December is always expensive for me. Not only is it Christmas, which means I have to buy all sorts of Christmas presents for the family, but both my wife and my daughter celebrate their bithdays in the middle of the month.
I live close to the largest shopping mall in Scandinavia. Thinking, perhaps somewhat naively, that not many people would be out doing their shopping on a sunday, I invited my wife to come with me to choose her birthday present. That was my first mistake of the day. The parking facilities were full to overflowing. It took an age to park the car.
My dear wife is easily pleased as a rule. Gold or shoes. Or jewelry or shoes. Or both. This year, it was a watch. She had seen it in a brochure from one of the shops at the mall. So off we went to get it.
On seeing the watch, we decided it really wasn’t the one for her, but one of the others on show was a little more attractive. She tried it on. The wristband was too big, but being a kind of chain, we could remove links. It fitted after the necesary adjustment. Right. Done deal. Happy birthday Darling.
The only other thing to do now, was to pick up a DVD recording thingy that we have had repaired, under guarantee, from one of the larger chain stores. It was her Christmas present from last year. We knew it was ready for collection as the store had telephoned us two days ago. No problem there then, but my wife decided that she would look around some shops before collecting the big and heavy electronic magic box. She led me into one of the larger department stores.
I hate these places. As I have written before, I am not the worlds smallest man. In fact, I’m quite large. Big, both up and around. Unfortunately, the stores build their aisles smaller around Christmas because they need every available inch of floor space for their displays. This generally causes me to creep around, because if you break it, you buy it. Add to that the masses of fat, impolite, gotta get there now, grab it because it’s the last one on the shelf people and my patience is very soon worn thin. It should be called the “shopping maul”, not shopping mall. Because mauling is what goes on. One should be wearing body armour. Being shoved, bumped and mugged by shopping carts and push chairs and inconsiderate people wearing tents with heavy plastic and wire baskets and a chorus of ten screaming children in tow, I tend to get a tad annoyed. So I stand still in protest, refusing to move. Which effectively blocks one aisle and then people need to take a detour round me. Standing my ground, I scowl at anyone approaching my space.
My wife, on the other hand, loves to shop. She goes willingly into this fray, moving like a cat in a forest and has an eye for a bargain and generally gets one or two. This time it was expensive porcelain designer Christmas tree decorations at less than half price, a thing for whipping milk to a froth for coffee and something she wanted for her mother as a Christmas present.
We stood in the inevitable line and paid the bill and then, finally, off to the electrical store to pick up our recorder. That was the easy bit.
Getting out was as unpleasant as getting in. Cars everywhere and chaos as drivers fought to get in the right lanes, get in queue to use the ticket which is necessary to escape from the overfilled parking lot, only to add to the confusion outside the parking lot because the cross traffic is relentless and the idiot on the main road won’t give an inch to you as he blocks the exit. This, despite the fact, that he can’t move forward because the traffic lights are against him anyway, and there is a huge line of traffic in front of him that isn’t going anywhere just yet. Just how inconsiderate, or stupid, are people allowed to be before you get out of your car and punch them?
My wife tells me that next year, she won’t shop with me. She says that every year. But foolishly, I never seem to remember that after a year has gone by. I do this every year. I hate it. I love Christmas, but detest the mass hysteria that I have to throw myself into just to buy a damn gift for my loved ones.
There has to be a better solution. I just haven’t found it yet.