Last week, my husband purchased a patio set and a firepit thing for our backyard. He got them on sale, and, for his purchases, he earned $80 credit at the store, and for my Mother's Day present, I got the $80. The catch was that the $80 needed to be spent before this Sunday, and since we're heading to the Bug Fair tomorrow morning, and since the beginning of the week was focused on grading papers and planning for the Boy's b-day party*, I had to do the shopping after work today.
As I have said here and elsewhere, I don't shop very often (for anything other than food or books), so this $80 led to an interesting experience (because the store had no food or books).
Usually, when I spend money, it's involves feeling as if I shouldn't buy something that I want. However, tonight, when I went to the store, I didn't know what I wanted, but I had to spend $80, and I had to spend it today (which is very different from a typical gift certificate situation). I went to the store without a clear plan, and it was at the end of what has been a very busy seven days, so I had to quickly shift gears and get into the shopping spirit. It was like I had stepped into a game show challenge.
The challenge was harder than it might seem. In fact, I wandered a bit aimlessly around the store, visiting the Home section, the Shoe section, the Accessories section, the Bra section, the Kids section, and on and on. And then I would revisit a section. And then I would go back to another section. I spent a lot of time looking at shower curtains and towels and table cloths, but nothing was quite right. I found a bowl that I loved, but it was big, and I didn't know where I'd put it. I started to go into the kitchen and small appliances section, but I got a little overwhelmed (because it was getting late), so I backed out and went back to the clothing section, which was also overwhelming. I didn't see any clothes that seemed as if they'd suit me, except for some basic crew neck T-shirts. The people working there began to look at me as if I were crazy because I kept retracing my steps, and I'm sure I looked downright lost.
I should probably mention that I had never been in the store before, so I really had no idea what I was doing. And it was at the end of a long day and I felt like I should hurry. But even hurrying, the whole process still took about 90 minutes.
So I ended up buying the T-shirts, some candles, some scent oil for the bathroom, sandals for my daughter, a bra, and two decorative pillows.
It seems like a very paltry list of trivial little things that don't amount to much. But, in the end, they are the kinds of things--especially the candles and pillows--that I usually don't feel comfortable spending money on even though they make me cheerful. So instead of looking at my purchases as a feeble shopping run, I'm trying to think of the items as a little bit of complimentary cheer. But it does seem like a sad little pile of random stuff.
I realize now that what I should have done--before going to the store--was put out a request for expert suggestions, from those who know the store, about how to approach this task. I should have had a plan.
For now, I'm going to fluff the decorative pillows, put a new candle in the bathroom, and go to bed so that I can read my book and get some rest for the Bug Fair.
Hmm. I think I should have gotten the pretty bowl.
*I think the party went well! More on that later . . .