I was out of deodorant and Emmy needed hair curlers. The “Twilight” phenomenon had pierced her psyche requiring her best approximation at transformation into everything Bella. The emulation of what Bella does, what she looks like, what she thinks are her secret and not so secret dreams. Emmy along with most thirteen-year-old girls and a few thirteen-year-old boys fantasizes about being the object of either Jacob's or Edward’s affection. The closer she could transform herself into the image of Bella, the bigger the chance the fantasy could become real. The curlers seemed a small price to pay and I view deodorant as an essential. This is what precipitated our trip to Walgreens Drugstore.
In previous Christmas seasons the trip to any near or distant Walgreens always provided a little smile as we perused the Christmas decorations aisle, winking at each other as we ran our fingers over the boxes of outdoor lights, specifically the ones with the pictures of our home in Andes. It was a thrill to walk into a Walgreens in New York City or Chattanooga, Tennessee and see our house pictured on rows of boxes of lights sporting so much holiday cheer.
Years ago, an Andes neighbor, who ran a PR firm in the city, but had a second home in Andes, approached us about using our house for a photo shoot for a holiday lighting company. They paid a location fee and as a bonus gave us the miles of lights they had used in dressing the exterior of the house. We were flattered they chose our house but we didn’t think much more about it until the following year when we were visiting Rick’s relatives in Georgia for Thanksgiving. I had forgotten to pack shaving cream. Rick’s sister, Sandra, directed me to the nearest drugstore, a Walgreens, a couple of blocks down the road. I got in the rental car and drove over to the Walgreens on what I thought would be a quick in and out for a can of Palmolive Sensitive Skin shaving cream. I was pretty focused on the task at hand when I entered the drugstore, keeping my eyes locked on the panels suspended from the ceiling with the information delineating what you would find in that particular aisle: cosmetics, skincare, depends, men’s products. I quickly found the aisle I needed. I mentally evaluated the selection of shaving cream alternatives, picked up what I needed and headed back to the cashier’s counter. Men’s products was stashed all the way in the back of the store and the cashier was stationed at the front. I had to traverse the entire store to get to where I could pay for the shaving cream and get back to Rick’s sister’s. With the shaving cream in hand I could now relax and scope out the rest of the discretionary merchandise I presumably didn’t need. Unconcerned about which way my journey to the front of the store would lead, I serendipitously took a turn up through the seasonal holiday products aisle and there is where I stopped in total awe. It was such an astonishing feeling of pride and comfort to see our home, a thousand miles removed, lighting up the aisles of a Walgreens drugstore. Discretionary became mandatory as I bought every version of the box they had. Every year since that first time in Chattanooga, we would make a pilgrimage to Walgreens to see if our home would still be gracing the outdoor holiday lighting aisle, and every year our pride would swell as our home continued to spread a little bit of luminescent holiday joy.
This year the feeling is very different. The house pictured on the front of all those boxes of holiday lights no longer belongs to us, but Walgreens still lines its holiday aisles with the same product wrapped in the same box with the picture of our former home. It’s an image hard for us to escape as they feature the lights in their local circulars as well as their in-store point-of-sale displays. The trip for deodorant and curlers is bittersweet. It’s a little reminder of what once was but is no more. Rick, Emmy and I all try to remember the long list of wonderful memories our home gave us at Christmas time, the friends who shared that time with us, the Christmas Eve present exchanges with family, the open houses for all our neighbors with miles of desserts and glasses full of champagne. So here’s a toast to all those good times and the gift it gave us that no one can take away. Let the new season begin. Happy Holidays to all.