Shoppers at Yorktown Center Mall in Lombard on Monday were short on time, but plenty were long on tradition.
As in, they purposefully waited until Christmas Eve to complete most, if not all of their holiday shopping.
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"I'm headed to one more place," said 23-year-old Chris Eckert, who had bought a pepper grinder and was on his way to buy his dad a sweater.
Eckert explained that he flew in from North Carolina to visit his parents in Glen Ellyn. And because he usually flies in on Christmas Eve, completing his shopping at the last minute has become a tradition of sorts.
"I always do my best under pressure," he said. "I actually thought it was going to be really, really crowded."
Wheaton resident Ed Pawlak went shopping on Black Friday and called it quits after two hours.
"Everybody was in a rush," he recalled.
Pawlak was at the mall Monday buying a glass case for his sister that could hold either a large candle or a plant. After he put it in his car, he was headed back to the mall -- not for presents, but for a cup of coffee and to soak up some of the holiday spirit, such as listening to the grand piano at Von Maur.
"I'm going to try and get into the spirit now that the buying's done," Pawlak said. "I always wait. Part of it's procrastination. When you've been doing this so long, it's hard to find that special gift."
Pushing a stroller and carrying several bags, Lupe Terrazas usually doesn't wait until the eleventh hour to do her shopping.
"I didn't have time," she said.
This year, she had something really big to buy first: a house in Lombard that she just moved into on Saturday from Chicago.
Terrazas and her three kids, Juan, 9, Luis, 6 and Alicia, 3, were shopping for Terrazas's two teenage nephews. She also bought a shower curtain for her new home. "I found a lot of places that has buy-one, get-one half off for the last-minute shoppers."
For years, Lynn Ball, of Villa Park, has gone shopping with her niece, Ashley Ball, 12.
"It's our 12th year. Every year, we meet around noon and go to the mall," explained the elder Ball, who noted that when her niece was younger, Santa Claus was definitely the main attraction.
Now that Ashley is older, it's about spending time with her aunt before dinner in Lombard at Ashley's grandma's house. They said it's usually not too crowded on Christmas Eve and store clerks generally are in good spirits because it's near the holiday and they have Christmas Day off work.
"That's why we always come Christmas Eve. It's nice, relaxing," Lynn Ball said.