At the holiday season, here is my celebration of my taste in gift giving. Seven years ago, at a mall in central North Carolina, I stood at a cash register with my selection. I was admiring the polo shirt I had picked out. It would fit either my husband or son. I ran my fingers over the fabric, gray and black horizontal stripes with a contrasting purple stripe bisecting the upper torso. Gray soft collar. A woman standing in line next to me said, “That is a great looking shirt. Where did you find it? I’d like one.”
“In the men’s department, and yes, I like it.”
She left standing in line at the cash register to go look for one.
I stood thinking about the short sleeves. They would be perfect for summer. The gray and black would be good for the rest of the year, a winter color. My husband is hot-natured and rarely wears sweaters in cold weather, so he could wear the dark colors. I paid and left before the other shopper returned.
On the Saturday before Christmas 2009, I heard the weather reports and decided to check out the mall during the afternoon, a celebration of clear roads, no snow, and crowd watching combined with a little shopping. My son probably could use another pair of winter pajama bottoms, so I looked for a pair. I selected a pair of lightweight flannel bottoms, in a wintry red and black plaid, concentric rectangles and squares. The pajama bottoms were holiday colors but suitable for other winter days. I also selected nondescript boxers and put both items over my arm. I turned from the pajama section to the main aisle in the men’s section and proceed to look for a green cotton sweater I had seen earlier.
A woman was coming down the main aisle. She looked at the pajama bottoms and said, “I like those.” I smiled and said, “They are nice.” I proceeded toward the sweater display and felt a tug on my arm. I turned around. It was the same woman. “Where did you find those? I really like them.”
I pointed across the store to the corner of pajamas, underwear, and other men’s “furnishings,” as one bronze lettered sign indicated. “Pajamas are over there, diagonally from where we’re standing.”
The woman left. I looked at sweaters and noticed a holiday Fair Isle design. In the south, however, Fair Isles and fair aisles come in mostly 100% cotton. Just like last time, I didn’t wait for the other shopper to return. I left the department store with my shopper’s instinct gratified and confirmed for another season and rehearsed how I would tell my son and husband about how my selections and their gifts were held in high esteem.