Leather coats three sizes too large? Got it. A honey-baked ham? Why, it's the perfect gift for a decade-long vegetarian. Every year, I wonder how supposed loved ones can have such bad taste and minimal knowledge of each other's personality.
Of course, manners dictate that we effusively praise the godawful gift to their faces -- "The coat fits perfectly, thanks. It'll keep me warm during the long, brutal Colorado winters," or "Oh, I just love meat. I'm going to pick up my delicious honey-baked ham and eat it for dinner tonight" -- while we simultaneously wonder how hard it will be to return without a gift receipt or even knowing what store it came from.
That's Christmas in the 21st century. A time for extravagant gift-giving and furious gift-returning. I like to call it re-shopping, the art of getting things right the second time around.
And while the International Council of Shopping Centers' annual survey doesn't rank the day after Christmas as one of the ten busiest shopping days of the year, anecdotal evidence suggests otherwise.
"The day after Christmas is always a very busy day here for people exchanging or returning gifts," says Cherry Creek Shopping Center spokeswoman Lisa Herzlich. "And a lot of people who got gift cards or gift certificates will be out shopping for things that they really wanted but didn't get."
If only we could all be that lucky. But there is one glimmer of hope: post-Christmas sales.
"In real estate, the saying is Œlocation, location, location,'" says Herzlich. "But in retail, the day after Christmas means sales, sales, sales."
And we're not just talking about Gap's crazy Fair Isle scarves marked down from $39.50 to $16.99. We're talking about stocking up for Christmas 2004.
"There are people who start buying for next Christmas this December 26," says Herzlich. Frightening.
I, for one, will be sad when the millions of twinkling white lights, miles of garland and thousands of red ribbons that add such a festive flair to our city are stashed away until next Halloween. But not to worry: Most of the local malls are planning on leaving their decorations up at least through January 4 -- plenty of time to finish your re-shopping to the never-ending canned renditions of "Let It Snow."
Many happy returns.