As most university students could probably tell you, there is little time for shopping during the three-month period of classes, homework, and busy-ness that is the standard college semester.
When final exams have come and gone and students return home for holiday breaks, we're all in need of a little retail therapy.
Sure, we probably pick up groceries once every week or two, and walking the aisles of the local grocery store, choosing the best apples and picking between flavors of hummus, can be a relaxing break from schoolwork. But we rarely have time to shop for much more than the essentials during our action-packed college semesters.
Now that we're home with plenty of free time at our disposal, many of us will spend it shopping for gifts for ourselves, as well as countless friends and family members. And naturally, being at home during the holidays, a significant percentage of these trips may happen in the company of our parents.
Parents of college students are some of the most patient, loving, and generous people on the planet. They constantly put up with so much from us, their beloved, almost-grown-up children, who are trying to navigate our new-found independence while still feeling part of our families.
Shopping with parents during the holidays can be a great way to spend some time with them, catch up after a long semester, and just enjoy their company. But on the other hand, it can also be a bit stressful.
Shopping, especially during the rush that happens before every major holiday, really seems to exemplify all of the disagreements that we have with our parents on a regular basis. Sometimes we can't agree on what stores to go to or which ones to avoid.
Even when you want to go to the same places, you struggle to decide where to go first. Maybe your father walks right past the clothing section and gets impatient with you for trying on fifty pairs of jeans, not realizing you've been alternating between two pairs all semester because you haven't had a chance to shop for more.
Or on the flip-side, maybe your foot starts tapping while your mother decides between shades of lipstick since you had an 8 AM class this semester and haven't worried about makeup in months. You wonder why your parents are willing to spend so much on certain products, and they worry that you're wasting what little you made at your summer job on things they don't think you need.
If you're picking out gifts for family that you haven't seen in a while since you've been at school, it seems that they reject every suggestion you offer because "Grandma already has enough lotion" or "your cousin doesn't like trains anymore." Seriously, can we ever be right?
But, as frustrated as you might be at your mom for taking forever or at your dad for second-guessing all of your choices for Christmas gifts, try to remember that you won't always have the opportunity to spend this much time with the folks.
As hard as it might be to imagine now, you could end up moving away for your career, or working right up until the holiday, so there may come a day when all of your shopping happens solo or with friends. Shopping with the parents isn't just about finding the best deals and checking items off of your own to-do list; it's also about spending time with people who have had a huge role in your life, love you, and want you to succeed and be happy.
Next time you hit the stores with your folks, be patient with each other, and enjoy every busy, boring, quirky moment that you have with them. And if they offer to pay, just consider that an added bonus.