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Christmas Shopping

Dear Pastor David,

I must apologize to you. Today brought me a horrifying journey into a mysterious realm of sight, color, and smell. I should have asked for your prayers for taking this epic expedition. Selling windows for the steel industry and facing 300 tons of molten metal on a regular basis failed to prepare me for the trek. My job took me fearlessly through sparkles of liquid steel and heights overlooking the ground by 100 feet. Yet, none of this prepared me for the fear I faced today. My lovely bride of fifteen years wanted a sweater for Christmas, and it was too hard to tell what they looked like or felt like from the internet. I made plans to visit the place of nightmares and shivers, more commonly known as the mall.

The plan for this campaign came with reconnaissance and precision. Viewing the internet the night before, it revealed Macy’s great deals on women’s clothes. The mall map exposed the door closest to Macy’s women’s department. I quietly slinked into the store and immediately found two sweaters, which both fit the bill. My shaky hands remind me of two whole minutes elapsing from passing through the door. Trying to make a decision that could forever affect my future, I noticed a woman shopping and asked for help. She granted me help with a smile, “The solid red sweater would make it easier to match it to other clothes.” Armed with this knowledge, I made the decision.

In the store for almost five minutes brought a heavy sigh and I thought the hardest part of the shopping trek done exceeded my plans. Then the realization of something else was required for under the tree, I pressed on. She mentioned needing new bras and had gone without a bubble bath since July. By happenchance, I passed a display with Harry London Buckeyes on sale for $5.99 and picked up a box. Now, I had a sure-fire hit for Christmas as a stocking stuffer. A bath area appeared next to the perfume counter at the other end of the store when I cautiously roamed the store.

I was now as far away from the door I came in without leaving Macy’s. My palms were sweaty, and my hands were shaking, but I was still within my plans. Being the good husband I am, I engaged the clerk at the counter and asked for bubble bath like Oliver Twist asked for more. She had one kind of bath soap, a ginger flavored, which I knew would not go over well. “Is there anywhere else I can go?” was my query. She informed, “Bath & Body Works by J.C. Penney.”

This journey became foreboding as I left my plan of attack. The sight of kiosks lining throughout the center of the mall with people selling things I did not want, sent shivers down my back. The workers beckoned to me like the Sirens in the Odyssey. Passing many of them up when one left the rocks of the kiosk and lured me with a “free gift.” In her mesmerizing way, she commanded me to hold out my finger. She started to rub it with a blue and white block. Then, with the excitement of a child meeting Santa Clause, she asked if I wanted to be amazed. Removing the block, one shiny fingernail mirrored back to me. The temptress tried to lure me into her vortex of amazing nail care, but I escaped her snare.

Then Victoria Secrets appeared to my left, “Aha, a new bra. That might just do it.” Remembering my wife’s size, I think, “This is easy,” and so I entered the store with victory in my heart. As part of my strategy, I arrived early to avoid the crowds of confusion. This meant better service with a warm and caring face that pleasantly greeted me. “I am looking for a bra for my wife.” I obviously failed to study for this test. Knowing her size was not nearly enough information to buy a bra. This test started with color, ended with a barrage of style and fit questions. It felt like High School again and the teacher gave unprepared me a surprise test. I scurried out of the store defeated but not discouraged.

J.C. Penney appeared at the far end of the mall but could not find Bath & Body Works. The directory shows me at the front entrance and B&B Works was near the back entrance. The thought of another march through the Odyssey of kiosks brought me to panic. A verse repeated in my head, “Though, I walk through the valley of death, I shall fear no evil.” Knowing the Bible better would have helped because the rest of that passage did not come to mind. Over twenty minutes passed since beginning the journey, I started to feel high anxiety.

I found Bath & Body Works. Again, I received immediate attention upon walking into the store. “I am looking for something women put in their bath to feel happy.”

“Oh, aromatherapy bubbles,” a greeting smile took me to the shelf. “These are our most popular,” she continues. She babbles on about softness and smells but by this time, I just want some and get out. I quickly choose Vanilla, and Milk & Honey. They both smelled like soap to me. I hustle for the Macy’s exit, which I came in. My nerves pulsate as I fumbled for my keys trying to open my car and it had a remote unlock button.

Oh, the treacherous journeys a man will make for love are more amazing than one shiny fingernail.

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