So the Girl says to me the other day, “You know how people start their big Christmas shopping on Black Friday? Well, I’m all done by Black Friday. That’s going to be my goal every year.”
What? She’s organised and thoughtful enough to have finished buying all her gifts already? Granted, 10-year-olds don’t have that many gifts to buy, or big budgets, and it’s not as big a deal here in Canada as it is in the U.S. (for an idea of how big a deal it is there, check out these photos). Still, it’s nice to think that she’s thought ahead. I just hope that she doesn’t get into the need-t0-shop mentality later in life, and that she continues to keep it simple.
Is it a point of pride or embarrassment that my whole life, I’ve never shopped on Boxing Day, and likely never will? The closest I ever came was on the day after Boxing Day (as I recall, stores weren’t allowed to open on Boxing Day in Halifax back then) when I was about 16. Sure, the crowds were dense enough for a medium-sized mall in a medium-sized city. But I’ve never done the ultimate—go out on the busiest shopping day of the year, in any of Canada’s largest cities.
So yesterday, while I was staying with a dear friend in Montreal, we ventured into the downtown core for some Boxing Week shopping. And it being two full days after Boxing Day, the madness had died down significantly. We could very calmly browse through Simons, Les Ailes de la Mode, and all along Ste. Catherine street, without fearing about being trampled on, or lifetime-shortening line-ups at the cash register. Here are a few things that these two Boxing Week shopping virgins discovered:
1- We both are the type of people who mostly enjoy shopping alone, mainly for two reasons: we don’t like the idea that we’re dragging a friend along unwillingly from shop to shop, and we like to shop quickly and without the idea that someone might be slowing us down.
2- That being said, the good thing about shopping with a friend is taking advantage of 3-for-1 sales. These are rare even during Boxing Week, but exciting to spot.
3- My friend made the most obvious observation of the year: Sales clerks during Boxing Week are not so friendly. Go figure.
4- Not all stores offer huge savings. A $200 item with only $40 knocked off is not worth standing in line for. Come on, Simons, you can do better than that.
5- Restaurant employees are friendlier than retail store clerks during Boxing Week.
So, our shopping adventure turned out pretty well, considering our general lack of experience. We had fun, we weren’t crushed or mobbed, and we enjoyed the relative calm of the stores and the streets, which allowed for some chit-chatting during our adventure.
And would I do it again? As long as it’s not on the Dreaded Day itself—absolutely.
The Boy has always been more, um, demanding than his sister whenever we go shopping. We’ve always been proud of our Girl for not asking for things when we go shopping (in fact, so many times, we have to practically force something on her: “C’mon. We bought something for your brother. Don’t you want something? How about this? Surely you’d like just this one thing?”), and we ourselves have never been keen shopaholics. But where our Boy got his I-want-I-want-I-want attitude, we’ve never been able to figure out. We’ve tried to move him away from it, and we like to think that we’re slowly becoming successful.
So it was interesting to have this conversation this afternoon, while entering Loblaw’s:
Me: Umm, no. We’re just going to look at them because they’re fun to see. We can’t buy that type of ice cream, honey. They’re really too sweet.
The Boy: Oh.
(Pause of about 10 seconds.)
The Boy: Mama?
The Boy: Do you mind if we don’t look at the ice cream flavours?
The Boy: Because I would like them so much, and want to buy them. I would prefer to not see them at all.
It’s grand to see a four-year-old aware of his own weakness, and be able to control his consumerist desire. Even when we accidentally came across some Hot Wheels in the store later (really, marketers, putting Hot Wheels in the cereal aisle at kids’ eye level? For shame!) I was so proud of him for saying, “I just wanna look at them. I don’t want any.” I have confidence that this newfound self-control will be long-term.