The Shopping is Done, but the Presents are Gone

I swear to you: It’s only Dec. 3, and if I have one more thing
to do, my head will explode.
I swear to you: It’s only Dec. 3, and if I have one more thing to do, my head will explode.

The stress started before Thanksgiving when I went to wrap the gifts I had already purchased. And they were gone. All of them. Grandma’s presents. Mom and dad’s gifts. Stuff for my sisters, my nieces, my nephew and my sister-in-law. Even the toys I had purchased for Junior were missing. Nowhere to be found.

Oh, I looked. Trust me, I looked all over the house. I started with my closet. All I found was a pair of really cute suede boots I had purchased two years ago and hid in the back of the closet behind a moldy old suit Harry last wore to a pledge dance when we were in college.

I hid the boots so I could bring them out a month after their purchase and honestly tell Harry, “Oh, these old things? They’ve been in the closet forever.”

After I tried the boots on with various outfits and decided they just might still be in style, I went out to the garage and looked behind all the Halloween junk. Normally, I stuff a few gifts behind the scary masks and Styrofoam gravestones, but I found nothing.

Well, I did find several bottles of fog juice for the fog machine, which we hadn’t been able to find on Halloween. But that was it.

So, I scoped out the den. No gifts in there. But I did manage to locate a file folder containing a bunch of useful tax information for 1987, three water bills and an old fax machine with two faxes still jammed inside it.

By then I was getting desperate. I had shopped for an entire year, working hard to ensure that each person on my list got something perfect. And it was all gone.

I ripped apart the playroom closet. No gifts, just a bunch of old toys that Junior had stuffed in there. I took every bottle of wine out of the wine racks in another closet. No gifts – unless I gave the wine, which most of my family doesn’t drink anyway.

And after hours of looking and panicking, I realized that I had to do something. Something I wasn’t prepared for. That’s right. I had to shop again.

Normally, if I’m going shopping after Thanksgiving, I train for it. I walk miles each day to get my legs into shape to power walk the malls. I lift weights so I can push fully loaded carts through crowded aisles. And I find out when the nearest Starbucks opens so I can be fully awake and caffeinated before braving the early-bird specials.

But I hadn’t done any of that. I mean, I thought I was pretty much finished with holiday shopping. So it was a big shock to spend most of Thanksgiving Day with the newspaper and a list, trying to compile a battle plan for Friday. It was an even bigger shock to find out that this year, the stores were opening at 5am.

That’s right. 5am. As in 5 o’clock in the morning. Before Mr. Sun rises in the sky to wake up California. Didn’t the stores all open at 6am the year before? What’s going on here? Will the stores keep opening an hour earlier each year until we are forced to tailgate at Wal-Mart on Thanksgiving Day so we can be at the midnight early-bird opening?

But I went. And because I couldn’t find an open Starbucks, I had to go uncaffeinated, which is probably why I forgot my list. And that’s why I spent the entire day, going from one store to the next, unsure of what to buy.

But I did manage to get most of the shopping done – even if I have to give dad an aromatherapy basket.

And after a long day of snatching bargains out of other shopper’s hands, I came home, exhausted, poor and in dire need of a gingerbread latte. And Harry took one look at my purchases and said, “Hey, do you need me to bring home all the gifts you had me hide in my office?”

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