Ho, ho, ho!

This holiday shopping is requiring more shipping than ever, and it’s making me a little bit crazy.

First, I mentioned that I bought ceramic bowls for my family for Thanksgiving. Well, a couple of those deliveries went smoothly, but then others arrived with no note, and one sister was lucky enough to receive a broken bowl with no note. And that is super-irritating because you don’t want to give someone an extra task at this time of year, but I sent her instructions and a bar code. Then the place that was supposed to accept the return didn’t, and neither did the other place, and the third place would have accepted it, but then the bar code was wrong. At which point I told my sister to give up, and I sent off an angry email that included a lot of caps. They ended up going to one last place to return it successfully. Which is nice, but I was very annoyed that my cute little gesture had turned into a freakin’ pain-in-the-neck odyssey of pandemic exposure.

On Cyber Monday, I was shopping the big retail sales for my Things of My Very Own wish tag girl, and after agonizing over what would be most likely to be appreciated by the widest possible variety of teenage girls (because of course I don’t know her), I finally made my purchase, then immediately remembered I had an unused gift card for that store. So I had to cancel out the first order and make a brand new one. If you have not cyber-shopped on Cyber Monday for vaguely trendy teenage girl stuff, it is a pressure cooker environment. That stuff sells OUT. Speed is of the essence. But I managed to get the items back into my cart and buy all over again. Except apparently since I used our gift card and decreased how much new cash I was spending, my shipping got canceled and now I will have to go to the mall to pick it up. This is absolutely not justice and it may actively be a mistake, but I have neither the time nor the inclination to argue about it, so apparently to the mall I will go. Luckily they have curbside pick-up.

Then, at 10:30 pm on Cyber Monday, I saw that something I really, really want for myself was on sale for 50% off until 11:59 pm. So I ran upstairs to tell Cute W, and . . . he was already asleep. So I bought it for myself and had it shipped to him at his work. A few days later, he called me. He is way more vigilant about tracking packages than I am, and the tracking information said that the package had been delivered, but it hadn’t. Then he realized that it said it had been delivered to Schenectady. Sure enough, after circumnavigating my house I found the box. The label on the box literally read Cute W’s name and his downtown Albany work address, and yet it had landed at our house. How that happened, I have no idea.

On Friday afternoon, J and I did a round of shopping at local stores so that I could pick up a few things for my brother-in-law, who’s my swap buddy this year, and J could take note of any Christmas wishes. We stopped by The Schenectady Trading Company, which is jam-packed with a variety of local stuff — gifts, food, clothing, and more — and also serves as a drop-off for donations to Schenectady Street Soldiers. Then we hit Bear and Bird Boutique + Gallery, which was new to us. It’s got fun, artsy gifts that aren’t necessarily local (although some are). And of course Clinton Street Mercantile, which I’ve mentioned before. When we got home, I was feeling especially triumphant because I’d managed to score some excellent goodies.

Then I walked in the door, and I saw a Universal Yums box waiting on my desk. And I wailed in despair. See, I had ordered a few months of Universal Yums for my nephew’s birthday and Christmas. It is a super, super fun box of snacks and candies from a different country each month, and I knew that his first, an Italy box, was on its way to him. But, no, it had apparently shown up at my house instead of Vermont. Seriously, what the hell? Was I doing something weird? Were my shipping addresses accidentally auto-filling to the default? It only took me a few moments to realize that I’d gotten it all wrong. It was a coincidence that my bosses at KidsOutAndAbout had gifted me with the Universal Yums holiday box. As far as I know, my nephew’s box is still on its way, but meanwhile, it was time for us to celebrate with some snacking!

This is not the complete box, because we’ve eaten some. We’re actually pacing ourselves a little bit, so we haven’t tried everything, although I can imagine that it could be fun to make a full Tasting Event and fill out the Yum Scorecard. This box is a bit different because it’s holiday foods from a bunch of different countries. Right away, we jumped on the French chocolate truffles from Chocolat Mathez, and they were so delicious that Cute W immediately started Googling to find out if we could order more. Reader, I am pleased to report that we can. And possibly he has. I was eager to try the Pop-Smile Salted Egg Yolk Popcorn from Taiwan because it was so weird-sounding. In fact, the concept was so unappetizing to her that J wouldn’t go near it. But I thought it was pretty good, and Cute W said he’d totally buy it again. From England, we got Mocktail Bon Bons from Bristows of Devon. They were delicious. I would like more of them. So far, the box is a huge hit! And I really do love the whole subscription box experience, if you’re still looking for gift ideas.

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