Shopping with Ruby


Shopping with Ruby
by Rick Watson

Standing in the checkout line with Jilda at Tractor Supply last week I learned something about myself I’d never realized. As we waited our turn, she held up last-minute gift ideas for kids. After holding up two or three stuffed animals and getting the same blank look from me, she said, “I miss my mom because she was FUN to shop with.”

The round dented the shopping armor I routinely wear during the Christmas season.

“I’m no fun to shop with?” I said in a hurt tone, with a little bit of a dejected curl on my bottom lip. “Please! You should just give me all the credit cards and go sit in the car.”

The man standing behind us got a good chuckle out of that. I glanced back at him with my best “We husbands must stick together look” and he just grinned and shrugged his shoulders. Wife -1 the Rickster - 0.

As we were leaving, Jilda said we need to run by Hobby Lobby. I said loud enough for the gentleman
behind me to hear, “I’ll go, but I won’t be any fun.” The guy snorted with laughter and the cashier joined in the merriment.

After we bought all the gifts we’d come to buy, we headed out to get some lunch and I thought back at all those years I had to work and Jilda went Christmas shopping with her mom.

They spent days going to every store in the area in search of the perfect gifts for every child, grandchild, and great-grandchild. They’d walk down aisles holding up tiny dresses, fire trucks, puzzles, and books. Each item was evaluated to make sure it was the perfect gift.

Every trip included lunch where they sat in booths glowing, absorbing the ambiance of Christmas.

When I got home on those evenings, every surface in our spare bedroom would be covered with gifts. Jilda would start at one end, unbox and hold up every gift and describe who it was for and why it wound up in the Christmas buggy.

She would not only tell me everywhere they went but who all they saw along the way and what they had for lunch. I could close my eyes and smell the warm cinnamon rolls and the aroma of the coffee they had for dessert.

This was a routine repeated every year. The first few times I only listened to the recap out of a sense of Christmas duty. But as the years passed, it became clear how much Jilda loved shopping with her mom.

They always had fun. And hearing her give the play by play became something I enjoyed too.

After our shopping trip last week, we ran by the cemetery to put Christmas holly on the graves of our parents. I stood nearby as Jilda knelt by her mom’s grave and tied a Christmas ribbon around the arrangement. I wish Ruby had been there with us Christmas shopping. And then as I remembered the gentleman laughing with us in the line at Tractor Supply, I’d like to think Ruby was laughing along with us.

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