And you should have SEEN the Wal-Mart shoppers! You should have SEEN the mess in the store and the things in their carts! They were out of many, many things (including big boxes of Cheerios). The shelves in the grocery aisles were looking pathetic and bare. I didn’t know it was possible for Wal-Mart, great behemoth and dominator of the known universe, COULD be out of things!

After wading through the melee, pushing my sister-in-law’s cart of groceries, I did what any self-respecting bibliophile would do and went to hide in the book aisle (which was less chaotic than the rest of the place) when she and MIL headed for the Easter aisles.

Easter aisles? Not a cross in sight. Not a sign of what we’re celebrating. Just stuffed bunnies and pink chicks, plastic eggs and silly trinkets, candy and gift packs. Only bright red CLEARANCE signs and the feeling of “last chance” lingering in the air above.

Why did I go? Well, I’m the person who grew up chasing the truck down the driveway so I could go to Napa too. I’m the one who usually goes along to Auto Zone, even if it means dragging the Small Fry along. I always go. Every time. Even though I hate to shop. (And, in this case, even though I hate Wal-Mart.) Must be that ingrained need for company.

As we stood in line for five hours (OK, it was ten or fifteen minutes, but it FELT like five hours), and I surveyed the attitudes of my fellow shoppers, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for those cashiers. The lady in front of us put all of her cards in her gift bags, but the cashier told us she’d seen that before, and the lady ended up paying for them. You’d have thought it was the Christmas shopping season, all those frowns. You would have thought, as hard as they were working at the registers, that they could look forward to holiday at home with their families, but I suspect they will be back working today, because if stores can start opening on Christmas (which EVERYONE recognizes as a holiday), then Easter isn’t safe.

And yet, amid the misery that was Wal-Mart, I couldn’t help but think of the kids waiting at home. Earlier in the day, Younger Sister had told Small Fry, in a sing song chant that had SF jumping up and down, “The Easter Bunny is coming tonight!” Then Older Sister took Small Fry by the hand and said, “But Babby, TOMORROW is the day Jesus rises from the dead!” To which my darling daughter replied, “YAY!”

And isn’t THAT what it’s all about, no matter what the experiences at Wal-Mart and out in the world tell us?