Joco Opinion

How holiday shopping for myself led me to so many questions – and a pink beret

See how cute these fedoras are at Town Center Anthropologie in Leawood? It inspired Sherry Kuehl to give the hat a try and it ... wasn’t her.
See how cute these fedoras are at Town Center Anthropologie in Leawood? It inspired Sherry Kuehl to give the hat a try and it ... wasn’t her. Sherry Kuehl

I enjoy holiday shopping but my family has ruined it for me. Now, I get lists where all I have do is point and click to their online shopping bag. Efficient? Yes. Fun? No.

This means the only real Christmas retail therapy I do is for myself because, yes, I buy my own presents.

A few things puzzle me about shopping in December, though, and one of them is the music being played in stores. Props to Bath and Body Works for its traditional approach to holiday tunes. Burl Ives gentle crooning “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” is something to be treasured and lulled me into buying yet another Fresh Balsam holiday candle. And when Johnny Mathis started singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” I felt duty-bound to double up on my Peppermint Twist bath gel purchase.

Sadly, the music segued to caterwauling at the next store. What’s up with current singers butchering a classic? Whoever thought that “Jingle Bells” required vocal gymnastics? I’m tone deaf, but even I don’t think that “dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh” requires an operatic take.

Another thing that confuses me are coupon conundrums.

Pretty much, retail speaking, no matter what store you go into everything is marked down by at least 30 percent. You also then have your digital coupons and loyalty savings. The problem is that the math required to use your coupons is ACT-worthy and presents a mathematical brain teaser.

Can you combine the current discount with your coupon and loyalty card? If the answer is no, you then have to try to figure out what will be cheaper — just taking the discounted price or going the coupon route combined with the loyalty reduction? And then what if you return the purchase? Will you get your loyalty bucks back?

The people who say you never use math once you graduate are fools. I use math every time I shop. I can add up what’s in my Target cart and I’m usually not off by more than 50 cents. It still amazes my kids. My son once asked me how can I do that but not know basic algebra. I told him my skill set was “everyday math.”

Holiday shopping also woos me into making dumb decisions. As in I recently bought a hat. Not a hat to wear when I walk my dogs, but a fashion statement hat. A beret to be exact.

J. Crew had all these cute berets laid out on a counter and the fact that they looked like giant macaroons might have influenced my decision to buy one (I was hungry.) As soon as I wore my beret in public, I felt very self-conscious — as in the people-might-be-feeling-sorry-for-me kind of self-conscious.

I just don’t have the face or the head for a beret. But then, not two days, later I was seduced by a fedora at Anthropolgie. It didn’t help that some very lovely young ladies were in the store wearing fedoras. I decided to give it try and let’s just say it wasn’t (ahem) for me.

I was bummed. I want to be the kind of woman who can pull off a hat. But then I started thinking positively about my beret.

I was going to wear it only when I go out with my daughter because she’ll be mortified to see me styling a huge hot pink wool macaroon perched on my head at a jaunty angle. How can I pass up that kind of opportunity?

Reach Sherry Kuehl at, on Facebook at Snarky in the Suburbs, on Twitter at @snarkynsuburbs and