There are those who would argue that waiting till the day before Christmas to do one’s Christmas shopping is the mark of a thoughtless and perhaps careless individual. We agree, there is a segment of the late-shopping public that, in the parlance of crime-scene TV dramas, fits that profile.
Also, it should be acknowledged up front that for many people, waiting till the last minute to do anything—especially something as essential and fraught with meaning as buying holiday gifts for loved ones—is likely to cause stress and frustration.
But it must also be acknowledged that there is a vital and discerning subculture of last-minute shoppers for whom the exultation of Christmas Eve gift buying is the pinnacle of shopping thrills.
If you have always dreaded the tedium of trudging through malls or wandering aimlessly around big-box stores in search of inspiration for what to buy dear old Dad, sweet old Mumsy, innocently avaricious little son/daughter/niece/nephew or already-got-it-all bro or sis, you may be a potential member of the league of last-minute shoppers.
Your faithful correspondent inadvertently discovered the arcane but undeniable satisfactions of Christmas Eve gift shopping a few decades back when a surprisingly generous but dismayingly late-coming Christmas bonus coincided with the holiday, and I have been refining my technique and defining the optimum boundaries of my shopping experience ever since.
So I can tell you on good, time-tested authority that of all the insights gained over my years of satisfying Christmas Eve shopping, the most essential is that you find a shopping area that offers a maximum of gift-buying opportunities and a minimal necessity to change locations by having to drive your vehicle of choice from place to place.
Some readers will logically leap to the conclusion that I would suggest the nearest mall as the ideal for convenience and variety. While I sympathize with that choice, and have indeed purchased more than one last-minute present at either the North Valley Plaza or the Chico Mall over the years, those are not the destinations that spring to mind when I think of Christmas Eve gift shopping.
No—for a complete and full-spirited experience of Christmas Eve gift shopping, one must interact with the elements. Opening umbrellas and donning rain slickers enhance the experience. Striding down glistening sidewalks eying storefronts and cheerfully nodding to fellow shoppers is essential.
In short, spending Christmas Eve shopping in downtown Chico is one of the best and most productive holiday activities imaginable.
And so, without further ado, here is a pictorial list of places to check out if you find yourself needing—or, even better, choosing—to find gifts on the day before Christmas.