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A Christmas Of Good Intentions
By:Tim Knox

If the Christ child had been born in a mall instead of a manger, we would not be celebrating Christmas today. The Three Wise Men would have never found a place to park. Then again, everyone knows you won't find a wise man in a mall parking lot a week before Christmas. That trip into holiday hell is left to lesser-thinking men. Men like me.

You see, I've always been one of those "wait till Christmas Eve, then grab the first thing you see and hope they like it" kind of shopper. A last-minute-man, that's what I am. But this year was going to be different. This year I was going to shop... dare I say it... early.

I was very proud of myself at first, going shopping an entire week and a half before actually having to produce the gifts. To be totally honest, it was my wife who insisted that I venture out early this year. Never a big fan of what she calls my "desperation method of shopping," she put her foot down last year after I presented her with a "Braun Nose Hair Trimmer 2000" and a lovely set of "Elvis Presley's Love Me Tender" sheets and pillow cases. I still don't understand what she was so upset about. That nose hair trimmer does a fine job of shaving the fuzz off her sweaters and every woman wants to sleep with The King... at least that's what the label said.

Independent surveys have shown that as a last minute shopper, I am not alone. One study conducted by the South Hampton Institute of Technology's Hammond-Egger Anthropological Department concluded that:

"...the tendency to put off gift shopping until the last possible minute is exhibited primarily by the male of the species. Individual case studies, as well as a number of autopsies performed on men who were run down in mall parking lots on Christmas Eve, suggest that this penchant for postponing purchasing is caused by the same hormone that makes men hesitant to dance in public, hug their mother-in-law and admit that they thought "Terms of Endearment" was a pretty decent film. Scientifically speaking, it's a guy thing."

So there I was last Saturday afternoon, almost two weeks before the big day, cruising the mall parking lot with a thousand other idiots out to prove their wives wrong. Bumper to bumper we crept, inching up one row and down another, as if any of us actually had a prayer of finding a space that didn't require taking a cab back to the mall. They say the suicide rate rises around the holidays. I'll bet if they looked into it they would find that most of these poor souls decided to chuck it all after spending a frustrating day driving round and round the mall. It's enough to drive anyone over the edge.

For a while, I did what everyone else was doing: following pedestrians who were walking through the parking lot in hopes that they were about to vacate a space. This proved to be a fruitless plan because none of these people ever seemed to find their car. I finally figured out why: they were the "I know I parked my car around here somewhere, but danged if I know where" people. These poor saps were even worse off than those of us who couldn't find a place to park. At least we were inside our nice, warm cars. They were wandering around in the cold like extras from "The Night of the Living Dead."

Being the quick-thinking, early shopper that I am, I offered to drive one of these zombies around until we found his car if he would give me his space. It proved to be a brilliant plan. Ten minutes later I was parked and walking through the lot toward the mall, a line of cars following close behind.

I have to admit, at this point I was feeling pretty cocky about the whole situation. I had managed to nab a parking space in the same county as the mall, had managed to make it inside the mall without being mugged or run down or assaulted by one of those overzealous bell ringers, and I was going to get my shopping done a full week and a half early.

I was overcome with the spirit of Christmas. Nothing was going to ruin my mood. Nothing.

Then, I stepped into the mall and everything changed.

But that's another story!

Tim Knox

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