Family finds sport in shopping

Tuesday, December 2, 2003

SALE. It's the most powerful word in the English language, particularly this time of year when stores are crammed with holiday shoppers searching for just the right Christmas presents.

We visited family in St. Louis last weekend, but our visit wouldn't have been complete without a shopping excursion.

Joni went shopping with her mom on Sunday. Later in the day, as we headed back to Cape Girardeau, we had to stop at a St. Louis area mall.

Hitting the mall is one of the favorite pastimes of our daughters. Becca and Bailey practically sprinted through the parking garage early Sunday evening for a chance to shop.

Their favorite hobby is to shop for clothes. It appears to me that the goal of virtually every mall clothing store is to outfit my daughters in trendy tops and pants.

Becca and Bailey have never found a clothing store they didn't like. They're experts at browsing even when I'm in a hurry.

Actually there is no way to hurry the kids through the maze of mall shopping even when the stores are getting ready to close.

Becca and Bailey don't feel a desire to hurry. After all, they like to linger at the 50 percent off tables. They already know the value of the sale rack.

As a child, I hated to go shopping.

When I did go shopping, I treated it like a quick strike military maneuver. I wanted to get in and out without having to wander down every aisle.

Even today, I get tired if my family drags me down every aisle of a discount store.

I've learned from experience that if I have to shop with my daughters, it's best to do so when Joni is along as tour guide.

It's amazing to watch moms. They have a talent for spotting just the right shirt or pants for their children from halfway across the store. They can navigate through the maze of clothes racks like a running back dodging tacklers.

When I try to maneuver around the clothes racks, I feel like I've fumbled the ball.

Shopping is clearly a sport. How else can you explain why millions of Americans would get up before first light the day after Thanksgiving, drive to the mall and wait in long lines just for the chance to rush the stores for holiday bargains on the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season?

This is the Super Bowl of shopping. Only the most experienced shoppers can compete on this field.

Joni participates in that frenzied shopping scene every year. She ventures out in the November darkness while the rest of her family is still sleeping.

It takes courage to leave the comfort of home for the madhouse of retail shopping.

Fortunately, like other stalwart shoppers, Joni has a cellular phone. This allows her to call me periodically from some long checkout line to inform me of her shopping progress.

Before we had cell phones, husbands everywhere had to wonder if their wives had wiped out the checking accounts or been crushed by stampeding shoppers.

Technology now saves us from such worry.

Joni likes getting much of her holiday shopping done at one time. I'm happy, too, because like a lot of husbands I don't have to venture into the shopping zone.

There's good reason why Santa, with his lengthy Christmas list, depends on elves. He doesn't want to have to shop himself.

335-6611, extension 123

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