I spend a good portion of the holiday season (and ready or not, we're in it now!) trying to avoid crowds. Although it seems a contradiction, I eagerly anticipate Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's and everything in between for most of the year; the festive decorations, the vibrant colored fruits in the grocery stores, the eggnog, the music, the bright and tiny lights on festooned homes twinkling against the dark winter sky.
Just not the crowds.
Navigating a store that is packed cheek-to-jowl while trying to keep tabs on five kids who are dazzled by every jingling bell and battery operated widget they walk past (of which there are too many to recount) is an exercise in futility. I end up forgetting half or more of what I went to the store to buy because I'm every bit as bad as the kids. What's that? Oooh, a red 90th anniversary Kitchen Aid mixer! Come on, guys, it'll just take a second to look and I promise we'll come right back to the toy aisle.
But oh, the food! The victuals, or procurement thereof, are reason enough to brave the madding crowds. The cranberries, pomegranates, pumpkins, oranges, grapefruits, hams, roasts, turkeys, eggnog, green beans, wine, chestnuts and other crucial items that make up holiday feasts are the only reason I tackle shopping with anything resembling enthusiasm.
The boys inevitably go with me, which would normally be a handicap. Not in festive food shopping! Over the years, I've developed a game plan that uses their individual personalities and with extensive, cross-referenced lists in hand, organized according to store we attack.
Liam, who is naturally inclined to push his brothers around, pushes the cart in which Rowan and Leif have been strapped. (God bless the person who designed those shopping carts with plastic trucks, steering wheels and seat belts. And may God even more richly bless the genius who came up with disinfectant wipes in purse-sized packages.)