“What the…” I drove through aisle after aisle in a parking lot where I ordinarily get a rock-star spot super close to the doors.
But not that day. As I carefully maneuvered my mini-van between a Prius and a — let’s go with vintage to be polite — a vintage Buick I mumbled to no one, “Damn holiday.”
Ordinarily I don’t mind shopping, and more, I like Christmas. Not Watch “Elf” in July or get a manger-scene tattoo like, but I firmly believe that annual celebrations and family traditions are important, not only for kids, but for adults, too.
And I do love me some eggnog.
Never miss a local story.
But I didn’t need eggnog that day. I didn’t need Christmas gifts or wrapping paper or even lights for the tree.
I needed toilet paper.
Toilet paper, some cleaning products, cereal and a few canned goods. At another store, I needed hamburger, chicken, fresh vegetables, bread and had planned on sneaking a little fancy cheese into my shopping cart since I had a 5 percent off coupon.
Bottom line: I wasn’t shopping for any holiday anything; I was just on my weekly grocery trip.
It seems that even before Thanksgiving, the masses flock to the stores. I’m all for growing and contributing to the economy, but I’m also selfish.
Because I have a flexible, home-based schedule, I think that shopping mid-week, mid-day is a job perk. I also firmly believe that it’s thoughtful of me to do so because I make one less evening or weekend shopper vying for check-out line space. But basically, I like the lack of people when I go. I like my open-spaced routine and that I don’t have to do the cha-cha with other shoppers as I whip through the store and whittle down my list.
Then we hit the days around Thanksgiving and my perfectly practiced outings become chaotic.
If you just muttered to no one, “First world problem, Lady,” I totally agree. And on the list of things that annoy me this is far, far down. But, if I’m being honest, it’s on the list.
As I grabbed a cart from farther back in the stack than usual, I wondered as I do at this point every year: “Where did all these people come from?”
In addition to being selfish, I’m also nosy. I look in people’s shopping carts and try to imagine who they are based on the contents. That day I also looked to try and figure out why all these people were in my (selfish) way.
Here’s my guess: Without talking to a soul, I “met” several grandmothers who love to dress their grandkids in matching outfits. I saw a couple of uncles who selected the noisiest toys with the most pieces because sibling button-pushing never stops. I saw a guy who had at least 100 cans of cat food and one Lean Cuisine.
But mostly, I saw a lot of people like me.
(Except for the cat food guy. He was peculiar.)
By the time I got through both stores, my attitude had changed. This upcoming holiday season isn’t just about gifts and big meals; it’s not about crowds or the GNP. It’s about traditions and love.
And my first annual tradition? It’s the one where my heart softens, my focus changes and I realize I’m not the center of the holiday universe. I’m part of a wonderful, annual celebration of love.