This is the Thanksgiving that was
Sometime between greeting my mother-in-law, Pearl, at the front door, fresh her from her trek from
her cozy place in Fort Worth, and taking her to Wally-World that Wednesday evening, I decided to mentally shift my attitude to the merry, jolly, and surreal season of Thanksgiv-a-Christmas.
Plans for Thursday underway, no undue pressure. Wednesday night plans – Pearl (Jewish MIL) and Steve (dear, sweet, anxious husband) relaxing, visiting and entering the NCIS-marathon abyss. (Pearl can’t get enough of the show.) Then I’d bake off some cornbread in anticipation of the awesome stuffing I would make after the turkey roasted for the prescribed 4 hours (I did thaw it sufficiently!)
But Pearl wanted to exchange the Wal-Mart slacks she bought for Celia (daughter No. 1 she would spend Christmas with – in Colorado – in a month) the last time she came to visit us. This priority purchase needed amending before her homeward departure on Saturday. (Oh, FYI, she’s staying until Saturday.)Steve and I counseled her on the folly of such a T-Day Eve forray, but to no avail.
The older Wal-Mart across town (hopefully less crowded than the year-old store near us) is down the street from Home Depot, and of course, Steve needed something shelf brackets, I think, from the Big Orange Box … we trekked through rows empty of hardware hungry customers, yet crammed with pallettes, boxes and busy stockers. Then we traveled to the ominous asphalt expanse – a crowded, chaotic demolition derby. This was Wal-Mart on a Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving. Where vehicles, shopping carts and humans collide in the name of the festive holiday spirit.
Steve is not a patient man. He wanted to park close to the entrance. So did the 2,379 souls he encountered. (I made up the figure for dramatic effect.) No physical harm came to anyone, nor damage to carts or cars, although my hubby threatened major mayhem from inside our Saturn as we meandered the parking aisles
“They’re pulling out!’ No, they’re parking.
“That space is open!” No, it’s a shopping cart corral.
Finally a space opened, we slid in. Steve, muttering terribly unkind passages, guided his “two girls” through shadowy figures and into the store.. Pearl couldn’t hear him – her hearing aids – were squealing in hi-definition.
We were in the store, yay.
Pearl went to Customer Service, Steve to electronics and I to Women’s Wear. Most of the harried shoppers were in Grocery. Yay, again.
McDonald’s – inside the store – clambered with Big Mac Attackers, mommies chased theirs kids no doubt hopped up on sugar and visions of X-Boxes on sale (yes, Black Friday was fast approaching) and frenetic folks seemed to reach warp speed, knocking past one another while searching for just the right jar of mince (whatever that is).
Cell phones saved us from a mad search for each other. Pearl called Steve, who saw me waving at Pearl, who didn’t see me waving her direction … the end was in view. Ready for frenzied sale searchers and last minutes pie bakers, check stands lit up and express aisles moved exiting customers rapidly through the gauntlet.
And at last we sprang through crowds of incoming shoppers, leaving the warm glow of the shopping Mecca – once again out side and maddening parking lot trumoil. Once more Steve steered past Kamikaze pedestrians and hunter-killer vehicles, finally escaping onto Loop 288 – homeward bound.
“That was scary!” Pearl exclaimed. “I wouldn’t have gone there if I had known it would be this bad.”
I envisioned old footage of the Pope kneeling and kissing the ground after descending from an airplane some sort of round-the-world trip. I thought of doing the same as we three climbed out of the car – lowering myself to the driveway, planting my lips on Terra Firma, while sending prayers to God for safely returning us home.
After a glass of wine, Pearl and Steve all nestled in the living room watching another NCIS episode, I scooted to the kitchen, mixed a batch of cornbread batter, loading it into the baking dish and into the oven. The bubbling goodness of sweet, homespun aroma wafted through the house.
Soon we felt sleep coming on. With cornbread cooling, Gibbs, Ziva, et al, turned off, Wal-Mart Wednesday melted into soft slumber, and then
a frosty Thursday morning. Promise of turkey, cornbread stuffing, green bean casserole, pecan pie and football filled our thoughts. Thanks and praise for blessings of food and family – no sales, exchanges refunds, gift wrap or 15-minute parking zones until another day.