A couple of sunny weekend days back to back brought the neighbourhoods alive. The drone of leaf blowers signified homeowners picking up the last leaves of the season. The clang and ratchet of aluminum ladders heralded the installation of Christmas lights, which is a sure sign the festive season is near.
If there was any doubt, a newscaster announces there are 24 shopping days left until Christmas, which sends everyone checking their calendars. Can that be right, 24 days? For some that is like a starter firing the gun, and they’re off. For others it is just one more step down the depression ladder. They pull the covers over their head and hope it all just goes away.
We hear new terms creep into our Christmas shopping scene. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now days that bring in billions of dollars to retailers. The marketing promotion for Cyber Monday is all about convenience.
The attraction of shopping online is that you never leave the house. You can shop for the grandkids in your housecoat, while sipping a cup of coffee, or you can buy expensive gifts for loved ones, while enjoying a glass of wine. The more wine you drink, the more expensive the gift. You can be watching your favourite TV show, and when the commercial comes on you fire up the iPad and buy Grandpa a new pair of slippers. While you’re on that website you might as well buy some new shoes for yourself.
What an incredibly boring way to shop. How are you going to get in the Christmas spirit if you don’t get to the mall? We must not forsake the folks who spend so much time dressing windows and putting up gold and silver metal trees. They spend days making you welcome.
What about the adventure of getting there? We all love driving through rain and sleet, stop and go, red light after red light. Then there is thrill of looking for a spot to park. The satisfaction of spotting one and the adrenaline rush when you realize another driver has spotted it at the same time. As you do a four-wheel drift into the spot just ahead of him, you are thankful you watched all those demolition derbies at the PNE.
Once inside there is the assault of music, crying children, and arguing couples. If you stop you are bumped and jostled. Remember, you have to keep moving even if you don’t know where you are going. But you smile and nod at the lady who scrapes your ankle with the stroller and you take time to have a conversation with the neighbour who lives down the street, whom you only see in the mall once a year. It can be a major social event.
I remember the days before the local malls. If Dad was in a good mood we would head out to Guildford or Hamilton Harvey. Those places were entire new worlds and the country kids walked around in awe. There was so much more to see than McDougall’s Toyland in Langley. All the amazing stuff we had only seen on TV was right there on display.
Packing screaming kids into the car and dragging them to the mall should be a major part of every family’s Christmas tradition. It builds much more character than ordering toys online while the kids are sleeping. At least that’s what McGregor says.