set out for a nice round of window shopping. Leave your credit card at home if it helps. If you’re feeling the urge to procure, run don’t walk out of that store. It takes practice, but soon you’ll only be buying the things you know for certain will be the 1% that you’ll really use.

One thought on “A Word on Window Shopping

  1. I absolutely agree with you! When I was a kid, finances kept us from buying really much at all, so out of necessity, we did a lot of window shopping. It was also before malls, and folks walked downtown and looked at all the things and lights at Christmas. It was for me a magical time and one I will never forget.

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