Isn’t it fun how, if you live in a small town, just about anything constitutes an “errand” when you’re in the city? Like, “going to the mall” is part of your errand list even though you are headed to fun Sephora to get some new foundation (and eyeshadow and festive nail polish). “Going to The Summit” means you are either shopping or eating and maybe stopping at Whole Foods, which, I’ll grant you, is errand-like, except of course you have to treat yourself to a cookie because the cookies are so good there and maybe you’ll have a slice of pizza there too because aren’t you allowed to eat when you’re so busy running errands?

Anyway, I was in Lexington last week and on my errand list was stopping at Tuesday Morning. Ostensibly, it was so I could pick up some dishrags, but really, I was going to look at nutcrackers. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, it’s “bring on the Christmas” at the Baker/Kaprowy house already and that means I’m out shopping for decorations.

I have a lovely relationship with Tuesday Morning. We used to have one here in Somerset and I would visit every December and buy a Steinbach nutcracker for a price that was so marked down that I felt both very proud and embarrassed to bring it up to the register. But the guy who used to run the Tuesday Morning show here in Somerset was a hoot and he always ooed and ahhed over my find even though he knew (and I knew) that German nutcrackers are, really, pretty ridiculous because they can’t actually crack anything.

Still, I was always excited to bring it home and my stepdaughter Gabrielle was always happy to christen the new acquisition with a playful, festive name.

This year, when I went to Tuesday Morning, there was already a customer parked in front of the nutcrackers. They don’t often have a big selection (although somehow, every year, they do sell them) but they do occupy at least one shelf. Well, this woman, she looked like she was ready to spread out a picnic and have herself a lovely afternoon parked in that exact spot, so I despaired a little until I realized I was actually there to get dishrags.

After picking up a few packs of those (whew, that’s a $6.99 that is hard to spend, am I right?), I floated past the nutcracker section again. By this point, the woman had noticed I was nosing around. But rather than politely move on, she hunkered down, indicating she wasn’t done, no one was going to rush her, and she was definitely not “running” an errand.

No problem, I thought, I’ll just pretend I am interested in this random Christmas pottery made in Poland.

In fact, I had become nearly desperately interested in one particular nutcracker they had on display. It was a grizzled doctor wearing a head mirror and a white coat with a wooden tongue depressor in his front pocket. In one hand, he was holding a journal —“Caduceus News” it was called — showcasing an article about Covid-19, in the other he was carrying a syringe, presumably filled with vaccine. I couldn’t imagine a better symbol of 2021.

They had exactly one of these guys for sale.

I wanted him so badly I got a little out of breath.

But our lovely picnicker was not budging, boy, and I tried to think of ways I might distract her. I also tried to think of ways I would be OK with it if she selected (stole) Dr. Christmas. But finally, she made her choice. She picked up a beekeeper nutcracker (complete with pot of honey and veiled hat and whom, admittedly, she somewhat resembled), put it in her cart, and trundled on.

I swooped in, grabbed our good doctor and, feeling wildly victorious, made my way to checkout.

Listen, this is a little story with a ho-hum antagonist, a mini narrative peak, and a 44-year-old main character who is clearly getting tackier by the year. But I’ll tell you what, whoever tells you there isn’t drama in Christmas shopping isn’t doing it right.

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