Christmas stories are a tradition in many families.
You hear of folks talk about watching Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” every year.
I used to like Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” until some smartypants around here started referring to me as Scrooge. (I’m as cheery as can be around Christmas — I don’t know what they’re talking about.)
My favorite Christmas stories maybe were a little different. I liked reading the Greek tales of guys going into the underworld to my kid.
One of the best is Orpheus and Eurydice. I loved the idea that Orpheus was such a neurotic he couldn’t follow the simple rule of not looking back at Eurydice until both are out of the underworld. He peeked and messed everything up.
I bet he got an earful from Eurydice the next time he saw her.
I recently discovered those Greek boys were not just being fancy and symbolic.
I would like to report I have now traveled to the underworld of shopping in a mall during Christmas and I never thought I would make it back.
Sunday, I took my daughter, Katy, shopping. To be more specific I took her shopping for boots.
Hell cannot possibly be this tortuous and I had no idea there were so many malls around. Where did they all come from and why doesn’t anyone ever tell me anything?
It was Katy’s birthday, which is a week before Christmas, and always has been. Bad timing.
This year I got a bright idea and told her I’d take her out to buy something.
I thought this was a clever trick because I didn’t buy her a present like I was supposed to according to rules of the stupid parent universe.
When I offered to take her shopping to buy something I figured she’d just tell me to fork over some money and she would go buy it herself.
I would do the obligatory whining and acting like I really wanted to go, then quickly give her the money while I was still in arm’s reach of the couch.
Nope. She said going together to buy something was a dandy idea.
How diabolical is that?
Let me tell you, my journey to the underworld makes Orpheus’ puny problems look like cotton candy as far as I’m concerned.
First we went to buy her some running shoes or something. I wasn’t listening that closely. I just kept nodding thinking, “How long can this possibly last?” I think that was about noon.
We went to the first mall and zipped through store after store,
I would like to put in a request that stores place couches with big pillows around for dads with daughters.
How hard can that be? Maybe a little TV, a few complimentary snacks, and a drink would be nice as well.
All I found were concrete slabs to sit on. The minute I found an angle I could tolerate it was on to the next store.
If I put my coat on I would sweat. If I took my coat off I shivered.
By 2 p.m. I was seeing colored lights before my eyes and feeling woozy.
By 3 p.m. I suddenly found out we were now shopping for boots. Katy said the right boots were much harder to find.
I think that is when I started hearing Gregorian chants.
While stumbling from one boot store to the next I had an epiphany. No one on earth understands why women buy the things they buy or how they do it. It’s voodoo magic.
After six grueling hours of unimaginable pain and suffering, I could barely walk, I was disoriented and incoherent. Suddenly Katy said, “We should have come here first. I found them.”
I could not see the difference between these boots and the first boots we saw hours and hours earlier, but, by the time she found her boots they could have cost $10,000 and I would pulled out my card.
She assured me they were a really good deal because the boots were a designer brand by Guido Barfalot or something like that. I just nodded and prayed there was a path to the surface.
On the ride home she talked about her new boots and how much she liked her birthday present. I thought she sounded like the same little girl I have always known.
As we drove away from the mall I made sure to be very careful…and not look back.
Have a merry Christmas and happy new year.