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OPINION | LET'S TALK: On skirting the holiday shortages

by Helaine Williams | October 24, 2021 at 2:15 a.m.

Whew. My June 6 "Deficiency Day" column regarding the various shortages America has undergone didn't tell the half.

The list of shortages has only grown, according to reports such as that at

"Consumers urged to buy now, holiday later, amid shortages," an Oct. 7 piece by Rachel Layne, outlines the multiple causes of the multiple shortages: supply-chain bottlenecks, shipping delays, a shortage of drivers and workers. These have led to empty shelves. Higher prices. Fewer discounts. Stuff costing more than a dollar at Dollar Tree, according to the story ... a bigtime pearl-clutcher for DT fans like myself, who stopped shopping anywhere else for bar soap.

Various images of loaded cargo ships out at sea, unable to unload, have dominated the news. And the shortage has been predicted to drag on for another year by some outlets, although the MSN story cites early 2022.

Shortages include clothing and shoes ... no surprise there. Thanksgiving celebrants have been warned of a turkey shortage. There's a shortage of books. And gosh, even a shortage of Christmas trees, real and artificial.

"If shoppers run up against shortages, many will likely shift to other options like gift cards, even if recipients might need to wait until the New Year to redeem them," John Mercer, Coresight Research's head of global research, was quoted.

Another story blamed the pandemic for a coin shortage that has caused some retail chains to require customers to pay with exact change or pay with cards. (Hubby and I were greeted a recent Sunday afternoon with "pay by card only" signs, citing the shortage, at the grocery store self checkout ... an afternoon that also offered us the joys of music-festival-size crowds and a long wait for a self-checkout machine that, yes, went screwy on us).

What is one to do in the midst of a shortage of just about everything? The common media message: Better gather the stuff for your holiday decorations, gifts, dinners, etc. early. Especially since, atop everything else, the Postal Service will now be slower and more expensive.

But there are alternatives.

Here, submitted for your approval, is a list, a mix of serious and well, not so serious ...


◼️ Missed getting a costume for that Halloween party next weekend? No. 1: Go as someone on one side or the other of the covid mask/vaccine debate — as said debate has, since the pandemic began, resulted in actions that would send Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, Annabelle, Jigsaw, Ghostface, Leatherface, Candyman, Chucky and Pennywise running for cover. No. 2: Go as a loaded cargo ship, making yourself a two-sided cardboard sign with images. For added effect, wander aimlessly around the host's yard.

◼️ Be your own Poshmark and encourage friends and neighbors to do the same. Have secondhand sales and swap meets among yourselves. One gal's used-for-a-decade decorations may be another gal's treasure!

◼️ Instead of relying on matching Christmas pajamas that may not arrive in time for that family photo, do a Christmas Zoom outfit family photo in the mismatched coordinates in which you guys attended all those Zoom meetings.

◼️ Remember that "roast beast" mentioned in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"? Time to find out what the heck "roast beast" is. It just may be in plentiful supply.

◼️ Want to send holiday greetings? Get back to basics and beat the Post Office delays at

◼️ Make all holiday activities virtual. Virtual as in not just getting together on Zoom, but making decorating virtual, dinner virtual, gifts virtual.

◼️ Yes, get your loved ones gift cards — or good-deed IOUs — for Christmas. Better yet ... it's a great time for regifting some of those very things of which shortages have been announced. (I wonder whether there's a shortage of ugly sweaters from well-meaning aunts and grandmothers?)

◼️ Be like the Talkmistress and get yourself and your family to start clean intermittent fasting with a short eating window. You may just find that holiday dinner needs only to consist of a few mixed nuts, a couple of deviled eggs made from that carton that's been sitting in the fridge for a while, and cheap wine.

◼️ Do emphasize the reasons for the seasons. Enjoy the things there have been no shortages of: Love! Togetherness! Camaraderie! Family fights!

◼️ To heck with ordering a New Year's Eve outfit that may not arrive. Make a top hat, sash and diaper and go dressed as the New Year's baby.

◼️ If you're in Central Arkansas, just postpone the holiday celebrations — during the holidays, that is. Celebrate by going to see "Hamilton" in February.

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