The thrill of the holiday hunt

Published 9:08 am Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Just call me Mr. Prognosticator.

Every year, I wait until the final few days before Santa makes his annual rounds in order to shop for Christmas gifts. But I’m not alone…there are hundreds…no, millions…like me that postpone the gift-buying craze until the last possible minute.

However, I do have my limits. I refuse to shop on Christmas Eve…perhaps because Dec. 24-25 are my two days off from work, and, more importantly, I value my life way too much than to venture out among the final-day fanatics.

Come Saturday, Dec. 14 while the rest of the Roanoke-Chowan area citizens are sound asleep, just as the sun begins to peep over the horizon, I’ll roll over and go back to sleep.

Maybe around 8 a.m. I’ll begin to think about rising from a blissful night of rest. After 5-6 cups of coffee, I’ll be awake enough to the point to take a shower, dress and mentally psych myself to the point where I’ll fire up the Ford pick’em-up truck and head to Ahoskie to photograph the annual Christmas Parade there. After a brief stint in the office, it’s off to Gatesville for a 3 p.m. parade there. Afterwards, it’s time to go to the mall.

You may ask why I wait ‘til the final days before Christmas to do my shopping. Perhaps the biggest reason is the thrill of the hunt. There’s nothing that gets the blood pumping…other than a Scarlett Johansson movie…than to join other gift-thirsty shoppers all seeking the same prey.

As an experienced last-minute shopper, I know how to make myself unnoticed in the shopping shadows and then, bam, I make my move at just the right moment, lunge in and snatch away the last remaining gaudy sweater left on the 50 percent off table. Or elbowing some poor soul out of the way in order to have the center spot at the $2 discount CD bin. Gee, I wonder if all those names on my gift list will figure out that I purchased “The Oak Ridge Boys Live at the Dixie Stampede” CD for each of them.

Think about it…what says “I love you” better than a $6 pair of almost fake 10 caret gold earrings?

How ’bout a cheap cheese ball from one of those booths set-up inside the mall? I bet’cha I could even stop by a fast-food joint that serves those tasteless garden salads and beg for some free crackers. What a great gift idea – a cheap cheese ball and free soda crackers! I think I’ll even wrap them separately.

Better yet, what about a big old bag of hard Christmas candy? I could buy two-or-three apples and oranges, a few candy canes and a small bag of those decorative, holiday-colored Hershey Kisses; divvy them up in a couple of sandwich lunch bags and pass ’em off as “thought-provoking” gifts.

Making these last-minute gift purchases is just half the fun. The ride to and from the mall is a thrill all its own, especially if you’ve got Robert Earl Keen’s “The Christmas Song” blaring on the CD.

Even scoring a premier parking spot at the mall is part of the shopping experience. I’m not at all embarrassed to cut off some little old lady trying to make it to the same spot. After all, the Caddy she’s driving wouldn’t fit in that “Cart Return” area.

From there it’s off to the warzone, complete with a shopping budget of $100 (heck no, I don’t mind one bit splurging during the holidays).

You can’t miss me and my type in the mall among the frenzied holiday shoppers. Just keep your eyes peeled for wandering old married men who look like a deer caught in headlights.

Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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