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.)
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"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
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, Hanania 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. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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