Desperate Shopping On Christmas Eve

Published 1:17 pm Thursday, December 31, 2015

I had one Christmas job — buy Elizabeth a present — and I had dangerously waited until Christmas Eve. She had done everything else — presents for the children, the grandchildren, the in-laws, the neighbors, the garbage men and the newspaper carrier. She had decorated the house, cooked and cleaned for the family dinners and wrapped the various presents in neat and colorful packages.

I had one job … and dithered about for weeks without a clue. I anticipated joining a horde of desperate husbands wandering about Hanes Mall late on Christmas Eve as the hours ticked down to closing time.

Some wives mercifully toss hints to their husbands about Christmas presents, but even then we often miss the leads. Some wives — realizing their husbands’ severe shopping handicaps — buy their own presents, wrap them, put on the bow and present grateful husbands with the bill.

I was on my own when I awoke on Christmas Eve.

Skipping breakfast, I dashed to Hanes Mall, parked on the front row and waited for Dillards to open at 8 a.m. I was the second shopper to scoot inside when the manager unlocked the doors.

Five extremely helpful clerks begged to help me. They knew I wasn’t there to shop. I was a buyer. They modeled for me, offered opinions and found the right sizes … as if I were a millionaire at Saks Fifth Avenue.

They cooed their approval for everything I bought.

“Ooh. She will LOVE this.”

I was done by 9 a.m. and had only Elizabeth’s big gift to buy — a selfie stick. I had seen them at Bixby General Store, but they were gone when I arrived. I snatched the last one at Dollar General.

For Christmas, Elizabeth also gave me … a selfie stick. Now we have a matching pair.

• • • • •

Forget the traditional “White Christmas” song, this was a Christmas for shorts and t-shirts. Some relatives came to our family gathering in Farmington dressed for a summer beach vacation. We had a tropical Christmas in North Carolina. Record-breaking temperatures rose to the low 70s for Santa’s arrival. It has been a thoroughly pleasant week except for recurring rain showers. Mild winds from the south have brought lots of moisture.

Chickweed is sprouting on my lawn as if it were April. I’m expecting tulips to break through if the cold weather doesn’t return soon.

Confused flying critters flitted about. We stopped by the creek, rolled down the windows and listened to the frogs croaking by the stream on Christmas Day.

It was a pleasant Christmas.

• • • • •

What a difference a week can make. Last week I found myself trapped in Clemmons after dark — unable to fight my way out on U.S. 158 because of the Festival of Lights traffic. I wheeled around to escape on Lewisville-Clemmons Road and found that traffic even worse.

Some drivers were remarkably reckless.

This Monday there were only a few cars waiting at Tanglewood Park to see the lights. Traffic was a breeze.

• • • • •

My favorite Christmas present has been “High Noon” courtesy of the grandsons. I’ve watched the 1952 Western four times already with only one criticism: How could aging star Gary Cooper find himself married to the beautiful and very young Grace Kelly … even in the movies?

— Dwight Sparks