Tag Archives: Shopping

Christmas Aliens among Us

Beware! Christmas aliens lurk in malls, mega-stores and parking lots.

Unlike gargantuan monsters on big and small screens who spit purple slime, these unearthly creatures can enter a Walmart without so much as a raised eyebrow.

Like the rest of the local gift-seeking population, they are tall, short, and various shapes, colors and sizes. They may wear jeans and hoodies or polyester pantsuits with Christmas teddy bears pinned to lapels.

Their appearance does not betray their presence. Instead, be on the lookout for suspicious shopping behaviors.

These extraterrestrials don’t aim laser cannons at shopping districts or vaporize Santa and his elves at tree lightings. Still, they could destroy holiday traditions cherished by our culture for decades.

Outside Stores

  • Christmas aliens are betrayed by their driving behavior. They stop at stoplights. Yes, really. Some even halt at stop signs. A few actually allow drivers trapped in wrong lanes to go first.
  • Their parking lot behavior reveals even more sinister intentions. Instead of charging across the lot in a diagonal path, they drive in designated lanes.
  • Despite plentiful targets at crosswalks, they do not accelerate. What kind of Christmas spirit is that?
  • Some aliens skip convenient parking spaces, keeping them available for the elderly and expectant mothers.
  • Having corralled not one, but two truant shopping carts, they may even look The Salvation Army bell ringer in the eye as they enter.

What would happen if the entire population exhibited similar dangerous behavior?

Inside Stores

  • They break the First Commandment of Christmas Shopping: Instead of inflicting shopping trips on spouses and children as a punishment, they try to make them fun.
  • They also refrain from mugging store clerks when a size large or Baby Know-It-All can’t be found.
  • They retrieve items from top shelves for the vertically challenged.
  • They sing along with background Christmas Muzak. On key.
  • They procure private places for cell phone discussions about purchasing the jingle-bell boxer shorts.
  • They may even toss used paper towels into the restroom trash can instead of onto the floor.
  • At checkout, they say please and thank you. And find they purchased more for others than themselves.

All these are strong indications that aliens have mounted a major assault on Christmas shopping traditions we hold so dear.

Worse yet, they enact these with a smile.

A smile?

Everyone knows Christmas shopping and giving have nothing to do with smiling. After all, we are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. God knows, He never smiled while lying in the manger. When He healed a dying little girl. Or, watched a lame grandpa dance without his crutch.

Right?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you encountered a Christmas alien lately?

Grandmas Shop the Sales

For years, my friend Dana and I have met every shopping challenge known to womankind. Blessed with two daughters apiece, we survived the daunting task of finding clothes for bloomers, early and late. Dana and I practiced motherly glares and “Because I said so!” drills for prom season. When the girls all married, we scoured stores for mother-of-the-bride dresses that wouldn’t age us on contact or ready us to dance on the reception tables. Together we played, grayed and prayed through decades of shopping.

Little did we know our retail history would prepare us for the ultimate shopping experience: buying for grandchildren. Serious business, right? We prepare for action by regularly polishing our credit cards.

We go in Dana’s car because she has fewer accidents. Also, her car features dual heating controls so we don’t hot flash each other to death.

First things first: Grandmas, in their feeble state, need energy to stimulate the economy. At the restaurant, our waitress brings extra rolls, dripping with butter, along with hypocritical salads.

At the mall, we try to take interest in clothing purported to fit us. But what grandma wants to face her body in fitting-room triplicate?

Much more fun to buy clothes for grandchildren. Like well-trained hounds, Dana and I follow the sales scent to 80-percent-off signs. We scout baby departments, hungry for the softness of little sleepers and onesies.

We’re such a seasoned team that we don’t need phones. If we chase our prey into separate departments, we rendezvous for critiques and/or celebrations at exactly the right moment. Like Vikings, Dana and I methodically plunder each store until salespeople tremble. The whole retail world is at our mercy until—

Until we encounter racks of lacy velvet dresses at 80-percent off.

Our daughters prefer practical clothes for their children.

Don’t they understand grandmothers do not live by denim alone? We want pictures of little princesses clad in scratchy Cinderella gowns. We want grandsons to wear ties they will soak in ketchup. We covet fairy-tale photos we can show off to friends, relatives and strangers at convenience stores.

But our children frown. Sigh.

To console ourselves, Dana and I make a beeline to the cookie store. After several rounds of favorites, plus diet Pepsi, we agree we are blessed, Cinderella or no Cinderella.

We drag our bags outside. After sociable trips through the parking lot, greeting others who cannot find their cars, we remember we entered through Appliances, not Intimates. Dana hits her remote again. Her car grumbles when we load it till it barely clears the ground.

Grandma sales mission accomplished.

For now.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Can you recall a favorite shopping trip?

Thanksgiving at Christmas

Yes, Thanksgiving has passed. Though the holiday virus has infected my mental workings, I’m not out of touch with reality yet. After all, it’s only December 1.

It’s not?

No wonder my gas company turned off the heat. …

Back to the original subject. Every year we celebrate Christmas at Thanksgiving. At Halloween, even. Yet, doesn’t Thanksgiving at Christmas make more sense than Black Friday? Let’s start a new trend! I’ll go first:

  • I appreciate energetic individuals who decorate their homes with flair during Advent. Their stunning light displays delight my grandchildren without this all-thumbs grandma hammering a single thumb.
  • Blessed are the procrastinators who, like me, have not removed pumpkins from their porches. The same people leave their Christmas lights up until July. You have no idea how you spread good cheer to me and others who will show up two months late for our own funerals.
  • I’m also thankful for online Christmas shopping, as my grinchy feet have nixed walking marathons in malls and stores. What a boon for me and for others with cranky, uncooperative body parts; cranky, uncooperative children; or cranky, uncooperative spouses.
  • Yet, I am thankful that my feet, in their more magnanimous moods, have allowed some shopping trips. Miss the opportunity to sing along with background carols? Never! Miss people-watching at the most interesting time of the year? Perish the thought!
  • Nasty store clerks are legendary; yet yesterday, I encountered one who, amid coupon craziness, promised me the best deal possible — and delivered.
  • On the receiving end of gift-giving, I am thankful my husband has developed excellent judgment in selecting presents. The past few decades, I have received nothing like one of his early gifts: a dried-blowfish lamp brought back from Florida.
  • Nor have friends given me a Santa Yoda yard ornament or singing deer head. One friend, whose sister gave her a plunger-waving snowman that asks restroom guests what they’re doing, has never re-gifted me with him. For that I am deeply grateful.
  • Also for commercials on TV that do not revolve around spending buckets of money for Christmas. Both of them.
  • Finally, for my car clock that ignores the time change. While an initial glance at it strikes me with panic — “I’m an hour late!” — I savor the rush of relief when I realize I’m not.

Hubby threatens to change the clock. Sure, it gives a false sense of security. But it allows me to chill.

After all, it’s only December 2.

It’s not?

Oh, well. There’s still plenty of time to celebrate Thanksgiving this December.

With every “Merry Christmas!” I’ll remember and thank the One whose birthday it is.

 

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How do you celebrate Thanksgiving at Christmas?   

 

 

 

Fall In!

I exert considerable energy to avoid store lines at Christmas, purchasing gifts while Rudolph is still reddening his nose on the beach.

Then, in December, I stumble through Walmart’s doors at 10:30 p.m. to escape lines. I won’t recall how I got there or that I parked my car at Lowe’s. But I’ll have plenty of time to search for it.

Many Americans, like me, despise standing in line — strange, as we spend our lives queuing up. During preschool years, we line up to bawl on Santa Claus’s lap. As elementary children, we form lines to go outside and inside. We broaden our horizons as adults, waiting in wedding reception and funeral home lines, queues at hotel desks and ballparks.

Even at church, we fear the potluck will run out of KFC before we reach the front. And will the sins of those at the head of confession lines rank higher than ours?

At best, we grit and bear it. At worst, we yak on phones.

Interestingly, people who declare there is no right or wrong morph into Moses when someone crosses a certain line: Thou Shalt Not Cut In. Businessmen, Harley riders and little old ladies all want to stone the criminal with Old Testament zeal.

Yet neither God nor OSHA has specified that we stand in lines. Why do this? Especially since we should be first. Always.

Part of the answer lies in our culture. Americans stand in line for the same reason we drive on the right, not the left; eat Kellogg’s Raisin Bran®, not blood pudding, for breakfast; and wear clothing in public — most of the time. It’s what we do.

But I like to think there are better reasons.

Bottom line, standing in line means we put others first.

Years ago, my husband and I entered a McDonald’s in Madrid, Spain. No lines formed at counters. Instead, customers rammed each other like football linemen. Hubby and I waited in vain for game’s end. Eventually, our hungry stomachs won. Readying elbows, we dove into the pack.

If only my elementary principal, Mrs. Talley, had arrived to tame us. If the ghost of my childhood Sunday school teacher, Mrs. Mamie Skeet — wearing her usual weird hat — had admonished us with Jesus’ Golden Rule, we might not have sold slivers of our souls for Big Macs.

Now I appreciate more than ever you who keep your elbows to yourself and wait patiently in line. And this December, if we allow others to go first, we will light up Christmas lines like the natal Star.

Mrs. Talley and Mrs. Skeet would be proud of us.

Jesus, too.

 

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What will you do while waiting in line this Christmas?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Singing in the Stores

O my God, when I used to sing “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” along with Walmart’s Muzac, my kids plotted to change their identities. Now, without their civilizing influence, I clear aisles. But, OMG, I can’t help singing. Christ is born!