Saturday, November 24, 2012

Christmas shopping now and then

I did the unthinkable yesterday.

For the first time in my life, I went shopping on Black Friday.

Frankly, it has never been an option. I’ve always worked on the day after Thanksgiving, but I never thought I was missing anything – getting up at the crack of dawn, waiting in the dark in sub-freezing temperatures, shopping in standing-room-only stores and inching forward for hours in long checkout lines.

But this year was different. I was on vacation.

Scanning the newspaper flyers, I noticed that none of the early-bird specials were on my Christmas list this year. So I arrived at the Silver City Galleria in Taunton, Mass., at a respectable 7 a.m.

Driving into the mall lot, I pulled into a parking space right in front of the door of Dick’s Sporting Goods. I walked to the Food Court, where I had arranged to meet my daughter and son’s girlfriend.

I sat in one of the plastic chairs near Dunkin’ Donuts, and then the most amazing thing happened. I watched the happy faces of the shoppers pass by. I marveled at the sparkling lights and decorations that lit up the space between floors in the center of the mall. I listened to Christmas carols.

And I was a child again …

Holding my mother’s hand, I walk into McWhirr’s in Downtown Fall River, and I know just where all the toys are. My mother waits patiently while I search for the perfect doll before sitting on Santa’s lap. We eat at the lunch counter, my favorite tuna roll and coffee "cab". From furniture to stationery, McWhirr’s has it all; and the kind elevator operators take us up and down until we’ve covered every inch of the five floors. The place is magical with mysterious cylinders that vanish into tubes, carrying money to some unknown place and miraculously returning with the correct change. By the end of the day, I am so tired but happy. We leave with as many bags as we can carry …

Back in the present, I spot my shopping buddies; and I order a tea and donut. Sitting near the twinkling Christmas tree in the Food Court, we take out our lists.

Slowly working our way through two levels from Sears to Macy’s, we wait in short lines, hand over coupons and swipe cards. We catch our breath at Bertucci’s, where we stop for salad and pizza.
My accomplices, who started at dawn, have to leave; but I take my time. I smile as I watch Santa listening to children’s wishes.
At 4 p.m. I walk outside into the waning sunshine. Tired but happy, I leave with as many bags as my trunk can carry.

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