I used to love Christmas shopping. When I was a wee lass (just a few years ago) I would even dart around Cavendish and the Link (ok I admit it was a bit longer than a few years ago) ticking off gifts on my mother’s list also. Now I growl when I hear my über-organised friends smugly announce in October that that their presents are all wrapped already. And when I think of the ordeal ahead, way too close to the madding crowd, I cringe in fear and claustrophobia.
Why, pray tell, do bellicose, paunchy men who would rather be back in their boardrooms, on the golf course, or sipping beer at Castle Corner, not do just that? They hang around in sweaty queues, taking up space with their overloaded trolleys and long faces, lecturing their womenfolk about how they have got the size, colour, style of Aunty Agatha’s token cardie wrong and generally irritating shoppers with their sighs and braggart ways. (Btw, dear Mr ‘I-am-not-racist-but…’ just because I am white does not mean I agree with you when you look at me meaningfully while you rudely lambast the bedraggled casual at the till, and mutter pointed remarks about ‘these people’. Try to remember you are a guest in our city and that she is exactly that: a person.) Thank goodness such tourists only get three weeks leave (rude teacher-joke) or we’d have to suffer them in September too. Perhaps that is why my sensible acquaintances are so proactive about filling their Christmas stockings early.
At least most of these captains of industry are too slow for queue jumping. “I was in the queue’ is not good enough if you are no longer. And those perky little pushers-in always seem to have armloads of items, some of which inevitably do not have tags so we have to wait while Overworked Casual Number 2 flits off to find the price… gets distracted by Shopper with a question and Security Guard pointing something out…returns to find me slumbering like one of the infamous foolish bridesmaids.
And don’t get me started on parking theft (Can’t they see me indicating?!). That’s why I try to avoid large shopping complexes like Canal Walk at this time. I can remember driving around for over an hour one year there. (With 5 children under 12 that was no fun). We have become part of the diaspora of Southern Suburbs folk who have nudged closer to the Bokkom Curtain of the West Coast and my resolution about Christmas purchases is that if it cannot be found in the greater Table View area, it cannot be bought. For parking revenge check out this video:
It’s bad enough that fellow last-minute buyers don’t appreciate the art of using those nifty orange flashing lights on the sides of one’s car, but many of them cannot walk straight either. Now I am the last one to brag about family members with impeccable line manoeuvring, but I have taught Shannon to pick a floor tile and follow it and a hefty elbow to Liam’s midriff keeps him on the straight and narrow. Not so other families, who saunter three-adults-plus-pram abreast and then stop without warning, or who weave in and out of the rest of us, often as if they are James Dean playing chicken in ‘Rebel Without a Cause.’
Even Father Christmas seems to be merely about a photo op and not the experience, but then again that whole concept is a trifle creepy. Who takes a job as a store Santa anyway… In hindsight I don’t think I’d ever encourage my children to sit on a strange man’s lap, not even for a Hallmark moment.
Okay by now I seem to have out-Scrooged the Grinch so let me also share that there is immense pleasure to be had from grabbing that perfect little something for each person (even if Sean brings home the same perfect idea I had for Caitlin and we have to brave Bayside all over again to exchange one). And I am a sucker for carols. My kids discovered to their amusement that I have an enormous collection of famous people singing Christmassy songs, now EXcluding the WORST CD I ever bought: Neil Diamond’s Christmas album (What was I thinking?!)
So despite my irritation at times with passing pilgrims, I do try to think of those alone at this time; those who are celebrating the first Christmas after the death of someone special and to remember that God sent His Son for the pushy dude with the trolley as much as for me.
Fr Kevin spoke at mass about counting our blessings and meditating on The Magnificat. That is easy: Andrew, Brigid, Sean, Caitlin, Michael, Lizzy, Shannon, Mika and Liam.
And next year perhaps Caitlin will shop for me – I think she is better at it anyway.
God bless you all, dear readers, for a holy and peaceful Christmas.
Luke 1:46-55 English Standard Version (ESV):
Mary’s Song of Praise: The Magnificat
46 And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”