Christmas interior tree with gifts near window at home

Toilet paper. Where art thou? You have been missing from the store shelves, and we are becoming worried. Oh, and are you taking the soda cans with you into hiding? We are getting a little concerned, because we have already suffered through shortages. Regarding the toilet paper, it seems that panic buying is on a roll again. As one store manager of a grocery store chain posted online, “For the love of God, please stop hoarding!”

I guess we need limits. Maybe even rationing. Some folks just like to stock up. I get it. So now we also have “pantry stocking,” which I guess is a new “2020 thing.” I recall that there wasn’t a bean, noodle or bag of flour anywhere to be found several months ago. And sadly, scarcity is becoming a familiar headache. With the coronavirus cases surging and restrictions looming, what are people supposed to do? 

Fear of shortages are often a self-fulfilling prophecy, which is why we are seeing our retail centers running low on many “in-demand” products.

In a recent survey, half of all Americans said they plan to stockpile food and essential items (anyone seen a disinfectant wipe lately?) prior to the holidays. Well, they are fast approaching, we are into December, and we should be stockpiling candy canes and Christmas cookies, not toilet paper! OK, so the holidays might seem a little dimmer this year. We are in the throes of a pandemic and hungover from a contentious election. Oh, and we are not supposed to hug our family and friends, go to parties or Christmas caroling (something about singing with a mask is not right, and without one, singing superspreads germs). Yikes! No wonder so many folks are spiking the eggnog! Santa, we could use a little cheer right about now!

The good news is this is the beginning of the best of all seasons—when we can shine a light on our blessings, large and small. We still care for others, give to the less fortunate, donate time, energy, clothing and food to those in need. We will find beauty in a simple string of lights. A freshly cut, misshapen Christmas tree will grace our homes. Our table will be set with red plates and a poinsettia. Church bells will ring, and whether in person or in video chats, we will find a way to gather. 

My girlfriend has put a roll of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, face mask and a miniature prayer book in gift bags and is handing them out to colleagues, neighbors and friends. She said she wanted to give only “meaningful items” this year. Then there is a woman in Phoenix who has decorated her 7-foot Christmas tree with toilet paper rolls (which has gone viral) and she is giving a tutorial on how to make a “potty tree” look fabulous. 

Perhaps we should opt for a more “traditional” Christmas and gift-giving season—one with no scarcity of joy, hope and goodwill. Toilet paper? Que sera, sera.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor. Have a question or a comment? Email Judy at