It’s that time of year again when I am inundated with catalogs for Christmas gift ideas. Apparently, sometime in the past forty years, I have bought something one time from these 100’s of catalogs, and am on permanent mailing status. This is okay, except that I feel the compulsion to thumb through each and every page of each and every catalog lest I accidently miss something.

Don’t get me wrong. I have gotten some great ideas for things I would never have thought of from these catalogs. (I suppose that’s the whole point.) And it’s been kind of nice to just order something and have it delivered directly to my door (or at work since my husband gets very nosy this time of year) and not have to go out and physically shop. At least that’s how things used to work prior to Amazon. It’s just that, over time, these catalogs all start looking alike and start blurring together, and sometimes I’m not sure whether I’ve leafed through a particular catalog or not. Then I have to go through it all again.

I don’t even listen to my own little voice telling me that most of the stuff I have actually ordered from these cheesy catalogs turned out to be junk. For all the disappointing purchases I have made, I have, on the rare occasion, found a true gem, such as . . . well, I can’t think of an example right now, but I’m sure there have been some treasures. But this gets me back to the pressure I put on myself to scan each page. Many times, I will see something that looks interesting and mark the page by folding down the corner, only to go back later and wonder what it was that caught my eye.

But after so many years it’s hard to find anything new or unique. In fact, I’m sure the same exact stuff has been in those catalogs for the last twenty years. Sometimes I can’t remember if I bought a particular item before and end up buying it again because I think it would be perfect for someone. So, if I gave you the same gift five years ago, just chalk it up to my senility. But why do I continue to put myself through this? I suppose it’s because I lack a certain degree of imagination in the gift-giving department. I’m not one of those people who always comes up with the most thoughtful, personalized, creative, yet economical gift, and I struggle, each year, as December seems to come faster and faster, to come up with new ideas. At this point in my life my brain is tired and I need all the inspiration I can get, even if it does require wasting hours of precious time thumbing through catalogs full of junk.

The good news, however, is that since Amazon Prime has been around, I can get ideas elsewhere, then go find the same thing on Amazon and have it shipped free. (The shipping and handling charges in these catalogs often exceeds the price of the items I order.) I only feel a little guilty for doing this because, after all, I did not ask to be supplied with enough catalogs every year to wallpaper my entire house. Yet, I’m not complaining. If toilet paper goes on backorder again, I won’t lack for a plausible alternative.