Shopping is not something I generally enjoy. I’m not sure how I missed that “female gene.” I used to joke about needing “retail therapy,” but I’ve swung pretty far back on the pendulum and now view shopping as a loathsome task.
Still, there are activities I enjoy that involve shopping as foundational. In order to drop off goodies, I need groceries to make those goodies.
And with that activity in mind, Christmas rapidly approached. With all of my Christmas shopping electronically done by November, I hadn’t felt a great need to go grocery shopping, which I usually do every four to six weeks. Anthony grabs little things he wants/needs in the interim.
I bought groceries right before Thanksgiving, so my supplies were waning. I realized the deficit when I tried to make a pie for a potluck we attended Sunday night. The eggs were gone. I looked online for an egg substitute and tried it with disastrous results. I laughed and laughed at my jiggly pie.
In order to deliver treats on Christmas Day, I knew I needed to buy ingredients.
Buying the Necessary Ingredients
I took my list and decided to just go to Costco and do all my shopping at once. I planned to be there right as the store opened to hopefully miss the later crowds. As I approached Costco’s block, I noticed lots of traffic in the turn lane. I decided to go to the next light and park at the end of the parking lot where there are always parking spots.
As I drove parallel to the store, I saw cars crawling in search of a parking space. I looked towards the end of the parking lot. The usual blank space was filled with cars.
Whoa. Intense. No way. I kept driving right past the entrance.
What was I thinking? Obviously, I’d never shopped at Costco on Christmas Eve.
The road I drove led the Target, so I just decided to go there. I muttered to myself that I could have gone to Target or a number of other stores at 6:00 AM when I was awake but wanted to save a buck at Costco so waited until it opened mid-morning. Admittedly, the thought did come to go grocery shopping at 6:00 AM. But I thought my plans were more efficient than the prompting I received.
So I parked at the end of the ginormous Target parking lot. I found a cart outside and pushed it in, assuming carts would be hard to find inside the store. As I entered the store, I braced myself and pushed the cart forward.
Merry Christmas to all, I moaned. Actually, I did try to be cheerful and kind while meandering through the throngs.
I rarely shop at Target because it’s “so far” from my house so didn’t know where to find everything I needed. One of the reasons it took so long to find was because the major things I needed were absolutely sold out. No sugar. No graham crackers. Only unsalted butter left. No small ham. No carrots. No cream of chicken soups. Only a few chocolate chip options. Hurricane Christmas Dinner had hit Target.I assuaged my shock by stocking up on tortilla chips and queso.
I stood in the graham cracker aisle googling alternatives to graham cracker crust. Then on the next aisle over, googled again to see if I could use brown sugar in my recipes instead of white sugar.
I felt the effects of justice applying to my series of procrastinated decisions. Procrastination jeopardized my good intentions.
Did anybody need my treats to have a more joyful Christmas? No.
But I needed to give treats to have a more joyful Christmas. Our holidays look very different from most families’ holidays. I needed that focus on creation and giving to help me honor the Savior’s gift to our family.
Something astonishing happened. On a group text with two friends, I warned about Costco’s parking lot. The night before, I sent a video of my jiggly pie to them. It was hilarious. I celebrate failures by laughing.
They instantly surmised I needed eggs. One friend offered eggs. So kind!
I was already at Target, so just said I’d get what I needed. But I texted my shock when I started hitting empty shelving. They both began offering the missing items—sugar, butter, graham crackers. Everything I mentioned, they willingly offered what they had.
And so, as I stood googling alternatives to graham cracker crusts, I felt the Holy Ghost teaching me about justice and mercy.
I’d procrastinated the day of my goodies’ creation and missed the ingredients necessary to create exactly what I had planned. But through an unexpected grace, others offered up the ingredients I couldn’t buy.
What a perfect lesson about what the Savior’s grace really is. He offers the ingredients I need to present myself before God. Without Him, every offering I give falls flat.
I knew that really, but a new little piece of understanding grew when I realized that as I identified lacking ingredients and couldn’t get them myself, that’s when the mercy arrived. Until I knew what I lacked couldn’t be “made up” by me, I didn’t care about justice or mercy. As soon as I understood my plight, I recognized my weakness in planning and inability to acquire what I needed.
I ultimately decided on alternatives to everything I lacked and the goodies and our Christmas dinner turned out OK. But while cooking and delivering the treats, I mused on the singular lesson I’d received because I lacked ingredients and went grocery shopping.