Family Ties

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 2, 2000

Mary Ann Fitzmorris / L’Observateur / December 2, 2000

My supply of dishwasher detergent ran out on Thanksgiving evening, and half the dirty dishes from a party for thirty sat overnight on the counter. I refuse to patronize any establishment which would make their employees work on such a holiday, so I waited until 7 a.m. to dash off to Wal-Mart.The crack of dawn is the only time I would think of going to Wal-Mart. At midday there are more people in that store than inhabitants of most small towns in America! I was shocked to find all those people there today. What were they doing there, the day after Thanksgiving, at seven in the morning? Weren’t they supposed to be tripping over each other at the mall? Don’t they watch the news? Inside the store, there was frenetic activity. Lines stretched through the aisles. I was concerned that I, holding my lone item of dishwasher detergent, would be sandwiched between carts of bicycles and microwaves like it is at Sam’s, while rotting plates at home would make the kitchen smell like my car. It was a relief to learn that the lines around the store were specifically for Christmas, all heading to one overwhelmed register.

On the way out I passed a woman enshrouded in shopping baskets full of toys. On the top of one pile were three scooters. These drew my attention away from the Rosie O’Donnell gay lover story on the cover of the National Enquirer. Scooters! That’s the hot ticket for this season! I looked at the scooters, I looked at the lines, I thought of my dishes; I left.

There is no way I could have purchased a Christmas item this early anyway.

I belong to the Last Minute Shoppers Club, as glamorized in the film Jingle All The Way.

While I was marveling at this experience to one of my shopping-savvy friends, she interrupted, “Don’t you know anything? The day after Thanksgiving is the busiest shopping day of the year!” Ignorantly, I queried, “At Wal-Mart? I thought every day there was the busiest shopping day of the year.” “No, No,” she corrected me, oozing exasperation, “Those lines are for the lay-away for Christmas.””Wow!” was all I could manage to acknowledge such enlightenment. Next year I’ll have to remember that. My shopping savvy friend had more wisdom to impart. “You really ought to be shopping online anyway. No lines there. That’s what I’m doing right now. My scooter was delivered weeks ago. I’m nearly finished all my shopping. . .for Christmas, that is.”Maybe they could do a sequel to Jingle All The Way, where the last minute shopper tries to buy everything online. It couldn’t possibly be any less exciting than some of the reality based TV hits of last year.

Perhaps the reason I can shop so late and still get what I need, in the traditional way, is that I’m never going for the hot thing. This year, searching for the scooter, will be the first time I’ll compete with others for the season’s highly desired item.

Fortunately, they seem to be everywhere. But I have learned that a scooter isn’t just a scooter. The prized scooter is the Razor, I’m told, and that’s exactly the kind we’ll get. It’s just so much cheaper in the long run to get the real deal. You can save on the psychiatrist bills later.Every Christmas I’m convinced of this as I hear my husband’s sad tales of having gotten the dime store version of everything he really wanted. Poor thing, it’s still happening to him. He’s getting the dime store version of therapy. The couch he lies on when he whines is our own. And the counsellor is unsympathetic.

No, in order to protect the future spouses of our children, we are compelled to present those name brands under the tree; it’s the American way.

My shopping savvy friend reeled off all the places where the Razor scooter is available, and when she mentioned a sale that ran somewhere last week for twenty dollars off, I decided to wait for another one.

I’m gambling, but if I have no scooter the day before Christmas, I’ll be out again at seven the day after next Thanksgiving, and it won’t be for detergent.

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