A Grocery store Christmas story

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A Grocery store Christmas story
By Ray Hanania
Southwest News-Herald Friday Dec. 28, 2012

Nothing is more sacred on Christmas, than to be shopping at the local grocery store.

It’s the American way. Most Americans do all their important things at the last minute. Shopping for gifts for birthdays, anniversaries and graduations, all on the day before. That includes buying groceries for the Christmas dinner.

Last minute Christmas shopping became a habit for me through years of watching “A Christmas Carol.” A holiday enlightened Ebenezer Scrooge promises a passing kid on Christmas Morning “a shilling” to buy the big turkey in the butcher shop, or “a half crown” if he does it in less than 5 minutes.

That’s cutting it close. Of all the films, the 1951 film starring Alastair Sim is the best, hands down. Give me the old black and white films from the first half of the 20th Century anytime over even the most digitally graphic films today.

This Christmas, my wife asked me to go to the convenience store at the end of the block to buy a loaf of white bread. Of course, this was the perfect opportunity to go to the Jewel, a mile away, instead.

When you ask a husband to go to the grocery store for milk, don’t we all come home with $200 worth of groceries?

There’s a reason for it. Just as men refuse to ask for directions when lost, men can’t buy one item of food. It goes against our manhood. Grocery shopping is a cultural experience.

Men also know the grocery store is the best place to meet beautiful women. In fact, when I was single in the 1980s, I met more beautiful women in the aisles of the grocery store than I did on the dance floor at the Cattle Company in Chicago Ridge — a true meat market, like none other since.

So it was off to the grocery store for Christmas Eve, driving slow because that’s when police cars are hidden looking for speeders. They also know that everyone is in a last minute rush in America to buy food for Christmas, and are dying to boost their speeding ticket quotas before the end of the year.

The Jewel was packed. I found the Wonder Bread – it truly is a wonder when you can use it as an excuse to hang around the grocery store in the mayonnaise aisle. And then I bought a jar of mayonnaise. (My wife says mayonnaise can last a long time but I don’t believe her. I must get a new jar every month.)

Then I grabbed a loaf of rye bread. Then a pound of thin sliced ham. Half pound of Vienna corned beef. Half pound of pastrami. Tomatoes, green peppers, green onions, 2 packs of bacon, and zip lock bags. Zip Lock bags are confusing. They make so many sizes. Can’t they just make one that fits around a sandwich?

I’m zipping from aisle to aisle like a pinball. But so is everyone else. All on their cell phones. Talking loudly, and annoying, including at the cash register taking 10 minutes to pay for one food item.

But nothing beats the beautiful women modeling in their casual, gray elastic, baggy sweat pants, as they check out the vegetables and the meats. I look at the women. I look at the corned beef.

Hey, at this point in life, the corned beef is more satisfying.

To all you Cratchits, Scrooges, Tiny Tim’s, and Jenna Elfmans and Mila Jovovichs (Resident Evil rules!) Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. Reach him at www.TheMediaOasis.com.)

This post has already been read 114 times!

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com

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