Shopping: Necessity or Pastime?


When I was growing up in the Heartland, Bible Belt, Midwest, Upper Mississippi River Basin, the state of Iowa, shopping was a necessity.

My mother would venture into the nearest town, Mt. Pleasant, for her bi-weekly marketing/shopping spree. Well, it wasn’t exactly a spree…more like a survival run.

We had our own milk, eggs, and meat, but she did need to purchase essentials like flour, sugar, fly strips, Oxydol or Fab, her choice of laundry detergents, Mum deodorant, Ivory hand soap and flakes, and perhaps a splurge like lipstick or bobby pins.

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Anyway that was the extent of her spree.

Oh yes, and every fall we would shop for our school clothes— Dan River dresses for me, overalls for my brother, and maybe a new pair of shoes for each of us.

Oh, I almost forgot, those lovely black rubber buckle overshoes/chore boots. I could have done without those. None of my town friends had them. No, they got the fur-lined cute ones.

What I’m getting at is…shopping was not a daily hobby or outing like it is today.

Recently a friend and I were shopping, mostly for things we wanted not needed.  While we walked, and window shopped, we had a conversation about shopping.

Both our moms have passed away— her mother recently and mine a year ago. I told her I couldn’t remember my mom just taking a day for herself, and spending it just shopping.

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For one thing, my mother didn’t have the time or the finances to buy luxury items. My dad would have thought she’d completely lost her mind if she’d even suggested such a thing. It was only in her later years she enjoyed a day out with her daughters or friends just leisurely shopping for nothing particular. And having a wonderful lunch at one of the million restaurants, Bistro’s, Pizza Parlors, Steak Houses, Buffets of every nationality on the planet that we now have…whew!

“Did you know they have stores devoted entirely to jewelry, shoes, makeup and kitchen utensils?” She’d say.

She really didn’t get the pet stores, and Sam’s was completely overwhelming.

Although I’ll have to admit, HUMONGOUS outlets are more like the old time General Stores of yesteryear. Everything under one roof!

I have to ask, am I purchasing out of want or need?

I am happy that mom and I got to do some frivolous shopping and lunching before she left.

It wasn’t about the shopping anyway; it was being together with nothing to do, but laugh and enjoy each other’s company.


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