There are lots of drawbacks to being Jewish. But one of the advantages (at least in theory) is that you don't have to deal with Christmas. Most years, we can totally avoid the craziness of the shopping malls for the few weeks before Christmas, and feel fairly smug.
Except me. I have 3 December birthdays to deal with: my twin sons on Dec. 20, and my husband on Dec. 24. Now, I could probably avoid the crunch of Christmas shoppers by planning way ahead, but it never seems to work out that way. And even if I do all my gift shopping online, it is inevitable that at least one cake must be picked up at Costco on one of those two days.
Today was the day. Yesterday I did my food shopping for Gershon's birthday/Shabbat party tonight, along with all the pre-christmas -grocery-shoppers. And today was pick-up-the-cake-at Costco-day. And some other stuff, as long as I was there.
Needless to say, parking was a bear. But once I conquered that realm, I approached the visit like an anthropology project. It was fascinating, and sometimes amusing. As I approached the entrance, people were coming out with carts full of cakes, pies, meat, and wine. And one guy carried nothing but a HUGE box of Ritz crackers. An older couple came out with only two items: a giant box of dishwasher soap and a giant box of bird food. (I guess one of those had reached an urgency level that justified battling Christmas-eve parking lots.) Then I went inside, and it was too funny. The jewelry roadshow was mobbed with lookers. Many shoppers were on their cell phones, conferring with someone about the exact variety of their shopping assignments. Others wandered the non-food aisles with glazed eyes, desperately looking for last-minute gifts. Then there were the generals: organized shoppers with a battle plan on paper. One young couple had 8 packages of Dove chocolates in their cart, plus a bottle of wine. Myself, I was going around in circles, trying to find where they re-located the salmon. (And then I almost went into cardiac arrest when I saw the price on the salmon!)
I got my 4 items, paid and got out alive. All-in-all it wasn't too painful, as long as I looked at the amusing side of the whole thing. We had a wonderful party, the salmon was divine, and MAN that cake was good! Even though I can't entirely avoid the holiday shopping throngs, I did manage to completely avoid the Mall all month, while still supporting the economy. I feel smug. At least a little.
17 hours ago