The gift of courtesy

We are entering a crucial stage in the run-up to Christmas: the time when we have to decide what presents we’re going to give and then go out and buy them.

Considering that Christmas heralds the season of goodwill to fellow men and women, the stress it can create can very quickly turn us from kind, considerate human beings into angry, impatient animals. The heaving of the crowds of shoppers, the unbearably harsh lighting of large stores and shopping malls, the long queues at the check-outs, the even longer queues to get in and out of car parks – there’s little enjoyment in it.

And then there’s the disappointment. The shops have sold out of what you want to buy and are awaiting further deliveries, but can’t guarantee when they’ll be in. Do you buy something else or risk waiting until next week? But you’ve got a headache from all those people and that harsh shop lighting. You just want to go home.

It’s no surprise that in situations like this, courtesy and polite behaviour disappear as shoppers start to rage. There are few please and thank yous to be heard in all the rummaging and scuffles.

Whose fault is it? The shops for not anticipating such heavy demand? The shoppers for leaving their shopping too late? It’s probably a bit of everything really.

Christmas is always a mad rush for retailers. And in recent years, it has become harder to predict as shoppers delay purchasing as late as possible to take advantage of sales offers as retailers lose their nerve and cut prices to stimulate demand.

So, if we are all to blame a little, why don’t we act courageously and instead of abandoning our manners when we feel under the strain of Christmas shopping, double our efforts to be polite?

It’s not the fault of the shop assistants that they’ve run out of what you want, so don’t harange them. It’s not their fault that credit card processing terminals are working slowly because 50 million other transactions are being processed at the same time. It’s not their fault that you have left your shopping until now instead of starting a month ago.

Why don’t we just enjoy Christmas shopping this year and be polite to people?

Being angry and rude takes a lot of your energy and won’t magic your presents into the shops, so it’s really rather a waste of your time and effort. It also makes everyone feel worse when the whole point of Christmas is to make people feel better.

So let’s all wish each other merry Christmas shopping and treat each other and shop assistants with the respect and courtesy we all deserve.

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