Posted by: Hannah | 01/04/2015

why my word of the year is not “kindness”

Did you all have a nice Christmas?

We did. I daresay we had the best one we’ve had in years. The weather was unseasonably warm, so we took lots of walks (and even rambled cheerfully through the park one day). The kids got a nice mix of foolish toys I will be picking up off the floor for months – oh, Lego, I wish we could quit you! – and longer-term project toys that will be very welcome come February.

They also got the newest Skylanders game, which… dear me. I love that they love it, but holy shit this fourth version of the game is expensive. All of the figures cost more. And you need eight different “Trapmaster” figures to open all of the special side-quest gates. Oh, and eight villain traps. And a partridge in a pear tree, probably.

I imagine the creator of Skylanders lives in a solid gold house. They certainly can afford one.

Anyway, Christmas was delightful, right up until we caught a stomach virus from my brother’s family. George, Ron, and I all went down in rapid succession. Vomiting! Fever! Joint aches! Lethargy! It was just awesome. George scared me half to death, because for the five hours of active vomiting, he wouldn’t wake up. He was quite literally vomiting in his sleep, and I’d drag him out of bed, fighting him to tilt his head forward lest he choke.

The kids bounced back fairly quickly; it’s taken me longer to recover. As soon as the stomach virus was banished, I picked up a nasty sore throat / head cold combo, which I still think could be the same bug in mutated “mom who couldn’t slow down” form.

Yesterday I was feeling a little better, and with a winter storm in the forecast for today I knew I had to go shopping. We needed groceries for the week, and presents for George’s third birthday, and with everyone back to school & work on Monday there was literally no other time I could do it.

I girded my loins and headed out. To a grocery store. On the day before a storm.


The grocery store wasn’t terrible, all things considered. I was able to get everything on my list. I only had to murder three little old ladies and two men who smelled like they haven’t bathed since November to get through the aisles. A note to Sobeys – stop putting all your discounted Christmas merchandise on pop-up displays at the ends of all the aisles. The congestion! my god. Especially in the canned goods aisle, which was jammed full of panicky people bracing themselves for a week without power by, apparently, buying all the Campbell’s they could lay their hands on. I slalomed around carts parked askew, weaving in and out, thinking of all the people I’ve seen virtuously posting on Twitter that they resolve to “be kinder” and “less judgmental” and “stop the negativity” in 2015.

Mazel tov, folks. I haven’t got the intestinal fortitude to stop thinking “holy jesus man you are choosing between brands of instant coffee, it all tastes like fried tree bark, JUST PICK ONE AND GET OUTTA MY WAY“. I’ll try being nicer when my fellow humans try being smarter, is what I’m saying.

Groceries packed in the trunk, I headed for Wal-Mart. That’s when the wheels came off.

The head cold is making my ears congested, and it seems to be blocking sounds in the low registers. High-pitched noises are getting through in deafening fashion. The store music system was blaring a weird, crazy-making mix of 90s pop tunes – oh, Spice Girls, please no – and 60s surfer rock. I could actually feel myself getting stupider the longer I stood there. The store was crammed full of people. The shelves were largely bare, sadly picked-over from the last-minute pre-Christmas buying frenzy. The longer I wandered around, pushing the last available shopping cart with its one wonky wheel, trying in vain to think of what to buy my holiday baby who really needs nothing after the orgy of giving 12 days earlier… I could feel the panic coming on. Then I started to feel feverish. I ended up calling Michael and having him walk me through what to buy, because I just couldn’t think.

Oh, and I bought the kids some really great compartmentalized lunch containers, not stopping to consider if they fit in their lunch bags. (They don’t.)

Finally made it to the checkout line, and that’s when I lost my will to live. I stood in that line, no word of a lie, for FORTY FUCKING MINUTES. The woman behind me kept bumping me with her cart while muttering about the line not moving. Mountains rose and fell. Continents drifted. The Spice Girls kept singing. The only person in the whole store I felt sorrier for than myself was whoever was standing by the jewelry counter, because this announcement blared over the store P.A. system every two minutes or so:

“Would the supervisor with the key to the jewelry case please call 212? Supervisor with the key to the jewelry case call 212.”

If I needed to buy a piece of made-in-China jewelry so badly that I tolerated standing next to a locked case for 40 minutes, well. I cannot even.

Anyway, by the time I got home I was D-O-N-E. Suffice it to say I am not going shopping again for anything for at least a couple of weeks. And this is a reminder to myself to do George’s birthday shopping before the holidays, not after.

After all, it’s hard to start the new year on a positive note when you’re fantasizing about living in a cave on a mountainous peak.



  1. Hope that you had a peaceful and relaxing day today! I would like to encourage you to shop at Target. There is no music playing in the store. There are no super obnoxious pages flying overhead. And of the of the best parts is that you see people shopping who have planned to go shopping instead of seeing people who couldn’t decided if they should go to bed (in pjs) or go shopping. Right now Target is having a huge clearance on toys and I’ve picked up loads of gifts for all the parties that the kids will be going to for the next 5 months (all under $10/gift, including hot wheels tracks!) If you need more reasons to shop at Target let me know. I’ve many more!

    • Here’s the thing – I *want* to like Target. I keep trying! But there have been one too many times where I’ve gone to Target looking for a specific thing and found just empty shelves.

      It’s actually infuriating, because you’re right about everything else – it’s quiet, people are generally polite, etc etc. I still hold out hope that they might turn it around…

  2. Wait hang on George can’t be THREE already!!! I remember him being born! How can this beeeeee?

    Here is hoping that your word for 2015 turns out to be “contented”. I don’t think January is ever a good time for a new start, to be honest. I read something today that suggested using the spring Equinox as a starting point for resolutions and so forth, because it’s so much closer to good weather and sunny days than January.

    • THREE ON TUESDAY. I know. I keep staring at him and humming “Landslide” to myself.

      And I like this notion about contentment, and also using the spring Equinox. I don’t do New Year’s resolutions anymore, anyway – but honestly my social media landscape is full of people making bold vows to always be kind. I go back and look, and they made the same vows last year. :p I think it’s great to strive for kindness, but I also don’t think it’s possible all the time.

      Contentment, though – I like that. It’s a hard level to reach but once you do, you stay there for a while. This is making me think, so thank you!

  3. “I’ll try being nicer when my fellow humans try being smarter, is what I’m saying.”

    I love that.

    Wal-Mart could make anyone hate their fellow humans.

    • If I hadn’t been feeling so crummy, I’d have tackled the drive across the harbour to Toys-R-Us. I figured the Wal-Mart next to the grocery store would be quicker.


  4. People who bump the back of your legs with their shopping carts are the passive aggressive subtweeters of the store lineup world. THEY ARE THE WORST. But goddamn, why forty minutes of a lineup? How is that even possible? Seriously. How. HOWWWW. And there is jewelry that requires lock and key? Thus seems unbearably sad to me for some reason. I do not know why. It’s like…ordering a cubic zirconium gift from the Sears catalogue. Although I used to buy my grandma cubic zirconium brooches in the shape of animals, etc., from Zellers…OMG THAT IS WHY. Because I miss Grandma. This is like my own personal therapy/ self discovery journey. Like s cleanse and detox for the soul, THE SOUL, HANNAH.

    • YES YOU ARE MY SOUL SISTER. Unbearably sad to think what could possibly be locked in the jewelry case at Wal-Mart. And the line was forty minutes partly because people were buying all the things, and partly because a man at the front of the line was teaching his young daughter how to use the debit machine. Oh so sweet how lovely it’s good that he’s preparing her for real life PICK ANOTHER STORE AT ANOTHER TIME MAN, FOR FUCK’S SAKE, THERE ARE ONE MILLION PEOPLE BEHIND YOU.

  5. I feel lucky. Our Target always has full shelves and no lines, although dismal selection.

    PH decided he wanted a new phone on new year’s day. That was a long wait, but still not as long as yours.

    • There are never lines at Target. There is never anyone at Target because the shelves are always empty. It’s depressing and discouraging, because I want to shop there, but I always end up at goddamn Wal-Mart anyway because whatever thing I was looking for at Target was out of stock.

      • Sounds like their stocking manager sucks!

        • It seems to be very store-specific. I’ve heard the same complaint from other people about different locations across the country.

          • Shelves are always full at ours…

  6. Well standing in line for 40 minutes at WalMart with 90s music blaring sounds about as close to hell right here on earth as anything I’d care to imagine. The horror.

    This was the Christmas Oldest aged out of Legos. I’ve seen it coming over the course of this first year in middle school and I thought I’d be thrilled: no more attempting to jam 100 boxes into the recycling; no floor covered in Lego pieces, small plastic bags, and instruction manuals; no insurmountable living room clean up. Instead I was sad. Landslide indeed.

    Youngest attempted to make up for it by receiving 1 million (approx) tiny Hello Kitty/Frozen/My Little Pony plastic toys and accessories. So living room was still a hazardous wreck of plastic, but my heart was still a little sad.

    • I *thought* this was going to be the Christmas that Harry aged out of Legos, because he doesn’t seem all that interested in them anymore. We got him one smallish Lego kit. He built it, loved it, and was sad that he only got one set. So… I don’t know. But I can see ahead to a year when all they want is expensive clothes and gadgets, and it is a little wistful even though I also will not miss the Christmas morning recycleathon because GOD. I just want a trash barrel to burn it all in like my parents used to do.

  7. Can I live in your next-door cave?

    I couldn’t help but laugh. I was at WM last night after meeting with a friend and then going to tractor supply for three 50lb bags of grain/feed. I reminded myself to never go there without my teenaged son again because they did not help me at all. Oh my aching shoulder.
    Then, at WM the crazies were out. The weather man said we might get near zero and the frenzy was on. I helped direct several people to items they couldn’t locate. I don’t know why I can’t mind my own business. Apparently I am one of the crazies myself. Thankfully the two returns I had went smoothly.
    When it came time to check out there was ONE line (out of like 20) open. I couldn’t help myself, I said what I was thinking out loud, very loudly. SURELY THIS IS A JOKE!! They opened two more lines.
    Having a birthday to celevrate the day after Christmas, I’ve learned to buy before as well. That is a good plan for next year. Feel better!

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