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Lois Farmer, an AAFES employee, arranges discounted Christmas 2007 bears Wednesday at the Wiesbaden, Germany, PX. AAFES continues to offer Christmas-specific items at slashed prices after the holiday surge.
Lois Farmer, an AAFES employee, arranges discounted Christmas 2007 bears Wednesday at the Wiesbaden, Germany, PX. AAFES continues to offer Christmas-specific items at slashed prices after the holiday surge. (Ben Bloker / S&S)
Lois Farmer, an AAFES employee, arranges discounted Christmas 2007 bears Wednesday at the Wiesbaden, Germany, PX. AAFES continues to offer Christmas-specific items at slashed prices after the holiday surge.
Lois Farmer, an AAFES employee, arranges discounted Christmas 2007 bears Wednesday at the Wiesbaden, Germany, PX. AAFES continues to offer Christmas-specific items at slashed prices after the holiday surge. (Ben Bloker / S&S)
Angelika Peden says she’s looking for good deals during a post-Christmas shopping trip at the Wiesbaden, Germany, PX on Wednesday.
Angelika Peden says she’s looking for good deals during a post-Christmas shopping trip at the Wiesbaden, Germany, PX on Wednesday. (Ben Bloker / S&S)
Paula Dorrell, left, and Jennifer Barry check out the aroma of a candle during a post-Christmas shopping trip at the Wiesbaden, Germany, PX on Wednesday.
Paula Dorrell, left, and Jennifer Barry check out the aroma of a candle during a post-Christmas shopping trip at the Wiesbaden, Germany, PX on Wednesday. (Ben Bloker / S&S)

WIESBADEN, Germany — Like most shoppers who ventured out Wednesday, Paula Dorrell was looking for post-holiday bargains.

She found a few good deals on Christmas cards and wrapping paper at the post exchange in Wiesbaden. But Dorrell, whose husband is deployed, also discovered something much more profound.

As she checked out the sales with the wife of another deployed soldier, she reflected on her first Christmas away from her husband of 31 years.

“To me, it’s been special to realize that I can do this by myself,” said Dorrell, who decorated her house for the holidays, trimmed a tree and even waited until Christmas morning to open gifts.

“I found joy on the inside, and that’s what I’m celebrating. That’s my faith,” she said. “It’s a little sad, but you have to make the best of it.”

While going to church and spending time with friends also helped cheer her up, getting in a little retail therapy at the PX didn’t hurt either, she said.

“Shopping’s always pretty fun,” Dorrell said. “But I probably wouldn’t have bought any of this stuff if I would have stayed home.”

While stateside retail outlets bustled Wednesday with throngs of bargain hunters seeking good deals, exchanges throughout Europe were relatively calm.

“What you see in the States is stores trying to reduce their inventory to make room for new stuff,” said Lt. Col. David Konop, spokesman for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. “If we’ve done what we’re supposed to do, we’re not going to have a lot of overstock inventory to have to get rid of.”

Although the post-Christmas deals at the exchanges paled in comparison to the day-after-Thanksgiving sales extravaganza, some shoppers were able to find worthwhile discounts.

Wiesbaden residents Kristine Ballesta and her future brother-in-law, Rudolph Rodolfo, stocked up on chocolates and boxed cologne gift sets for relatives in the Philippines they plan to visit soon.

“We got some pretty good deals,” Ballesta said.

Others were less than impressed.

At the Navy Exchange in Naples, Italy, “there was a lot of stuff on sale, but the prices didn’t seem that great,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Kathy Knight, who works at the Naval Support Activity Souda Bay Security Department.

Nikesha Jackson, a civilian employee with U.S. Africa Command, bought supplies at the Stuttgart, Germany, PX but said she turns to the Internet for the best deals.

“I would probably go shopping online,” she said, “because they have the sales.”

Stripes reporters Lisa M. Novak and Charlie Coon contributed to this story.

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