I had the misfortune of needing to make a trip to Wal-Mart on Thanksgiving morning to pick up some items I thought I needed. I say “misfortune” because . . . Wal-Mart. And Thanksgiving. I say “thought I needed” because it turned out I actually had no need for them whatsoever, which was just a bit annoying since I made the effort in vain. But it wasn’t nearly as crowded as I believed it would be, so the time consumed was minimal.
As I wheeled through the grocery aisles, dodging the pallets of Black Friday deals that were still wrapped in plastic and weaving around the shelves that had been strategically placed to block my customary route from one aisle to the next, I began to notice a recurring scene. Throughout that section of the store were men . . . pushing buggies . . . holding cell phones . . . and asking ALL the questions.
“Where is it I’m supposed to find that? . . . Well, it isn’t there. Where else would they put it? . . . Are you sure you really need that?”
“Why didn’t you get it yesterday? . . . I know you were cooking but I thought you came here, too . . . Well, I can’t find it . . . Oh! Wait! . . . . . . Nope . . . never mind . . .”
But my favorite had to be the very confused gentleman standing in the aisle where you find plastic bags and aluminum foil and all that good stuff. I was close enough that I could hear both sides of the conversation, not intentionally, but the volume was really up on his phone so unless I stuck my fingers in my ears and started singing “La-la-la-la” I was going to be privy to the conversation.
Him: “What’s it called? Clutch wrap?” Her: “It’s plastic wrap. You know . . . plastic . . . wrap.” Him: “Clutch wrap?” Her: “No. It’s plastic wrap. You know . . . it’s clear . . . and stretchy . . .”
I knew he wanted Cling Wrap. And I knew he was standing right there in front of it. But I didn’t know how to be helpful without revealing that I was also accidentally eavesdropping. So I kinda hung out around the twist tie baggies until he found his Clutch Wrap and moved on.
Do you see what was happening? Wives were at home, toiling away in the kitchen and finding all the things they had forgotten they would need. So the husbands, who may or may not have been engrossed in other, equally worthwhile activities, were sent to the store with a list that meant little or nothing to them because they don’t do the grocery shopping, so they haven’t the foggiest notion as to where anything might be. Either that or they normally frequent other establishments which, because it was Thanksgiving, had the good sense to be closed.
But one of these days, that scene isn’t going to play out anymore. One of those two will no longer be present for the holidays. Either the wife will have to run her own errands or be certain her original shopping list is complete because the husband won’t be there to pick up the last minute necessities—or the husband will be visiting someone else’s home because the chief cook will no longer be cooking—unless, of course, he also happens to cook.
You don’t always realize how much you lose when Death comes to call. When you’re sitting in the arrangement conference or greeting folks at the visitation, you aren’t thinking about the chores you’ll have to tackle alone. Who’ll get the Christmas tree out of the attic . . . or decorate it? Who’ll take the garbage out before the truck runs each week? Who’ll get the oil changed in the car? Who’ll prepare the Thanksgiving meal . . . or make the last minute grocery run? So many routine tasks that we take for granted will be handled will have to be reassigned . . . or left undone.
So the next time you send your spouse to Wal-Mart to pick up what you left behind (or you happen to be the sendee), think about how wonderful that is. The next time the Thanksgiving meal magically appears so the family can gather around the table and enjoy the day, understand what a blessing that is. The day will come when all the little things we take for granted will disappear. Don’t let that be the moment you realize how much they meant.