For most of my life I have been an advocate for shopping locally including Christmas shopping for my family, and the occasional shopping for other stuff where there was a need. Every December, Edith Principe stocked her store with several dresses that she knew would be the right size and style for my wife and all I had to do was pick the one I liked. Some of those dresses are likely still in her closet today. Since the rest of the family lived around me, it was pretty easy to know what they could wear or use for their birthdays and Christmas.

Then spouses joined the scene, followed by grandkids and, before long “greats,” too. For a while, it was still easy to shop. I could monitor the kids’ toys, and the toys for the big boys and girls as well. I turned to gift certificates at first and then to gift cards as the shopping world changed. Money was also the gift of choice since that worked for everybody but it took some of the pleasure out of giving. Now and then, I would find a special gift that could be found for everybody.

One year I bought everybody a flashlight that could be energized by shaking it; another year, sweatshirts with customized logos, according to personal interests, and for one year, small video picture frames accompanied by flash drives loaded with family pictures. In recent years, I discovered Omaha Steaks in a magazine ad and tried that for family gifts. That proved popular and I could place the order by phone and pay by credit card. Packages were delivered all across the country wherever families were living. That has worked well and I think everybody likes the blend of foods per package and the frozen meats are delivered successfully to my family’s doorsteps all across the United States.

Last fall, I had a special reason to purchase a DVD by Gloria Estefan as a gift for a friend. I went all around Brockway and DuBois checking stores where it might be found. Every clerk understood what I was looking for, but none had the disc in stock. I finally gave up on that search and came back home to turn on my computer and do my first search at Two days later, the DVD was delivered right to my house. That was a reluctant awakening for me, and the beginning of a new phase of life.

I still don’t favor the method but acknowledge the success that came with it. This year around Thanksgiving, there was a splurge of ads for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and other tricky names never heard of before. I bided my time until Monday and then went into action on the computer to satisfy my needs. I began with my 2018 Daily Guideposts devotional book. For many years, I have kept the current edition on the little stand beside my easy chair where I can read the day’s message while I sip my morning cup of coffee.

The annual list of contributors is pictured on the back cover and I begin by renewing friendship with each of them, reading over their autobiographical note inside, and proceeding to read day by day. On the very last day of each year, I drop the old book, with no markings inside, into the drop box at the public library so a new person can recycle it and enjoy the devotional notes by the day of the week, if not by the calendar dates. In a few days, my 2018 book was successfully delivered to my USPS mailbox.

Years ago, I had purchased Christmas cards that were carefully selected and unique to my choice directly from a mail-order company. I really liked those cards but I also watched the “Hallmark Hall of Fame” programs on TV and felt guilty. So, I began to shop locally for Hallmark cards. This year I decided to go back to my original source and searched online for a “boxed card Christmas card supplier.” I relocated Miles Kimball and found the company still in business. I carefully selected a card design that fit my fancy and provided name and return address information. A week or so later, perfectly done cards were successfully delivered to my door.

As those apparent successes were verified by email, I got bolder and searched deeper with blue jeans next in my sights. When I was growing up, I wore dark blue overalls (without bibs) like most of my male classmates – not Levi’s like the guys from football and basketball or about to go off to war – but like a “farmer.” Sometime as I grew up, I transferred my attention to dress pants, but reverted back to jeans for casual wear and work around the farm. I always wore “Light Blue Basic Additions” and shopped for a new pair every fall at Kmart in DuBois.

Recently the Kmart doors were closed and the final stock went on sale, but no pair of jeans in my size. So, I went online, found what I wanted and placed the order with Kmart/Sears. A few days later, the package arrived as predicted and I was so happy and the attached sales order perfectly matched just what I wanted. I opened the box and pulled out a pair of jeans, dark blue in color. I considered going back to my days of youth although I knew I wouldn’t be happy. I took them all the way out to try them on and discovered they were not even the right size. I would have to roll up the bottoms like farm boys used to do and then collect hay seeds in the cuff, or wear them up to my arm pits like some sort of clown.

After leafing through all the paperwork, I finally found a phone number where I could talk with a live person. The very pleasant lady on the phone studied her side of the order and, without hesitation, promised to credit my credit card account for the wrong order, and then proceeded to write up a new order with all the right information. Now I am waiting for the arrival of another delivery. She suggested that I could just gift somebody else with the dark blue jeans, so I will be looking for a person with the right dimensions who might benefit from my miss-sized ones. The jury is still out on the success of this cyber-order.

For the past 20 years or so, I have kept a calendar of personal appointments in a little, black book labeled “At-A-Glance,” which features each month’s calendar on a set of facing pages, a section for addresses and phone numbers, and several pages of key information that I really didn’t need. The order was placed online and a few days later, that little package arrived in my mailbox. With anticipation, I looked at the little, black book, which immediately looked different.

Some of the features looked usable but the monthly calendar had Saturday/Sunday sharing the last space on the right-hand side. I’ve seen those before and I really disliked that way of listing appointments. I found their phone number and talked with another lady, almost as nice as the previous one. This one said that my “At-A-Glance” has been discontinued.

Of all things! I’ve gone back to my old ways again and have begun to search in local stores, but I’m not sure what I will end with this year.

My Internet score shows 3 out of 5 successes and 2 out of 5 failures. In my math days of high school, that would earn a grade of 60 percent and would be written in bright, red numbers. Maybe I’ll try again in the future and raise the grade – or not!

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