Went shopping with my wife the other day, certainly something I don’t relish any time of year. But as we strolled along the mall a certain emptiness hit me one I don’t feel we will ever recover. I fight the urge to be that old curmudgeon, you know “these kids today and damn technology” but I couldn’t help but travel back to my loving Christmas Shopping. The family would load up in the car and head to downtown Des Moines. Dad would let loose with his annual Christmas tirade of expletives in search of the best parking spot in the city, oddly, not only did he find that spot but his holiday spirit was there too. We would all get out and stroll the streets passing by the major Department Stores and their magical moving displays having our own vote on which was best. With any luck sometimes a light snow would be falling and create a glistening backdrop. We would continue our stroll until we reached the obviously most important destination, SANTA CLAUS! The only problem was which one? I preferred the jolly old soul at Younkers while my little brother Dave thought the one at the Utica looked more forgiving of the Naughty or Nice list. Up we would go as mom and dad cocked an ear trying to here our private conversation not realizing we had stepped it up a few decibels to make sure they didn’t miss a thing. After all was said and done it was back to the car, except dad could never remember where he parked it and refused to believe anyone who did. After a few extra blocks of strolling we were on our way home, all of us, a family that shared a night with no distractions, one of togetherness, wishes and conversations I will never forget.