Ed McMahon, the affable sidekick to Johnny Carson put it this way, “I never go shopping with amateurs!” The subject used to come up this time of year when Johnny would ask him if he had his Christmas shopping done yet. It seems that Ed never set foot into a store until December 23rd. This week, when driving by my neighborhood Target store, it seemed to me that everyone is the city is Ed McMahon this year.
The parking lot was packed! Wall to wall cars filled with wide eyed drivers searching for that nonexistent parking place so they can get that last present for Aunt Jenny or Uncle Bob. I can tell you, there was little Christmas spirit there; from my vantage point at the stop light at the entrance to the mall, I could see the mighty struggle between shoppers vying for that one space that was less than a quarter mile to the door. The sky was filled with honking and hooting, and it was not from the geese flying overhead. I think they were a little put off from all the noise. Not to mention the turbulence rising off the lot buffeting them all over the sky. Even the ever-present seagulls had vacated to smaller, less crowded parking lots. I have that on good faith from Jonathan Livingston Seagull, with apologies to Richard Bach.
Some years, I am a late shopper and some, I’m not. Being the techie that I am, I am now mostly an online Christmas shopper. But I do remember back in the day Mom grabbing my brothers, sister and me and headed out to the store to buy presents for our cousins. Every year, we had our immediate family early morning Christmas unwrapping. Well maybe not so early morning since we usually went to Midnight Mass the night before. But early enough for us kids to roust out parents out of bed before they wanted to be up. Later we packed up the car with kids and the presents we bought on that annual shopping trip with Mom and headed for the big family Christmas dinner with all our aunts, uncles and cousins.
The big Christmas shopping trip continued once I went to college and moved away from home. We would head out to the mall and shop for our friends and family. The goal was to get it all done on one trip and have some time to relax and enjoy before Christmas came. And that happened most years. Once in a while, however, we would be part of that panicked herd, foraging in the malls the weekend before Christmas, promising in out of breath gasps that we would never wait again this late to shop.
This year, most of the shopping was done online but there still are one or two presents to be purchased. So later today, we’ll venture out to the mall in a smaller version of the wild quests going on around us. It will be a great experiment to see if the panic around us is contagious. The good thing is that I already know what I need to find. So there is less pressure. Still, it will be good to put my feet up later today knowing that it is all DONE!
That takes care of Christmas. One week then it is New Year’s Eve. It will be time to prepare for that major league party. Well, maybe not! More like time to watch the ball drop on TV. Again remembering the words of that sage, Ed McMahon, who known for his ability to hoist a drink said that he does not go drinking with amateurs either; he stayed in on New Year’s eve. Good old Ed was a wise man. Oh MY!