Young@Heart: I Can Tolerate Wal-Mart. . .But Not at Christmastime!

I Can Tolerate Wal-Mart. . .But Not at Christmastime!


When I got organized in June, 1977, I’m ashamed to say I indulged in my first gloat shopping that Christmas. I had all my gifts bought and wrapped by Dec. 5, and went out on several gloating expeditions, where I’d watch hassled shoppers paw through merchandise searching for the perfect gifts. I know, I know, not really the Christmas spirit, but I’d spent so many panic-stricken shopping sprees in my chaotic past that it was kind of fun to be free to observe others and be glad that was a part of my painful past.

Today, I’ve outgrown gloat shopping. I no longer delight in seeing frenzied holiday consumers, I just wish they’d get organized so they could enjoy the holidays a little more. In fact, I do very little Christmas shopping because we give cash, the perfect gift! But I still like to get out and see the store decorations and sop up the excitement of children getting to see Santa Clause at the big mall in town.

There is one place I have decided I don’t want to shop during the holidays; Wal-Mart. Yesterday, I went there with a browsing desire and a small grocery list. I planned to wander the aisles, see what was new and get the groceries last. But I wasn’t in the store five minutes when I wanted to bust out of there! I even started to itch. Not the hives kind of itching, but the antsy, psycho itching I get when I experience sensory overload. Too much stuff, too much noise. I felt like Rain Man when he’d get upset with harsh sounds. A bull in a Chuck E. Cheese comes to mind.

I can’t totally blame my itchiness on Wal-Mart. I was there at the wrong time of day. Five pm. At five o’clock, Wal-Mart resembles a cavernous daycare facility where almost everyone was acts like a child. Hassled parents haggled with their kids up and down the aisles in search of stuff for dinner. Everywhere I looked there were babies crying, tired moms fussing and hungry kids hanging out of carts reaching and begging for the abundance of junk food (at kid level) they could see and touch.

Add to my bad timing the fact that it’s Christmastime at Wal-Mart and it was a ticket to hell for me. They always have too much stuff, but during the holidays, they have twice as much, plus they play Christmas music way too loud! If you want to experience the worst Christmas music in the world, come to the Wal-Mart in Woodland, Washington. It’s just dreadful. Oh and one more awful thing; the place where Santa Claus sits when he’s in. (Yes, Wal-Mart does Santa Claus.) The scene consists of really bad drawings of a fireplace with stockings hanging on the mantle, a Christmas tree with gifts underneath and a few elf helpers holding candy canes. An empty chair (a metal fold-up kind) holds a sign telling Santa’s hours. With the tinny, loud music blaring, I took a look at my grocery list and decided I could get along without everything on it and I hit the door running.

William James said, “Things are not as they are, but as we are.” I know deep down that’s true and I’m willing to take another shot at shopping at Wal-Mart during the holidays, but I’m going to have to listen to my own music on my IPOD and I’ll be going at five am.

Come to think of it, I think I’ll just stay away until after the holidays.

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