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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

For the second time in my 26 years, I ventured out to shop on the day after Thanksgiving. My mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and I thought we’d have a lovely day battling for air to breath at an outlet mall in Charlotte. My sister-in-law warned us about the size of this place, but we weren’t prepared for the parking lot. Wal-mart sized lots surrounded the whole complex and there still weren’t any empty spaces. I’m not exaggerating. We were reduced to following people around for their spaces, and to our dismay, we found that most people couldn’t remember where they had parked. We would follow a set of bagged-up shoppers down an aisle with glee. They would walk towards a car—-and dart right through to the next aisle where some lucky driver was haphazardly wandering about, hoping a spot would come open. We were the ones with strategy!

After this happened several times and we got over our debilitating case of the giggles, we found some people with good memories who led us on a long journey to the end of the lot. There, we found our promised land and pulled right into it after waiting for the current residents to evacuate. They took their time, too, on purpose, we thought. I must admit, I get irritated when people go to excessive means to find spots at the front of a lot. (I get irritated at a lot of things, to tell the truth.) But come on, they could have had some pity on us. They had finished their bout with consumer madness. It was afternoon already and we hadn’t even started ours. Besides, the spot was a mile from the nearest entrance (in our exhausted brains, anyway) and we were obviously desperate. (In their defense, however, being stalked by a slow moving car full of giggling women must be kind of unsettling.)

Well, we parked. Next we started the trek up to section 1 where we were planning to find a mall directory and locate our destinations. On our way to the section 1 entrance, much closer to the front of the lot, we witnessed a sight that really confirmed what a wonderful time of year this is. A man and his wife (I presume) were waiting for a car to leave its spot. We knew this because he had his signal on, and, as we all know, that means, “I was here first. I’m gettin’ this one.” My mother-in-law noticed that a pick-up truck had pulled up next to him and figured its driver was intending to take the man’s spot, so we stopped and looked, hoping our presence would fill the parking lot thief with shame. It didn’t. He pulled in. The guy waiting for the spot honked and yelled. We stared in indignation, and the thief backed out. We thought we had accomplished a great victory, but the thief was just straightening out and ended up pulling right back in. We almost got hit by his poor victim, who took out his frustration on his steering wheel and gas pedal right in our direction.

Oh the spirit of Christmas!

All that, and the only things I got were some holly stems for Christmas decorating and a pair of sore feet.

And the memories.