An annual rite is starting again

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 13, 2002

You would think it was December with the amount of Christmas advertising on television and newspapers.

Nope. It's only the beginning of November.

The ads that were once reserved for after Thanksgiving started running at the end of October.

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But this won't be a column complaining about those advertisements.

There really is no point in resisting. I, for one, am glad there are Christmas specials already. I've always started my Christmas shopping early and this year is no different.

I started it this weekend in Rochester with my mom.

I'll admit, hearing Christmas tunes in the dressing room at one store was a little bit jarring. But then I had to remind myself it was November and, really, there are only 44 days left until Christmas.

Apache Mall was packed and you could tell some people were there to seriously shop.

All you had to do was observe the couches in the mall's hallways.

We walked into the mall and a half dozen men in their 60s were seated in couches near the entrance of J.C. Penney. The blank looks are their faces showed they probably had been sitting there awhile.

But I'm sure they were happier sitting in the couches than following their wives around the mall.

As we continued our shopping, I realized I might be getting too old for the stores I have shopped at since high school.

American Eagle has some cute clothes, but I felt a little out of place there Sunday. A girl who was about 12 years old was there with her dad. A group of high school girls were perusing the clearance rack and complaining about their sizes. One girl complained about being a size 6 and simultaneously criticized and complimented her friend for being a size 2.

I'm so glad high school is over.

Which is why I can't stand shopping at another similar store that will go unnamed. Every single branch of this particular store has extremely unhelpful clerks. The clerks, who look like they belong in the store's catalog, seem to be too cool to unlock a dressing room or find another size without some prodding.

Maybe their whole attitude is supposed to contribute to the store's atmosphere.

I don't have the patience for it anymore.

But I really don't want to start shopping at stores that cater to an older age group. Stores that try to appeal to the middle-aged woman are flooded with drab-colored, boxy sweaters with snowmen or fruit designs stitched into them.

I'll put up with snotty clerks as long as I don't have to start wearing that stuff.

Clothing was much easier when I was a kid. Sure, you had to have a Guess? sweatshirt and an Espirit bag, but kids do not dress all that differently now than they did when I was little. Kids still wear sweatshirts and jeans and get by pretty well.

Shopping for my cousin's kids on Sunday was much more fun than shopping for myself. Almost everything in the store was cute and reasonably-priced.

Of course, they won't really appreciate the clothing now. Toys make much more exciting Christmas presents when you're younger.

Although store preferences have changed, the Christmas shopping experience seems the same. Long lines, crowded stores, good sales.

And those that are just along for the ride. When we left the stores close to 6 p.m., another, slightly younger group of men were occupying the couches near J.C. Penney.

Some things never change.

Cari Quam can be reached at 434-2235 or by e-mail at