Life

The merits of extreme procrastination, holiday edition

Posted on December 22, 2016

Here’s a confession: I leave my Christmas shopping really, really late every year. I think I’m actually getting worse as time goes on, because last year at this time there were wrapped gifts sitting under the tree and I had already turned my attention to the somewhat anxiety-inducing question of the Christmas dinner menu. This year, with a grand total of three days to go until Christmas, I only just set foot in the stores yesterday, making a frenzied loop through the city in an effort to buy everything on my list in one swoop. I am a master procrastinator, yes, but I also like to think that I am an efficient one.

I expected the experience to be a fairly unpleasant one. I love Rome, but I loathe Via del Corso, the city’s biggest shopping street and home to all the big-brand stores that I generally prefer to avoid (but can never actually manage to avoid). Via del Corso is annoying at the best of times, with throngs of tourists and Romans converging on a street that always manages to feel entirely too full of people. Throw in clusters of shopping bags swinging wildly off everyone’s arms, people barreling out of stores without looking where they’re going and selfie sticks cutting their dangerous arcs through everything, and it all begins to feel a bit obnoxious – and that’s before you’ve even stepped into a store. Italians don’t really handle crowded shopping situations well. They manage to be simultaneously languid and aggressive, holding long group conversations in the narrowest part of the store and then snatching the exact item your fingers were already brushing over from right in front of your face, or sneaking into the line for the cash register ahead of you but then taking half an hour to count out precise amounts of change for their purchase, two-cent-coin by two-cent-coin. If you throw a bit of last-minute holiday panic into all of this, the level of unpleasantness tends to skyrocket pretty quickly.

So frankly, I didn’t really expect the experience of shopping a few days before Christmas to be enjoyable. But then, unexpectedly, it kind of – almost – was. I headed out early, hitting the first shop on my list, in the Prati neighbourhood, just as it opened. I was in and out within five minutes, gift bag swinging from my arm. Half an hour later and I had already worked my way over to Piazza del Popolo and onto Via del Corso, which was flooded with morning sunlight and shockingly empty save for a few other people with determined expressions more or less equal to my own. And if Via del Corso itself was nearly empty, the surrounding streets were completely deserted, quiet and orderly and just waiting for the holiday shoppers to flood their way in.

In one store, generally a madhouse of frenzied shoppers, discarded products and supremely harried salespeople, I was greeted by five separate salespeople – quite possibly a record in Rome  who all appeared reasonably cheerful and mostly willing to be helpful (again, likely a record in Rome). Another store was so empty that I paused for a moment in the doorway, wondering whether it was actually open. Had I actually managed to avoid the pre-Christmas crowds just by doing my shopping at a time when most Romans are still slurping down their first cappuccino of the morning?

The moral of this post probably should have – and would have, had I left the house a couple of hours later that morning – been about how leaving your Christmas shopping to the last minute is a recipe for distress and doom, but… Here’s a confession: Next year, I think I’ll probably end up leaving my shopping to the last minute yet again.

Share this post: Pinterest Facebook Twitter

Comments on this post

Estrella 3 January 2017 at 12:53 pm

I know this feeling of leaving last minute shopping all too well. Thankfully, the handful of people we would normally buy gifts for are not physically here with us, so we took that as an excuse to spoil them with regali until next year, when we see them again.
If you are ever in our side of town (Piazza del Popolo), give us a shout. Would be great to grab a coffee or something & connect. Auguri!
http://www.lacasabloga.com

Leave a comment

Recently Written

Life  |  Travel

Homeland

The day before we leave, the temperature hits forty degrees Celsius and the humidity is clammy and close, inescapable. My suitcase gapes open on the living room floor; the fan whirrs continuously and stirs the air into hot, useless, frantic gusts. I sweat as I fold a jacket and sweater into the suitcase. Outside, the asphalt has gone soft and gummy from the heat. The cicadas in the trees along the river are screeching relentlessly, and the air smells faintly like garbage. I love Rome, but I have also never been quite so glad to escape Rome. Arriving in Vancouver is a...

Life

Two wheels

I didn’t really mean to become a cyclist. It just sort of snuck up on me, stealthily, until one day I was encased in skin-tight spandex and attaching my feet to the pedals with a pair of those special and deadly cycling shoes that simultaneously make riding a bike so much better and also so much scarier. It all started this winter, around the time when I began dating my boyfriend. He had a stack of bicycles leaning against the wall in his apartment and a pretty serious passion for cycling; I asked questions, curious, and perched experimentally on one of...

Life

Here, again

So. Hi! I think you’ve all realized by now that I’m not very good at actually writing in this thing. I have a lot of partially-completed posts lurking on my computer, fragments and half-paragraphs and sentences that sounded like the start of something when I jotted them down but didn’t turn into anything. And for a while that bothered me, because I wanted to write, and I wanted to schedule it out and outline a neat list of topics to follow and, basically, blog like a proper blogger should. But actually? I don’t think I really care about that. Isn’t there...

Travel

Bold and stark: The colours of Burano

Burano is a strange kind of place. If you search for photos of it, you’ll mostly come up with shots of ultra-saturated rainbow-hued buildings bathed in golden sunlight and girls in sundresses twirling cheerfully in front of doorways. Any maybe it’s like that during the spring or summer, when it’s warm enough that your lips don’t feel numb with cold after a few minutes of wandering around – but I was there in winter, mid-January, the deepest part of the season where sundresses and warm sunlight felt like a long-lost memory. So Burano, a tiny island in the Venetian lagoon, felt...

Food

Winter isn’t over yet: A warmly-spiced cookie recipe to keep you cozy

The wind is blowing hard today, a cuttingly cold wind that slices its way down through the narrow streets, slamming shutters back and forth on their hinges and ripping leaves and twigs off plants. The sky is brilliantly, deceptively blue; it looks like a perfect nearly-spring day until the wind gusts again and tips over a parked bicycle while sending a stray plastic bag flying through the air. “Senti che tramontana”, remarks an older man at the market as his scarf whips out behind him. The tramontana is a cold wind that comes from the north, from somewhere cold and snow-covered...

Travel

Venice: The allure of Italy’s most unique city

If you ask me, a good portion of Venice’s appeal lies in that fact that it seems so unbelievable. Here is a city that regularly floods, seawater gushing out of canals and covering sidewalks, creeping under doorways to invade homes and businesses. Here is a city of islands knit together by over four hundred small bridges, a city where water replaces streets, where boats replace cars, trucks, scooters and bikes. Here is a city that seems hostile towards the very old, the very young, the disabled, the distracted, and anyone who has to pull a wheeled suitcase for any distance...

View more posts
Show me posts about...