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It had been hours since I had left my home, children in tow and my boyfriend behind the wheel of our once gently used 2004 Subaru Forrester. As we seemed to run into endless red lights, street lanes filled with like minded holiday shoppers and travelers waiting for the red glow of waiting to become an emerald hue of continued lack of turn signals, ballet circles between lanes and generally frustrated driving attitudes, I wanted to say the hell with all of it and just go home.

This notion wasn’t a possible reality, of course. It had taken twenty minutes to get my two sons to get their shoes and heavy coats on amid protests of wanting to stay home and play video games. My man would most certainly say no to the idea because he was on a mission to make me happy, and the previous twenty minutes of determination to get the boys out the door signaled to him I was determined to get out of the house in order to be happy. It is his mission to make me happy, regardless if I change my mind because he has heard enough of the boys and just wants to get this done. Like a determined military general leading a final push through enemy lines to get to the base with the weapon stash, my boyfriend is weaving around cars that hesitate more than a half second when the light eventually goes green. He is peering up at the overpass above us, and at the regular back highway we are currently on, trying to decide which way would save us even the slightest of seconds because I have to get to the store and be happy dammit!

So I sat there, trying to tune out the irritating squabbling of smart alec threats of “telling mom” if someone inched too far past their side of the back seat.  All this to pick up presents, food, and …. I don’t know what else, but I’ll think about that once at the store. If I remember, once we get there.

After all, I have two sons to keep after, a boyfriend who will most certainly wander off and leave me on my own while dealing with the pushy crowds and disorganized aisles of goods for purchase. The type of shopping adventure where you will find the item you need, but naturally the right pricing sticker is no where to be found on the shelf. This means that with two over stimulated kids in tow, you will try to seek out any employee of the store possible, and more than likely this will happen when you check out since you couldn’t find anyone before hand to answer your question. Now, not only do you have a mystery priced item that you really need so that you make Aunt Martha’s cobbler recipe perfectly, your children begin to play with the disarrayed shelf of toys by the checkout register, and you have a line of at least three people behind you that are now doing that “thing”.

The “thing”. You know what I am talking about. We’ve all done it. Where we glare at the back of the disruptive shopper’s head, psychically kicking him/her in that same head for bothering to try and go through checkout when some of the items are not priced. After all, isn’t this the busiest time of year where we have to get presents, food, and those other things I can’t think of right now, to make our celebration the most heart warming, thoughtful, and delicious time of the soon to be passing year? Forget the need to make sure everyone around us gets this experience, it’s just about our family and our celebration. This dumb ass trying to get a price check on an item at checkout just needs to tell the cashier to keep the item and finish checking out, right? Let him/her go to a different store on the way home. What’s another round of navigating through a store with obviously rambunctious and rebelling children in tow?

Yeah, this is Shitmas.

Trapped in a nightmarish adventure of getting in and out of the car for at least eight or nine stops. You originally planned to only go to four places, but it always doubles because you realize the original store didn’t have the item you needed priced, and you figured the hell with it. Hand it back to the clerk and try your luck at the next stop. The day is still early; it’s only noon time. This couldn’t possibly take all day. Right?

Eventually, my sons have turned into zombies. It’s pushing into the late afternoon. Shuffling along quietly, my eldest son’s black shoe string lazily flopping along the polished floor of the local superstore as it drags behind his black gym shoes, his red coat hanging off his head by the hood and he is twisting around, making the loose arms swirl around his torso with that annoying whooshing sound that accompanies the polyester material it is constructed with. I’ve given up telling him to not do that because “you might hit someone with your coat as you walk by them.” I know I told him to stop at least forty two times, having not thought to grab away his coat from him.

What’s the point?

I have been bumped by carts, ran into by stray children of some other stressed out parent, and have had at least three different shoppers have someone join them at the register with fifteen more items to scan. Why not live vicariously through my son’s annoying tango with his coat in the middle of the department store’s walk way? Let him whack a few people on my behalf, and unbeknownst to him, I’m smiling in side when that annoying lady who insisted on parking her cart in the middle of the toiletries aisle was smacked across her ass by his coat sleeve as we pushed through her pitiful blockade. I will get my toilet paper, and I refuse to turn around and walk all the way around and back up the other side of the row to get to it. Why? Because by the time I get back around the other side to the toilet paper, she will have pushed herself further down towards where I need to be, making the entire exercise of avoidance completely pointless.

My youngest is leaning on my lover at this point, begging to be carried or plopped into a shopping cart. He is only seven and easily floats from mindlessly bored to suddenly excited when seeing a brightly colored cardboard box with a prominent graphic of a pirate plastered across it. We are near the toy section of this store and the onslaught of excuses to stop and push the display buttons and demo triggers has begun. Naturally, I just want to move on, but I will try to use this section of the store as a momentary reprieve for my boys. Let peruse for a few minutes. He pushes the button on Buzz Lightyear, reciting the mantra “To infinity and beyond!” He spots another box with a Spider-Man figure and accompanying mask for a child to wear. Pushes a couple snoring Santa Claus figure buttons, causing the pajama clad holiday giant to snore loudly, only in triplicate. Things are going good, but the minutes feel like hours, and I pull him away, promising this is the last store and we will go home.

Of course, I still have to make two more stops, but he doesn’t need to know that yet. I’m counting on him falling asleep on the car ride home. Naturally, our family stops for some food on our way home. A spilled Dr. Pepper and tears of a tired child grace our repast within moments of feeling relaxed and out of the hub bub, and that is when I can officially call it quits. Screw the cobbler, I’ll buy some Jell-O pudding! That means the last stop will be the gas station a half mile from my house.

Kids are groaning as we park in front of the Thornton’s. My boyfriend eyeballs the Red Box and I know I will be taking the boys with me into the convenience mart. 89 cents for a fizzy freeze the signs read. 69 cents for a Reese’s peanut butter and chocolate Christmas tree shaped candy. Everywhere I look, signs advertising treats and all of them are easily read by my seven year old who desperately wants something, ANYTHING, just so he has a reason to feel happy after our arduous day out in the world of consumerism.

It’s half past 8 p.m. We are a half mile from our house. My dogs are in the kennels probably screaming to get outside, and my youngest, and now my oldest’s interest is perked, want to go on a shopping spree inside a gas mart.

What the hell……

And I do what any tired mother would do.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes…hurry up. Yes, yes, yes… Let’s go. Yes to everything, just c’mon.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Shitmas.

Two multi-flavored freezies, bags of candy, beef jerky sticks, and a couple scratch off later, we get the hell out of there and make it home eight minutes later. Five minutes later, everyone is in the house, bags are left by the floor, freezies left in the car, the dogs are let loose on the yard, and as I ease into my recliner, it hits me. I forgot the pudding.

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