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Like many of you, I have found that no time in our home is crazier than the holiday season. There is always one more thing to be done, just as I finish my latest task.

I wrap gifts and then forget who they were for in the first place, then unwrap them and feel guilty for being a paper- wasting tree killer as I look at the crumpled up mess I made.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. My wrapping days are still a couple of weeks away.

Right now, I’m enjoying my favorite part of the holiday season, which is simply having an excuse to shop. I love buying gifts for the people and dog in my life, and it’s a little bonus if I happen to come across something for myself, too.

During my after-Thanksgiving shopping spree, I picked up a really warm and comfy pair of gloves, and boy, they were cheap! It was a bargain that had “Pam” written all over it.

While waiting in line, I noticed each glove had a doggie on the back of it. “How cute!” I said to my niece, Nicole. “Ronnie will love it when I wear these.”

The next morning, I took a closer look at my bargain gloves and realized there was writing on the fingers that said UConn Huskies. Well, that certainly explained the doggies!

Yesterday, I realized many people are going around in a Pam state of mind this time of year. It hit me as I made my way through the one store I frequent most, the Fort Belvoir commissary.

My first impulse buy occurred seconds after I flashed my I.D. card at the store’s entrance. I picked up an already-in-the-pan graham cracker pie crust (Lazy me, don’t tell my mom!), thinking how much Jimmy, Tommy and Ronnie enjoy my Whippy Pies.

If you are interested in making your own Whippy Pie, pick up a box of Dream Whip and follow the Dream Pie recipe.

Ron must have been especially nice to me that morning because I bought the yellow potato salad at the deli instead of the white kind I prefer. That’s when I almost put Ron’s potato salad in someone else’s cart.

It’s a mistake I make all the time, and usually catch myself immediately.

On the rare occasion that I continue to pile groceries into someone else’s cart or begin pushing it down the aisle, the other shopper inevitably comes along to point out my mistake.

Once I spotted my own cart nearby, I nestled the potato salad next to two tubes of toothpaste, skipped the bananas aisle and headed straight to the vegetables.

When I finished shopping and reached the checkout, I became aware that something was amiss in my grocery cart. What clued me in was the big bottle of homeopathic medicine to relieve aching joints.

“Hmmm. That’s not mine,” I mumbled, and took it out of my cart. Then I started looking for any other items that didn’t belong. Luckily, the only extra thing that came home with me was a bunch of bananas.

Ron’s potato salad, the pie crust and two tubes of toothpaste never made it to the checkout aisle, however.

Of course, I was frustrated with myself for the goof-up, but I couldn’t help laughing out loud as I put away the groceries. Glory reacted the same way she always does when I act weirder than usual; she backed slowly away from me and hid in the corner.

If you find yourself doing Pamlike things in the weeks to come, don’t panic. It’s just the hustle and bustle of the holiday season getting to you.

By January, you’ll be back to your normal self, and I’ll still be sharing stories of what it’s like to live this way 365 days a year.

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has moved eight times in 17 years of marriage to her Marine Corps husband. They have been stationed in various locations, including Okinawa, California, Texas and their current home in Springfield, Va. E-mail her at or find the Zichs online at


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