some thoughts on the christmas spirit

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I've been an active etsy seller since May 2009, so this is my 4th holiday season on etsy. And it might be my last. I'm still going to sell on etsy, but I think next year I might close my shop on Black Friday and re-open on January 1st. Let me explain why.

My family is pretty gung-ho about Christmas. We put the tree up super early (usually after Halloween) and start playing our seasonal albums even earlier. My mom bakes dozens and dozens of cookies, and in December we watch countless classic movies about goodwill towards men, and everything else that goes with the fabled Christmas spirit. But here's the thing -- after 4 years of etsy Christmases I'm starting to feel like that spirit just doesn't exist in the world. I'm starting to feel a lot colder about my fellow man, and I'm losing my faith that most people are nice and kind and good.

Here's something to remember if you're a buyer on etsy (or ebay, for that matter, where my dad is a top seller and is having similar feelings of disillusionment) You are dealing with a human being. Usually just one single human being on the other side of the computer. Not a big huge company or a customer service representative -- just one person who's handling the emails, the shipping, the production, everything. At this time of year they're probably having a harder time handling it unless they're lucky to have enough money to hire seasonal help or friends with enough time to lend a hand. They're probably feeling a little stressed out right now. So now, more than any other time of the year, would be a good time to be polite.

If you need an order rushed for Christmas, how about "If possible, could you please rush this? Thanks so much!" Instead of "Need for Christmas! Rush my order!" I'd like to feel like one of Santa's elves, not a member of a crafting chain gang. But that's really just a small pet peeve to me. What REALLY bothers me is how impatient, demanding and rude people are when they're following up about the status of their shipment. Quite frankly the vast majority of customers are patient and polite -- out of the 700+ orders I've received in the last month, only a handful were rude, but they were enough to make me want to chuck it all next year.

First of all, I find it absurd that so many people are "concerned this isn't going to make it for Christmas" when it hasn't arrived by December 12th. Did somebody move Christmas and not tell me? Last I heard it was the 25th, and as of today there are still seven whole days when the mail is being delivered. This morning somebody opened a dispute against me on etsy (sidenote: the fact that etsy has made it easier to open disputes without contacting the seller first really gets my goat) because their order hasn't arrived yet and now they don't think it will make it for Christmas. The tracking shows that it will be out for delivery tomorrow. I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that's over a week before Christmas.

What upsets me more than my frustration over how early people seem to be getting frantic over delivery dates is how cruel they are to me. FYI -- I'm a human being. This is Christmas for me, too, you know.. or at least it used to be. If USPS is taking five days to deliver a first class package, that's not actually my fault, but you'd never know it by the way some people treat me. It's a fact that USPS can take a little longer during the holiday rush because of the sheer volume of mail they're dealing with, and this year in particular because they've cut back so much. Lucky for them, though, any complaints about slow, lost or missing packages are directed at people like me, not them.

I've been feeling this way for a while now, but it sort of reached a crest this weekend. After hearing about the terrible events in Connecticut, I personally feel a lot less upset about trivial things. If you have your family and your health right now, you should be so incredibly thankful. To me Christmas is always more about being with the people you love than gifts, but this year even more so. The fact that anyone right now could be consumed with outrage over something so inconsequential as a gift that hasn't arrived before December 15th, that just breaks my heart. Be happy that you still have the person for whom the gift was intended.

And here's a thought: if your present doesn't arrive before Christmas, if the worst possible scenario happens and you are *gasp* sans-present come Christmas morning, make a little card that says "Christmas isn't over yet! There's still one more present, but it won't be under the tree for a few more days!" or something like that. So what if you have to give a present a few days after Christmas? As we know all too well right now, it could be much worse.

I know this is a really strange thing for me to be posting here -- and generally these sort of thoughts are reserved for my family and very close friends -- but I felt like it needed to be said. If just one person reads this and it makes them think twice before sending off an irate message to another etsy seller, it's worth it.