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SisterSchmooze: Shopping Spree

Marcia Stark Meth, Emmy Stark Zitter, and Miriam Stark Zakon

Marcia went shopping for comfort, Emmy went shopping for the perfect dress, and Miriam went shopping for the leader of the Free World.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016



Shopping… Some call it a frivolous pastime. Some call it materialistic. I call it an expression of love. Or a sanity-preserving lifeline. I seldom take a lunch hour, since I’m usually busy at work. But every once in a while, when the stress level reaches epic proportions, I find myself magically transported to the mall down the block from my office. It’s shopping therapy. I might be spending money, but it’s still cheaper than paying a shrink to talk about job stress. Plus, I come away with a new dress or a pair of shoes.


After work, there’s food shopping — another form of therapy. There’s nothing more relaxing than pushing a shopping cart down a supermarket’s aisles — especially at midnight, without the crowds — soothed by soft background music, swaddled by fresh, canned, boxed, or frozen varieties of comfort food.

The greatest therapeutic benefits come from shopping for others. Like when my kids were younger and I did conference planning — about four business trips a year. No matter which city, after the day’s events, I’d gravitate toward the nearest mall or marketplace to find tchotchkes for my children. I’d spend hours happily matching the right souvenir (my mother called them “shmuntzes”) for each kid. A Davy Crockett “coonskin” cap from San Antonio’s Alamo. A Red Sox T-shirt from Boston’s Faneuil Hall Marketplace. A Jacob’s ladder (with ribbon-laced, flip-flopping wooden squares) from Seattle’s Pike Place Market. A Hawaiian muumuu dress from Waikiki’s International Market.

I once even schlepped a three-foot-tall knight in shining armor on a plane. (Remember when airlines allowed that kind of thing?) For years, it served as mascot for my son’s basketball team — The Yeshivah Knights.

As I’d walk the aisles of any store or pause at a stall in an open market, sifting through scarves, necklaces, hair bows, and T-shirts, I’d feel tangibly connected with my kids. And when I came home with the trinkets, my children knew I’d been thinking of them, missing them, and loving them every moment I was away.

And then there were the times I shopped for my mother.

When I was 18, on my first trip to Israel, I bought her a necklace at the Eilat Jewelry Factory. Its pendant was a purple alexandrite stone surrounded by intricately hand-woven gold filigree. She treasured that necklace — she called it her “talisman” (pronounced tahl-eez-mahn in Czech-accented English) — and wore it every day for the rest of her life.

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