Christmas Shopping for a Girl With a Defective Shopping Gene

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I inherited my dad’s shopping gene or lack thereof.  His idea of shopping is to walk into a store, make a b-line to what he needs, pick it up, walk to the cashier, pay for it, and leave.  If he’s in a lingering mood then he walks the perimeter of the store and then leaves. Well, my process of shopping is very similar, but because I do carry  XX Chromosomes it means my shopping prowess is a bit more sophisticated, but not by much.

For the last two years it seems that I am narrowed down to one day between Thanksgiving and Christmas in which to do my shopping.  It seems that every weekend between those two holidays is packed with travel, parties, company or something.  Shopping after work is out of the question, because I’m usually exhausted and not in the mood to shop, and my shopping moods are very few and far between.  Another side effect of turning forty is that I’m becoming a homebody.  My husband has had this side effect too.

Today was “the day”, and I can’t say I looked forward to it.

First of all, I hate crowds, and according to my mother I have hated them since I was a baby.  She could hardly take me to church because I would scream my head off if she took me into the church service.

Secondly, I am a Southern girl with a family full of Southern men, and because I live in Charlotte near a Bass Pro Shop and the rest of the family doesn’t it means a non-negotiable trip to Concord Mills or as I call it Sensory Overload Mall.  I would avoid this place like the plague if I wasn’t the designated Bass Pro Shop Christmas pack mule in the family.  Oh, to be needed by others simply because you’re near good shopping…it’s enough to give one the warm fuzzies.  Sigh..

Okay, at least I’m needed.

You might think I’m over-reacting, but let me paint a picture for you.  Concord Mills is the TOP TOURIST ATTRACTION IN NORTH CAROLINA! You’d think places like Grandfather Mountain, Biltmore House, or the Outer Banks would be the first, but according to the numbers Concord Mills attracts nearly 15 million visitors a year.  I believe it, and I think half of them come between Thanksgiving and New Year!

A near-agoraphobic person’s idea of hell.

So, I’m up at the crack of eight (that’s a sacrifice for me on a Saturday) so I can get there by the time the shopping behemoth opens at 10:00.  I tell ya, I was armed with a list and a battle strategy that would make General Patton proud.   I knew exactly where I was going and what I was going to buy.

Another reason this mall is so darn irritating to me is the folks to who designed this mall knew how to imprison you into forced consumerism, because it’s not your typical mall with several wings.  This darn thing is an oval with stores on each side.  The only pass through is the food court halfway around the perimeter, but calling the food court a pass through is a joke on a Saturday during Christmas shopping season.   You’d need riot police in riot gear in front of you to clear the way.  So, you just have to make the circle, and unless you want to rent a shopping basket for $5.00 you have to lug all your packages with you.  Now, you could backtrack around the circle to where you entered each time you got loaded down, but it really doesn’t do any good, because you end up walking more.  It’s almost like the old Eagles song Hotel California..“you can check out anytime you like but you can never leave.”

The only thing that makes this shopping trip bearable for me is a stop at Auntie Anne’s Pretzels.  Oh, you can keep your Cinnabon.  Auntie Anne’s Almond Pretzel with caramel dip is something straight from Heaven as far as I’m concerned and not near as fattening.  It gives me just enough delight and energy  so I can survive the trip around the other side of the oval.

So, two and half hours later my back and arms are hurting and my nerves are frayed because by now it’s WALL TO WALL PEOPLE, but I’m mostly done with this year’s Christmas shopping.  It’s  not that big of a feat I know, because I don’t have kids to shop for, but it’s a big accomplishment for me.  I did make a couple of other stops at a few other stores, but I think doing all of my Christmas shopping in a little under four hours is an achievement that would make my daddy proud.  Now, I can really enjoy Christmas!

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