JJ Vincent loves being able to have the holidays delivered in discrete, brown-and-black striped boxes.
I’m starting this with a disclaimer about Shop Local: I am a Small and Local. But I am also a Realist. Small, local, and (possibly) handmade just does not work for everyone, and for others, they want items to make their own small, local, and handmade goods.
So to a bunch of our friends and family, on Decemeber 25th , we’ll bid you Merry Amazon Box Day.
It’s the day when you get to open all of those brown-and-black striped boxes that have mysteriously appeared at your doors, possibly sharpied with indecipherable code and symbols.
I’m not sure that December is an easy month for anyone. It could be your own holiday rush, or other people’s. You might be covering other people’s shifts, helping them get organized, helping them get around, helping their kids get around. You might have family to plan for-an invasion of 15 people over 4 days staying for 3 days between 4 locations, or a 300 mile road trip with two kids through questionable weather. You may be flying solo and looking forward to a few days of having nothing to do, or wishing you could just dodge the holidays all together.
Or you may be full of the holiday spirit, desiring to give and hoping to hear about happy…and unwilling to fight with everyone else who is on the roads and in the stores and the post office, or despairing of when you will get to, because you work until midnight or the nearest place to do anything is 30 miles away and takes in its sidewalks at dark.
My partners and I are big fans of this. We don’t live in big cities, and even if we did, several of the requests we get each year are not easily found in even a local big box (men’s woven cotton night shirt, no flannel or jersey? Dr. Who blanket? book published by small, independent press?). We’re very fond of getting emails with links in them to 75 item wish lists. We hate hearing these people called “greedy”, because we love getting a a personalized catalog to shop from. We’d rather that than send a gift card or something that’s going to end up in a regifting Dirty Santa next year.
Last year, we started Amazon-ing in earnest. We showed up at his mother’s house on Christmas Eve to find most of our gifting in neat crispy boxes (which we would use for shipping and storage throughout 2013). Some items got wrapped, some got attacked with markers. Our stress had been cut by 75% and we were able to get, with utter precision, the brand and sizes of certain items required to make her happy, reducing the risk of Standing in Line Trying To Return Things (and the resulting stress). Other .coms has responded similarly, although ones using “tearproof, waterproof bags” might want to improve their products.
Note: When you are having a bicycle shipped, there is no good way to hide it. Don’t even try.
Family up home? Yep, they got their stripey boxes, along with the much-smaller-than-usual hand-packed parcel. I’m sure their delivery guy was happy to be depositing a 20lb box rather than the usual 60lb behemoth (no, I am not kidding).
Our gas bill went down, and if we didn’t get off work until 10:45, no big. The internet is open 24/7.
I’ve heard the arguments against online shopping, what it does to local businesses and small retailers, how the Big Online Monster Stores are selling at prices that they can’t compete with.
In large part, I agree, and I advocate for shop small and local (and do) whenever I can. But for people who work odd hours, are largely or fully shut-in, have location or transportation issues, or can’t, for one reason or another, handle noise and crowds, online shopping has been a huge blessing. For convenience and time-saving, ditto.
We are home more and frantic less. It takes some planning (shipping time) and a little research (cheaper here or there, including shipping), but it beats running from store to store or flipping through weekly reams of paper.
It lets us run more efficiently. It lets our holidays run more efficiently.
Because while there is a movement towards eliminating gift-giving and disposing with the trappings of the holidays, we’re not part of it.
We like December. We like making people happy.
We like it even better when part of it arrives courtesy of a few handy clicks and a mail carrier or three.