I was Christmas shopping in a pet store the other day when I noticed a burly biker guy getting increasingly agitated. That’s never a good thing, but it’s especially bad when it happens in the hamster aisle, and even worse when it occurs near me. Suddenly the man of many tattoos swaggered toward me.
“Do you know where the leashes are?”
“For h-h-hamsters?” I stammered, trying not to giggle.
"Guinea pig, actually," he corrected me (on the plus side, though, he let me live). I nearly bit my tongue, at the thought of this tough, tattooed dude walking a guinea pig…
"It's for my twelve-year-old daughter. It's a gift for her pet," he growled. “But I can’t find one.”
He was in Christmas pain - that achy place you endure when you venture out of your own comfort zone and attempt to fulfill a loved one's wishes simply because you want them to be happy, even if it means you might get miserably lost in a world of tubular hamster toys, suffer the stares of strangers, and run the risk of coming home empty-handed.
I softened a little. Even Harley riders need help sometimes. Besides, he could have crushed me with his pinky. Lola, the inked portrait glaring at me from his left bicep, seemed to demand that something be done. With the eye of a seasoned shopper, I scanned the aisle for our holy grail.
“Over here," I scurried down the aisle, pushing aside a few crinkle-tunnels and chew-cubes to reveal a virtual smorgasbord of rodent leashes. "Ooh, hey, here’s one with metal studs on it!” Biker Guy brightened. Lola winked at me. Whew!
After some serious musing, Biker Guy narrowed his decision down to either a pink one with rhinestones or a studded black one. Meanwhile I did my best to stay serious, helpful, and alive. I nearly suggested that the black one matched his leather vest better, but I held my tongue. He put the pink one back. It was then I knew he was going to make some bad-ass guinea pig very happy.
In our quests for cheer, we brave the traffic, the malls, the mayhem. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we Snuggie. The time we take and the effort we make are symbolized by the gifts we give. Behind each gift is a story of bringing home the joy. The story is unwrapped with the present, bringing it to life, adding sparkle, and reminding us that while shopping for a gift can be a major pain in the patootie, it's all good.
May you not suffer too long in the hamster aisle, and may your checkout line be swift. Happy holidays.