Christmas Shopping Is NOT For The Faint Of Heart (or people who don’t parallel park very well.)

Yeah, I kinda suck at parallel parking.

I used to be GREAT at it back when I was driving the girls to elementary school every morning and had to park and walk them in. It was a daily occurrence then, but now? I avoid it like the plague. However, some of my Christmas shopping lately has included the stores in the quaint little downtown square of Franklin, TN and in that neck of the woods you don’t have any choice but to try to wedge your car in between two other ones with little or no room for error. If Madi is sitting next to me in the front seat I do much better because she coaches me– actually, it’s not so much ‘coaching,’ it’s more like repeating in a bored voice (and with a barely perceptible eye roll) a line from the driver’s ed manual that is particularly fitting: “Begin by pulling up parallel with the car in front of the parking space.” Somehow I manage to forget that pertinent piece of information every time until she says it, and if I am alone in the car I have this momentary panic attack (much like Prissy in ‘Gone With The Wind’) until I remember– and it still usually takes me a couple of runs at it.

I actually ventured out to do most of my shopping last Saturday night, which is in itself, by definition INSANE. Seriously, the weekend before Christmas? Apparently everybody who had a heartbeat and could fog a mirror was out there shopping. I was not stupid enough to attempt to storm the malls around here, but I did run over to Murfreesboro hoping a smaller town might have less shoppers per square mile. Not altogether a sound plan, but I decided to go all Zen and self-helpy on my own self and try to just chillax and enjoy the experience without stressing out.

That was a wise decision on my part, because frankly there were a whole lot of folks out there running around like crazed weasels teetering on the brink of having a DefCon 11 Level Meltdown over things like parking spaces and people in front of them in line not moving fast enough. It was a teensy bit tense at times, but if you know me at all you know that I’m a firm believer in when the going gets tough, the tough get sarcastic, so I was able to amuse myself to no end by mentally framing all kinds of really smart-ass witty retorts to some of the decidedly UN-amused people around me. I say ‘mentally framing’ because I am not an idiot– some of those shoppers looked fully capable of shanking me right in the middle of T.J. Maxx– but trust me, there was some comic gold happening up there in my head. Sometimes I just crack me up, I swear.

At any rate, I think I am just about through with my shopping, with the exception of a few straggling gifts I may delegate to the girls. Charlotte knocked out most of her shopping yesterday on our way home from church, and Madi Rose proudly informed me that she has completely finished hers and that I made out very well– of course, she does 90% of her shopping at Goodwill these days (which I wholeheartedly endorse), so if any of you ever see me wearing something that looks vaguely familiar to you, chances are you might have owned it at one time. FYI, the polite thing to do in that case would be to refrain from mentioning it, although it really wouldn’t matter, because A) I love a good bargain B) I have no shame and C) Madi Rose aka The Idealistic College Activist feels very strongly about recycling/saving the Earth/not wasting things/etc. Which suits me just fine. Frankly I’m rather proud of giving birth to the world’s cutest Hall Monitor.

Also yesterday I was able to bribe the girls into enduring a brief photo shoot, so I can give the grandparents some shots of them for Christmas. They hate this, by the way– apparently I can get rather bossy when I’m trying to get the perfect shot and they take exception to constructive criticism such as, “You kinda look like you’re about to get hit by an oncoming vehicle” or “That smile makes you seem just a wee bit drunk.” At any rate I ended up with some really beautiful pictures, and I’ll show you an outtake (They hated this one, but I thought it was sweet):


So… how is your Christmas shopping going? Any gunplay involved?

12 Responses

  1. bettyrwoodward

    Lovely picture of the girls. Christmas shopping etc was finished a while back. No food to buy this year as we are going to Rachel’s for the whole of the holiday. This is the first time Stuart hasn’t taken a Christmas Day service in our own Church for 30 years!He was asked to do a 10 minute epilogue at Rachel’s church so doesn’t get away with it completely.
    Back to the shopping, Rachel did ask today if I would like to go the the Metro Centre (about the largest Mall in the UK) late next Friday evening as they were open until 10 p.m Of course I said yes. Should be really fun! Just the two of us will be great.
    Hope everything goes well tomorrow. We’ll be praying for you all.

  2. rachelbaker

    Yep, I am slightly insane but I think going shopping two days before Christmas sounds fun! I am pretty much done as regards to present shopping, so that if Christmas was tomorrow I’d get by. BUT Christmas isn’t tomorrow so there is always time for a couple of extra bits and pieces!

    As for all the food – we’re going to do that in about 20 minutes time. A friend is coming to babysit so we can blitz the supermarket while the kids are asleep and it (hopefully) isn’t too busy. It’ll be our first time ‘hosting’ Christmas so it should be fun and we’re bound to forget something essential. It really helps that I have a husband who is awesome at cooking roast dinners.

    As much as I’ve appreciated spending every Christmas for the last 33 years at Mum and Dads’ (and being at their church). We are very excited about having Christmas at our house and being with our Church family as well as the biological lot this year!

  3. Shella

    I finished Christmas shopping last week, and finished wrapping, bowing and tagging last Saturday morning. I was ready for Christmas a week earlier than usual! And that NEVER happens!

    And now, the rest of the story….

    Last night I realized that I had nothing in the house to eat. Not that I needed anything to eat, mind you, as I had eaten plenty during the day, but still. I thought about running to the store, but did not want to change out of my ratty clothes. And then I remembered – I bought my sister-in-law chocolates for Christmas! And though I am ashamed to admit this, I must confess that I eventually tore open the gift packaging and ate a couple (okay, many) candies. But after all that sugar, I really “needed” something more. And then I remembered – I bought a box of assorted nuts as a gift, too. I am very, very ashamed. But I tore open the gift packaging and ate a couple (okay, lots and lots of) nuts. Sigh!

    So now I have to go Christmas shopping again. I sure never expected that one of the crazy last-minute shoppers would be me!

  4. meb

    “…because frankly there were a whole lot of folks out there running around like crazed weasels teetering on the brink of having a DefCon 11 Level Meltdown over things like parking spaces and people in front of them in line not moving fast enough….” I actually snorted when I read this, because I think I’ve encountered some of those same people here in Seattle. :-)

    Most shopping is done and wrapped, only two presents left to buy, but since they are being given after Christmas it’s not a huge rush to go out and get them right now. There is one other present for a certain 11 year old, that if it comes in to the store before Christmas I will have to pick up, but for that I will have my husband drive me over, slow down while I leap from the car, dash in, pay and dash out again in the time it will take him to drive around the block. At least that’s how I see it going down, if that actually happens remains to be seen.

  5. MostlySunny

    I just sent everybody the best salted peanuts in the world from Virginia – Plantation Peanuts.

    I discovered these babies a few years ago when someone sent them to me. Now I just click and send. I especially send them to the siblings who say “Oh, please don’t get us anything.” Yeah, right. And then they RAVE about the peanuts and how they look forward to getting them every year.

    I’ve been running since Thanksgiving…and we threw in a wedding (son) on December 30th. Not much going on here!

  6. auburn60

    I am a confirmed, dyed-in-the-wool online shopper, so I rarely venture out with the thundering herd to roam aimlessly through malls and discount stores…HOWEVER…you happened to catch me just as I returned home from a trip to Hobby Lobby. Meredith and I decided we were going to ‘help’ Matthew finish out his gift to his girlfriend. “Meddling ” is what we were actually doing ’cause he had picked out several cute little gifts and put them in a glittery purple box and had it all ready to take to school tomorrow, but his 2 older sisters and interfering mother decided the whole thing needed tweaking, so unbeknownst to him…off we went. I foolishly thought maybe all the marathon shoppers would go home to eat dinner after 5:00 p.m. No such luck. Bumper to bumper traffic,fighting for parking,people standing three deep in the store aisles. Yeah.

    We got it in our heads that an ornament with girlfriends initial on it and a gift card would round out the present perfectly. Unfortunately,
    her name starts with a ‘K’ as does every other ‘Kelsey,Katie, Kenna, Kimberly,Kristin,etc.’ in
    the area…so no ‘K’s to be had. We wandered the whole store looking for inspiration. We ended up with a paperweight in the shape of a pink,glittery “K”. I guess it’s a paperweight. At this point I don’t even care. And a Starbuck’s gift card. And a pink and green plastic cup with a “K”. Which meant all this plus the previous purchases no longer fit in the cute purple,glittery gift box. AARGH! Maybe we’ll save some of this junk for her birthday…whenever that is. IF he’s even still dating her by then.

  7. LindaB

    You people crack me up! And Shella, your story made me LOL for real!

    Tori, I’m so glad you mentioned Madi’s Goodwill shopping—–I don’t feel so “cheap” now. Especially since I know now that I’m recycling and saving the planet. We’re big Goodwill and Salvation Army shoppers around here lately. The country’s biggest outlet mall is about five miles from our house and they have a new Goodwill “high end” shop called “My Fashion Secret”! A lot of their clothes still have the tags on them and there are a lot of designer names on them. Designer names I would NEVER splurge on for myself! But I’ll pay $2.50 for a designer blouse………and $1.25 if it’s the half off color of the day! I don’t have the nerve to do my Christmas shopping there yet. But the day may come….

    As for my Christmas shopping, I’ve been out there in the war zone since 10 a.m. this morning and just got home at 10:00 p.m.! And I’m wore plum out! My feet hurt. My back hurts. And my shoulder is killing me. And I’m not done yet. Next year, it’s gonna be gift cards for everyone! I’m too old for this! I did order some things online and that was cool! I ordered several T.D. Jakes DVD’s for my daughter, who is now his biggest fan! I ordered some wooden blocks that have magnets imbedded in them for my 3 year old grandson. They’re made by some “green” company in Hondurus that plants 100 trees for every one they cut down to manufacture these blocks. And the profits are used to feed the children of Hondurus. His mother will like that! And I can’t wait to play with the blocks! And we got him a train set. He was the most fun to buy for this year! Can’t wait to see him open his presents!

  8. rachelbaker

    Oh, and Parallel parking? I could do with a Madi coaching me! How can something that occasionally comes as second nature, often be a total confusing nightmare?

    And LindaB – I have a nearly 3 year old boy and I couldn’t agree more – they are the most fun to buy for … and so easy to please!

  9. Cynthia

    Oh Tori honey; are you saying “I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ babies!” excuse me, I mean parallel parking? I can see you being Butterfly McQueen; yes, that image has totally made my day.

  10. Gramma Jac

    Rachel, I have to tell you my PERFECT Gramma story. (I have my moments now and then!) My Grandsons were here in August (I’m in Wisconsin and they are sadly in California.) The youngest, who was 3 in October, LOVES garbage trucks–he calls them “trash trucks”. We were shopping in Minnesota and I drove 40 miles extra JUST to find the place where they’re manufactured. An entire lot of brand new “trash trucks” in different colors! WOW! We had such fun!

    My husband has discovered that Duplo blocks can be ordered on-line and sent directly to California. The first time he did this, he called our daughter to tell her what boxes to watch for. Then she called me and asked if she needed to send me money for food!!! :-) OK, so he went a little overboard!)

  11. rachelbaker

    Gramma Jac – great story! Little boys are so much fun (as are little girls in a different way)!

    Leaping back to the previous blog – last night I went to my first (and only) Christmas party of this year that wasn’t for the kids. My friend had a ‘puddings party’. We all had to take a dessert or drink and we therefore ate a lot! There were 18 of us I think (all women)and it was fun (and fattening). The guests included a Sudanese friend and a Russian friend, neither of whom knew what a ‘pudding party’ entailed. They were pleasantly surprised – the Russian thought she was coming to a traditional English gathering while we would all sit around and eat different types of rice pudding!

  12. Barbara M. Lloyd

    Oh my goodness, when it comes to Thrift Shops, Betty Morris was the Queen of the Parade. She bought all of her clothes…and hats…at those “trendy” shops and looked mar-vel-us…even going to a high-class wedding. Then she would take her grands to Saks and other fine shops in Washington, DC. However, she didn’t frequent just any ‘ole second-handstore, for while she went often to her Virginia vintage stores, she turned her nose up at what we had to offer in my part of South Carolina. Seems even thrift shops have class ratings. Who knew?

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