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One Day Before Christmas

I'm happy to report that our Shopper returned this year.

She is about 65-70 years old. She is small and she has one of those wonderfully open faces that just shines with a love for people. All of her wrinkles are the result of smiling.

She comes in the store the day before Christmas with a piece of yellow legal pad paper. It is neatly printed with a list of names of the people she is buying for, and the names of a couple of book ideas next to each one. She picks up a shopping basket and zeros in on one of our booksellers. She has the knack of picking one who is new to the store and doesn't know about her yet.

The bookseller spends a good half-hour to forty-five minutes helping her shop her list. She tells sweet stories about each person on the list and the bookseller really gets caught up in the woman's pleasure of shopping for her special people.

Then, she asks the bookseller to take the basket up to the cash line for her while she browses a bit for herself.

An hour later, the bookseller asks a cashier if she has seen the woman. No one has, of course, and the basket is still waiting to be claimed.

There is a lot of speculation about her. Is she mentally disburbed and living in a make believe world peopled with all those names she is buying for?

Is she an addictive shopper who can't afford to buy, but gets her fix by shopping?

Does she have some melancholy back story that involves the tragic loss of her family?

We can't agree, but we do agree that it makes her very happy to shop with us on Christmas Eve. We understand that we need to help her play out this ritual. She doesn't want to be challenged into our reality. She needs to be treated like any other customer. That's why we never warn the new people about her.

Another thing we all agree on, we're humbled and honored that she has chosen our store.

We've named her "Mary". I hope she comes back every year!

Comments (11)

Deborah-What an interesting story. I think it is wonderful you treat her so well, even though she comes in every year. That wouldn't happen in too many retail stores. I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas!

You may be more right than you know, calling her Mary!

Angels come in all sizes and shapes...she just might be one!

What a generous heart you have to give her what she needs while shopping for her family and friends. You may be all the company that she has on Christmas Eve...you just don't know, do you?
Wishing you the most loving and joyful Christmas of all, Deborah!

Thanks for sharing this fascinating story. I bet you're looking froward to some R and R!

Have a wonderful Christmas - all the best in 2009!


I wonder whether there is another blog somewhere today where the blogger tells how she makes her annual trip to a busy Barnes & Noble for the sole purpose of taking a new bookseller away from the frantic shoppers for a few minutes by telling him/her the sweet stories about imaginary people (or perhaps they aren't imaginary).

Whatever the reality it is a lovely story - thank you for sharing.

I think you got her name right, but the spelling is wrong - I think she's "Merry"!

Interesting story. I think it is nice that everyone lets her continue to do this yearly, whatever her story is. It seems to mean a lot to her and that is special.

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Deborah, thanks for sharing this beautiful story. You really have such a kind heart. And I hope "Mary" had a wonderful Christmas too. I'm sure stopping into your store made it so...

Happy Holidays to you and your family.

That is a great story. And so much better to help her on Christmas Eve than a cranky frantic shopper.

Oh Deborah, I can't tell you how much this story warms my heart. What a perfect holiday story! I have a soft spot for crazy cat ladies, bag ladies, and now...book ladies. Bless her and bless you all for allowing her to tell her stories on Xmas Eve. Just perfect.


Great story, and I love your new header photo too.


I adore how respectful you all are with her, and enjoy her enjoyment. I hope she appears for many more years!

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