A Procrastinators Christmas List

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A short humorous story about Christmas shopping at the last minute.

Humor / Adventure
Annette Spenner
Age Rating:

A Procrastinators Christmas List

It happens every year. I don’t know how, but it always seems to sneak up on me. You would think at my age I would know better. I’ve pleaded with myself every single year not to wait until the last minute to start my Christmas shopping.

I will have all my shopping completed before Thanksgiving. Yes! I will sit at that table with my family and I will smile and be most thankful that I won’t be the one out there this year fighting the crowds, trying to find a parking space, waiting in long lines until my feet are screaming for mercy. No, not this year. I told myself.

I circle the mall desperately searching for a parking spot. Cursing under my breath I pull into a space about half a mile from the entrance. A sudden fear quickly overwhelms me.

The list! where’s my list?

I quickly reach for my purse. Digging frantically, I find it tucked into one of the inside pockets.

Thank God!

I take a deep breath, trying to steady my frazzled nerves. I scan the long list as I trudge dutifully toward the toy store barely noticing the festive decorations that fill the crowded breezeways. I’m starting to wonder if I’m heading in the right direction. It was so easy to get turned around in the crowds.

The smell of coffee and cinnamon suddenly fills my senses as I pass Starbucks. I have a sudden urge to go in.

No, stay focused. Toys first.

I keep walking, slowly weaving through the crowds. The sounds of children reach my ears, some happy, some screaming. I take a deep breath. I must be getting close. Santa! There’s Santa. The line winding through a festive winter wonderland is impressive. I smile as I give myself a pat on the back. At least I got that over with before the lines were a mile long. The kids had made this list for me after their visit with Santa the day after our Thanksgiving feast.

Julie wanted a new doll and a baby stroller. Jamie asked for a skateboard and a new game for his play station and Mikie wanted a scooter and a guinea pig. I had to chuckle as I crossed that off the list. No live animals. I added a few items to the list that I knew they would enjoy.

The toy store was so crowded with parents and kids that I almost ran away screaming in terror.

You can do this, Sarah. I reassured myself.

I managed to find a shopping cart and made my way down the first aisle looking for the items on my list. This was madness. A kid came barreling toward me on a scooter, barely missing me. Okay, scooters this way. I crossed that off my list and grabbed a few toys I thought Mikie would like as I headed toward the video games to get A Super Mario Brothers Game for Jamie.

On the game aisle, I was frustrated by children, joysticks in hand hogging the aisles and making it difficult to shop.

Another deep breath.

I finally found an empty space where the Super Mario Brothers games belonged.

Oh, hell!

I looked around desperately for a clerk. I finally spotted a young man wearing an elf hat and a name badge that was an indication that he worked there. I finally got his attention after what seemed like an eternity.

“Excuse me, Do you have any more Super Mario games anywhere in the store?”

“No ma’am we are sold out.”

Shit! Now what? My internal demon was cursing again.

“What is a popular play station four game that is suitable for a ten-year-old boy?” I asked hopefully.

“Mine Craft is awesome. He should love it, but I’m not sure if we have any more left. Let me go check for you.”

With that, he turned and left. I could only hope that he could find me again through the throng of shoppers.

Please have one Christmas Gods, please! I crossed my fingers and waited impatiently.

After about fifteen minutes in purgatory, a smiling elf came back through the sea of kids and handed me the prize.

“You were so lucky! This is the last Mine Craft game left.”

“Thank You so much. Merry Christmas!” I gushed, almost kissing the poor guy.

I pulled a few more boy toys into my cart and headed for the girl's toys. Julie was only five and much easier to shop for. I was almost done with the kid's list. I was feeling pretty proud of myself as I finished crossing off my list with a Baby Alive doll in my cart. I headed for the checkout counter.

The lines were long, of course. I scanned the carts parked at a standstill to determine which of the lines might be fastest based on their contents. I pulled in behind a frazzled woman with two children hanging off her cart, whining incessantly to wait my turn.

I was almost there. The frazzled lady had her items out of her cart and the clerk was now unceremoniously scanning the few toys she had.

It shouldn’t be long now. I thought, celebrating merrily in my head.

Maybe I would go get that Starbucks coffee before I started on the adult list.

Price check on register nine! The words rang out, putting an end to my inner celebration.

About ten minutes later I was finally at the finish line.

“Can you please have my items sent to package pickup?” I plead.

“Yes, but you will have to go over to customer service to drop off your packages and fill out the form.” The exhausted clerk said in a monotone voice.

I searched the front of the store for customer service. There it was, another long line of grumbling parents and screaming kids.

Oh, joy,” I said under my breath as I pushed my overloaded cart over to customer service.

An hour later I was leaving the toy store from hell and winding my way toward Starbucks to take a break. My feet were killing me and I was famished.

I could smell the heavenly aroma, I could already taste the sweet creamy hot coffee as I rounded the final turn to my much-anticipated rest.

You gotta be kidding me! Another line reaching out the door and into the breezeway.

“No!” I screamed out loud.

My internal demon was cursing again as I got in line. I had to get my coffee fix or I would never make it in Dillard’s.

I finally had my precious coffee and a muffin in my hands as I searched for an empty chair. I had almost given up hope when I spotted a cozy easy chair. The Christmas Gods were finally shining on me. I almost ran to plop down into its soft embrace. I let out a sigh of satisfaction as I leaned back, easing my aching body.

What? really? I jumped up quickly, almost spitting my coffee out on the floor. I ran my free hand down the back of my jeans.

Wet, I’m wet! I look at the chair. There it was, a big fat, wet stain of what looked to be coffee spilled in the seat.

“Shit!” I yell, letting my inner demon out this time.

People are now looking at me like I’m crazy. Well, at this point, I’m getting there.

I quickly make my exit and search for somewhere, anywhere to sit and drink my coffee in peace. I find a nice hard bench and plop down next to what looks to be a long-forgotten husband. He looks at me as I sit next to him. He gives me a nod and goes back to looking at his cell phone.

As I finish stuffing the muffin down and taking the last sips of my coffee, I pull out the adult list. I have my husband, Joe, Mom, Dad, My sister, Cathy and my brother, David. My friend Lorraine, and I need to get the secret Santa gift for my dreaded office party tomorrow night on Christmas eve.

Dillard’s was busy but compared to the toy store, it was Christmas heaven. It smelled wonderful and the displays were gorgeous. I could feel my pulse start to relax. I took out my list. This would be a breeze. I had thoughtfully planned the list in advance. Dillard’s had gift wrapping and I was thrilled that I would not have to wrap the adult's gifts. That would save me tons of time and aggravation. I slowly made my way around the store and gathered the items on my list.

So far, so good. I thought happily.

The cashier assured me that my items would be taken over to gift wrapping after I paid for the life-saving service.

Imagine that I thought, feeling a sudden rush of euphoria.

She handed me a ticket and instructed me to take it with me to claim my items and choose my gift wrap.

I thanked her profusely and headed over to gift wrapping.

I stopped in my tracks. There it was, the line.

This is insane! My inner demon was making a reappearance.

Too late now. I would have to suck it up. I looked at my ticket, Number fifty-four. The number illuminated on the wall behind the wrapping station read thirty-six. I searched the wall of gift wrapping choices for a pattern I liked. I had my choices in mind as I finally approached the counter. I gave one of the wrapping ladies my ticket.

“Let me get your items together for you and then, Michelle will get your items wrapped. I’m going to lunch.”

“Thank you,” I said with a sigh of relief.

A young girl came out from the back with a cart containing my gifts. She smiled at me nervously.

“Ok, on the first item, what paper would you like?" She asked, pointing at the sample wall.

I pointed at the pretty silver foil wrap.

“I’ll take number eight on that item.”

She searched through the rolls of wrap.

“Sorry, we’re out of that one now.”

“Oh, okay how about number five?”

“nope, that one’s out too.” she quipped.

“I’ll tell you what, just find a wrap that you do have and use that. I don’t care just make it look nice.” I said exasperated.

“Okay, sorry.”

I proceeded to watch as Michelle slowly, painstakingly wrapped all seven gifts with her two left thumbs. I tried to be patient as I stood there wanting desperately to jump behind the counter, strangle her and wrap them myself.

Finally, after what seemed like, oh heck was an eternity, she was done.

“Can you get these out to package pickup for me, please?” I begged.

“Of course. I’ll get you a ticket for pickup.” Michelle answered.

I felt mentally and physically wrecked as I limped the half-mile across the parking lot to find my car. I couldn’t wait to sit down. My feet were killing me. I searched the lot, not quite sure where my car was. I must have walked a mile by the time I finally found my car in the sea of vehicles.

Thank God, my car! I sighed heavily exhausted. I swear I almost abandoned hope of ever finding it.

I jiggled my key into the lock and slid behind the wheel, feeling instant relief. I was done, I was finally done. All I had to do now was go to package pickup and gather my Christmas loot. I looked into the rearview mirror to check my reflection. I looked like hell.

Merry friggin’ Christmas I said to myself in the mirror.

Next year I was going to get my shopping done before Thanksgiving.

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