Festive shopping madness

Yesterday, in a state of utter stupidity, we did what no right-minded person would even contemplate doing two days before Christmas. Yes, that’s right folks, we went to the supermarket. My husband was out late the night before on a rare outing with his closest friends. So, in the spirit of not wanting him to be breathalysed the next day, I drove. Since we got our big car, my parking skills have improved no end (not really). It’s an absolute beast of a car, I adore it and it keeps my baby safe. But, parking it in a supermarket car park on the 23rd of December? Crazy. Oh no, there’s no festive spirit in this car park, it is every (wo)man for himself. I squeeze the bus into a space and we get out. I am slightly afraid, we got the last space on earth so that can only mean that the shop itself will be hideous.

We walk in and place our toddler in a shopping trolley, she loves being in the trolley. The place is HEAVING, there must have been at least 4000 shoppers. We have a list of what we need so we set off, up the first aisle.

It’s our turn to cook Christmas lunch this year. There’s only 4.5 of us (mind you, the toddler will eat a LOT of turkey, so let’s call it 5). But, we need a lot of food. People go utterly bonkers for food at Christmas, all sense of moderation is left on the doorstep. People are panic buying, filling their trolleys to the brim. A call comes over the tannoy….”Sainsburys would like to apologise for the unexpected queuing time today, this is due to exceptional circumstances, we have every possible till open”. Except it’s not due to exceptional circumstances at all, it’s due to people completely losing the festive plot. People are swearing under their breath, some people are swearing over their breath (I heard the ‘F’ word used twice, just between the veg and the dairy aisle alone).

In an effort to entertain our daughter while I gather up parsnips, my husband shows her a musical book. She likes it, she starts playing with it, she’s amused. And then he tries to take it off of her and put it back on the shelf. “Oh dear, dear, dear”, I think to myself, “never remove a toy from a child in a pressurised situation”. She’s upset, she wants out of the trolley. Meanwhile, I am on my hands and knees in the cheese aisle, trying to find the last box of Boursin cheese. I NEED BOURSIN CHEESE. I simply cannot get through the next 48 hours without it.

There’s none left. In fact, there’s hardly a scrap of any cheese at all. Just like the gaping hole where the sprouts once lay. I wait for the tannoy announcement “Sainsburys would like to apologise for the lack of sprouts available today, this is due to exceptional circumstances and the fact that people are stuffing their faces willy-nilly with vegetables that, for 364 days of the year, they hate”.

Vegetables and dairy exhausted, we move on to meat. “Have we got enough bacon?” I ask my husband. I catch myself asking this and am ashamed. We are a small family, WHY on earth are we suddenly going to turn into serial-bacon-eaters just for a couple of days? It’s madness. We lift up a second packet though, you know, just in case.

It seems that everything is done…”just in case”….at this time of year. Just in case we run out, just in case unexpected people pop over, just in case we burn something and have to recook it. But seriously people, you do not need 42 loaves of bread. You do not need 18 pints of milk. You do not need 8 varieties of vegetable on a plate. All sense goes out of the window. I mean, who have you actually got coming for Christmas dinner? PACMAN?

Which brings me on to toilet paper. Assuming that the shops now never really close and that you could pop out on the 27th (or the 26th, if it’s desperate), do you really, REALLY need a bumper back of 60 toilet rolls? Has Pacman gone and got himself the Norovirus and moved into the downstairs toilet????

Booze. As British folks, it’s only right that at some point we get a bit sloshed over Christmas. The shopping trolleys are brimful. Panic, panic, panic. “WHAT IF WE RUN OUT OF BAILEYS?”.

And finally, as I stagger up the last aisle, husband behind me with the toddler (who has now decided that she doesn’t want to be in the trolley and wants to walk by herself), I pass people fighting over the ready-made-canapes. I overhear a man say to his wife “well, I’m not going to eat 16 mini-burgers. Are you?” “No”, she replies. “But, we’d better get them anyway, you know, just in case.” In the trolley they go.

At the checkout, the staff have lost the will to live. They have been made to wear Santa hats, to make them look jolly. They are not jolly. They are dreaming of being as far away from here as they can get, in a magical land where people plan ahead or order their shopping online.

Our daughter has decided that she wants to carry some shopping, so I load a plastic bag up with some light things and she walks out of the supermarket dragging it behind her on the ground. People look at her and say “aaaaaahhhh, isn’t she cute?” I am holding her by the scruff of the neck as we make our way through the car park, little carrier bag dragging along the ground. Then it all goes quiet. I look down, she just has two plastic bag handles in her grasp. The bag is lying on the ground about 50 feet behind us. And behind that, a small trail of cheese, AA batteries and a the Muppets Christmas Carol DVD.

It’s craziness and I, for one, will not be making that mistake again. Next year will be different.

Won’t it?

(Merry Christmas everyone x)

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