Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Christmas Miracle at Dillards

I love the countdown to Christmas mainly because I like to torture my kids by bringing packages in the front door, sashaying past them with an evil I-know-something-you-don't grin, ignoring their pleas for information ("What's in there?" "Can I see?" "Is it for me?"), and carrying the package into the sewing room closet. It's odd, but Casey is one of those children that if you tell him not to go near something, he just won't go near it. You don't have to threaten him with consequences or make up an extravagant story about how all the presents will just *poof* disappear if he opens the door. I attribute this rogue strain of obedience to his naturally skittish nature -- he assumes that if I tell him not to go near something (hot stove, electricity, Christmas closet), that if he does go near it he will experience pain, or worse, in his case, failure. So he hasn't even attempted to go in the sewing room.

The only reason Mace hasn't tried to go in the sewing room is because he doesn't really know enough to try yet. When he figures it out, it will take all manner of threats and security measures, possibly tasers, to keep him out. I'll have to start hiding presents somewhere else.

Nowadays, the thing I miss most about Christmas is the element of surprise. The rules of gift-giving have changed altogether. As an adult, it's only polite to give your loved ones a short list of affordable items you might like -- to drop all the proper hints at the proper time. It saves them the frustration of figuring it out -- which I understand, since it is four days until Christmas and I still haven't bought anything for Flamingo Joe and neither has Grandma.

When Flamingo Joe and I started dating, I was so excited to have someone to buy clothes for, so I would buy him shirts and jackets and sweaters at Christmas. I found out pretty quickly that he didn't appreciate it -- he took it as an insult that I apparently thought he couldn't dress himself. He was really rather sensitive about it. He totally misinterpreted my intentions -- whether he could or could not dress himself was completely irrelevant -- I loved clothes. It gave me great pleasure and joy to buy him some. I don't find nearly as much pleasure and joy in buying him tools.

Flamingo Joe and I rarely shop together anymore, but somehow Saturday night I convinced him to go with me to the mall after supper to help me find Casey a sweater vest to wear Sunday morning to church (the kids were singing in the service). We started out at Sears and thereafter hit every single department store at the mall. I rarely shop for nice clothes for the kids -- my goal is to buy them clothes that, when they get stained with spaghetti sauce or chocolate milk within the first two minutes they are worn, don't make me cry. The ratio of time worn before stained v. cost is extremely important when selecting clothes for boys.

But there are rare occasions when I have to find something nice, and singing at church is one of them. As we made our way through store after store, the selection of nice boy clothes was limited to almost nothing. At Sears we found one sweater left in Casey's size. We hid it amongst some clothes crammed on a rack in case that was our only option and went to the next store, which I think was JCPenney's. I wish you could have seen the tables of clothes at Penney's -- it looked like a tornado had come and picked up all the clothes and dropped them again. Those poor employees were going to be there until 3 a.m. folding clothes.

Then we went on to Macy's and stopped at a couple of other smaller stores in between. Nothing. I was really surprised Macy's only had dress shirts with horrible cheap ties in sets to sell. Nothing else. And to find those, we had to lay on the floor and scoop them out from behind a rack of pants hanging against the wall where they had fallen during the shopping melee that had apparently taken place there during the day. We had been at the mall for an hour and a half and were getting discouraged. Flamingo Joe, whose bum knee was killing him, suggested we go back to Sears and buy the one sweater. I told him I thought we should hit Dillards and that he shouldn't feel like he needed to go there with me -- he was free to go back to Red Robin and nurse a beer until I got there. But he said he'd come with me and we headed to Dillards.

When we finally found the children's department at Dillards, I looked around at all the neatly hung and folded clothes that were arranged by (gasp) style and color and I heard angels singing. It was a Christmas miracle. Joe and I headed straight for the sweater vests that were hanging neatly on the wall with matching mock turtlenecks right beside them and in 30 seconds had picked out the perfect set for Casey. Then Flamingo Joe suggested we try to find something similar for Mace.

I almost passed out -- Flamingo Joe was suggesting we shop more? Gracious.

We walked across the room to the little boy department, which was arranged just as neatly. My personal belief is that when you walk into a store that sells clothes for little boys, the store should be arranged in such a way that you gasp and run to a rack saying, "Look how cute!!!!" They had the exact vest we picked out for Casey in Mace's size and the same mock turtleneck. I was having euphoric visions of my children in matching Christmas sweaters on Christmas Eve when I spotted a vest in the same colors but with a train on the front. I almost passed out -- I held it out for Joe to see and he had to keep himself from crying it was so cute (that may be a slight exaggeration).

With both the boys outfitted, we were getting ready to head for the checkout when Joe said (you're not going to believe this), "I wonder if they have that same sweater we're getting Casey in my size."

Oh my. I don't think I've been that happy in years.

It was like the very opposite of that excruciating marriage workshop we went to a couple of years ago.

So we went to the men's department and . . . sadly, no, they didn't have the exact sweater, but they did have a solid sweater vest in the same gray as the kids' vests, so we bought that for Flamingo Joe. I don't have a picture of him and the boys together yet, so you'll have to check back with me on Christmas Day.

In our post-shopping glow, we stopped at Red Robin for a Jamaican Shake (me) and a beer (FJ). As we were sitting there basking in the glory of actually finding what we were looking for and then some, I told Joe I was having trouble finding him something for Christmas and so was his mother. I told him I didn't want to just give him money to fix his tractor or whatever, I wanted to give him an actual gift. He said he didn't need anything else -- he needed to fix stuff or new stuff to work on stuff he needed to fix. For example, he said, he needs a new push mower.

A push mower?

I told him that was the same as if he bought me a vacuum/mop combo for Christmas.

He said no, it wasn't, because he would actually use the push mower.


  1. Very nice family post. Everyone knows a vacuum/mop combo is to hang clothes on the handles. Similar to how a Tred Mill is used. You put your laundry there until you can fold it. It's the same concept. Silly Flamingo Joe!

    Signed Molly Maid.

  2. I agree with Molly Maid. Same can be said for mixers in a kitchen. They're only for flopping dishtowels over while you micro your dinner on paper plates.

    Signed Betty Crocker


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