Today is Christmas Eve. The weather is so warm here in north Georgia, it feels more like Spring than the day before Christmas.

Yesterday my son Ken called to take me to lunch at the Mall of Georgia. Eight year old Will had a little last minute shopping, looking for a Lego store. Ken and I had finished Christmas shopping, however, I was prepared to buy something if I saw anything I thought I couldn’t live without.

I live in an area where there are a number of shopping malls within a fifty mile radius. Outlet malls in Dawsonville to the west, and outlet stores in Commerce to the East. Plus the Gwinnett Mall, North Point Mall and Lenox Square to the South. II;’m not much of a mall shopper, but like the feel of regular brick and mortar stores, separate from malls.

We spent several hours at Mall of Georgia, beginning with a wonderful lunch at the Tin Lizzy restaurant. The food was wonderful in a pleasant atmosphere with great service. But on the way driving in, the traffic was bumper to bumper for miles, and it was very difficult to find a parking space once we arrived. I couldn’t help but wonder why so many are out shopping the day before Christmas Eve.

I was reminded of the famous quote by Senator Baker at the Watergate hearings, saying during the Hearings, “I’m consumed with curiosity.” However it was only after I returned home last evening, I figured out what was taking place. I recalled my growing up upon a farm in northeast Georgia near Commerce, and the times we went into town on Saturdays to shop and spend time people-watching. And on rare occasion, a carnival would come into town, and my parents would take us to see the sights and ride the Ferris wheel at the Carnival.

Yesterday after lunch, we entered the main entrance to the mall, and the food court, which was literally packed with wall to wall people. Just past that were long lines down the hallway, in line to go into the coffee shop for a cup of coffee. Walking down the broad hallway, venders lined the center, hawking their wares, of everything from skin care to makeup. Which reminded me of old-timey carnival vendors, yelling “Step right up folks!!!”

Then I saw the carousel ride and felt compelled to hop on one of the horses, so eight year old Will and I took a ride on the carousel, while Ken made pictures of us, going up and down.

As we proceeded down the very crowded hallway, there were all sorts of entertaining things to do. Prince Will gravitated to the bungi jumping concession and his dad signed him up for four four-minute jumps. I walked over to a bench and sat down by the man operating the toy train, which kids paid $4 to ride around the mall in. Several mothers sat with me and waited while the grandmothers rode the special train with the 3 and 4 year olds. When the train conductor parked after the ride, the youngsters were invited to pull the cord on the train whistle to toot-toot. And their little faces lit up.

All the store windows were filled with huge sale signs and a lot of customers were going in and out. Then I began observing the crowds in the hallways, and noticed very few carrying packages. We wandered further observing the hallway venders who stopped us to hawk their wares, before turning around to go back through the mall, and noticed the lines at the windows of concessions. We stopped stood in line for a glass of orange juice.

Food lines were everywhere, and lines for the kids rides. Many mothers pushing strollers filled with a child and a few packages were standing in line for something to eat or drink. Saw a few men, last minute shoppers carrying shopping bags. But mostly families with their children, in lines for rides and food.

Then it dawned on me, all those long lines of traffic flowing into the mall were not necessarily trying to get in the mall to shop, but to eat and entertainment. So deja vu for me, a reminder of years past going to the carnivals which came to town, back in the “olden days.” A real “aha” moment for me as I observed it all, like watching a live movie.

Unlike a lot of folks who love shopping, when I shop, I try to finish as quickly as possible. It was a new revelation for me, when I realized for many, going shopping did not necessarily mean they were going to the malls to buy things but to eat and for entertainment.Then coming home, watching the news showing crowds in malls, and reports that total store sales were much lower than last year.

Thinking to myself, they probably don’t take food stamps at shopping malls food concessions, nor at the rides concessions. Realizing, my son, grandson and I were there for the same reasons, to eat, window shop, and enjoy watching all the carnival-like holiday spirit of children and grownups alike, stopping occasionally along the way to ride something.

The old time-worn selling technique crossed my mind, ie, “One does not sell the steak but the sizzle.” And in this modern day era of large elaborate malls, the crowds are drawn in by the sizzle of food and entertainment of various sorts of rides. Apparently most of the sales taking place just after Thanksgiving, and cyber net Monday, because very few were carrying shopping bags as I observed yesterday, despite huge crowds.

According to the news, this year internet sales have soared, and I too enjoy sitting in the comfort of my home and shopping on the net and having the merchandise delivered to my front door. Now the latest news is anticipated delivery by robots next year!!

I’ll be ninety years old on my next birthday, and I daresay it’s been an interesting journey observing the changing times, then realizing the things which have not really changed. In a previous article I wrote, “All the world loves two things, a winner and a parade.” After yesterday at the mall, I can add to that, many still love a carnival atmosphere, which is what I felt at the Mall of Georgia and observed in others. And quite frankly, I had a great time, particularly being privileged to have an eight year old grandson along, despite the fact he did not find a Lego store, he enjoyed the food and the rides.

After leaving the mall, we went to Sam’s store in Oakwood and bought groceries. What a wonderful country we live in!!!

Hope everyone has a Blessed Christmas day tomorrow!!!



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