One Saturday in December

0900 hours

Going out today on a mega-errand run: pet store, office supply store, supermarket, buy the Christmas tree, hardware store, home improvement store, cable company…not necessarily in that order.

First, it’s breakfast at the diner, the calm before the storm, a last chance to compare notes. Then the battle begins.

We have a coupon for the pet store, the sale on office chairs ends today at the office supply store, we’ve been very busy and now our cupboards are bare so we have to hit the supermarket if we want to eat tonight and for the foreseeable future, we’re planning to get a smaller Christmas tree than usual (of course, we always say we will get a smaller tree than usual but we never do, I must factor in that fact), if we do, we have to buy a smaller Christmas tree stand at the hardware store, the stop at the home improvement store is to get today’s sale price on the shelving we bought there two days ago, and the cable company stop is to exchange our remote control – which I have threatened to throw into the ocean – for the new version which is supposed to be the answer to all of our troubles. If only.

But where to start? How to pull this off? There’s only so much room in the car.

It’s like the fox, the chicken and the sack of feed… If we buy an office chair at the office supply store, that will take up much of the room in the back, then we will have to do a separate run for the Christmas tree; but if we don’t find a chair we like, the size of the tree will determine whether the stop at the supermarket will be to just get what we need for today and go back tomorrow to get the rest or to get it all now. There are other possible outcomes with each stop that can impact each later stop, some of it is obvious, some of it is nuance and some, I fear, we have not thought of, not taken into consideration. There is the distinct possibility that each stop could be a failure or that just one bad outcome or one instance of stopping out of order could throw the entire day into a tailspin the likes of which could threaten our entire holiday season. The pressure is almost unbearable.

You need to have a Plan A and Plan B and be flexible enough to throw them both out and ad lib a Plan C. You can’t just say, “Hey, let’s go to the store,” and jump in the car willy nilly and say, “Where should we go first?” No, no, no! Are you kidding? There is strategy involved. It’s more involved than preparing to land at Normandy.

I am in charge of remembering all of the stops and rearranging the order as events warrant. She is in charge of remembering what it is we have to do at each stop and adding or deleting items pending further developments.

Eisenhower never faced such a challenge.

D Day is here. One can only hope we are ready.

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