December 10, 2013
A Country Mouse in Metrotown
Yesterday, my husband and I took our two daughters for our annual Skip-school-and-go-Christmas- shopping expedition. We made stops a some of our favourite places and ended our day by venturing into the final frontier of mass consumerism - the largest mall in the Lower Mainland. With three floors of over 400 shops, Metropolis at Metrotown is normally the kind of place I would avoid, but I have to admit, for the purposes of Christmas shopping, it works. For one thing, it has an actual store devoted to the sale of recorded music and movies. Our local CD Plus store closed down a couple of years ago and since then, it has been very hard to avoid ordering the more alternative types of music from Amazon. Most of us in our family have Ipods, but prefer the tangible quality of a CD when it comes down to it. Two of us even prefer vinyl records, and no, those two are not my husband and I.
When we arrived at Metrotown, we chose a spot a which to meet back, armed ourselves with the maps provided by the mall, syncronized our watches - well, not really, but it sounds cool - and separated. Our eldest daughter recently got herself a smart phone, so we decided to call each other if one of us needed more time. Our daughters went off together, and my husband and I began our search for a specialty item for one of our sons. We optomistically thought, in a mall of 400 stores we would find that special item our son desires at a price we could possibly afford, but after our search through at least ten shops we had to give up. We decided to move down our list and had much more success shopping for one of my sisters and her family. Every year my parents act as Kris Kringle Central and my siblings and I are each given the name of another sibling for whom we put a festive parcel together. We like to fill the parcel with locally made items, but there were a couple of things we wanted to give them that we could not make or find locally. While we searched for these things, we had our antennae up for inspired, affordable gift ideas for other people on our list, including our two daughters.
By four o'clock I was bleary-eyed and suffering from low blood-sugar. We met up with our daughters who led us, me practically by the hand, to one of the mall's two Tim Hortons for some sustenance. After a gingerbread muffin and an apple juice I felt somewhat revived. Our eldest daughter, Emma then went off by herself and our youngest, also somewhat revived by a 7UP and a doughnut, came with my husband I to find something for her brother.
Metrotown has a Chapters book store, which is fun to browse and has a fabulous selection in categories ranging from Literary Criticism to Manga. I had an idea of a book in mind, but not a specific title. I found the section I needed and began reading through a number of similar books. After about forty-five minutes I had my selection narrowed down to two choices. Emma came in to meet us, glowing with the success at finding some much needed shoes for herself marked down seventy-five percent as well as several other gifts for friends and family members. I appealed to her for help in making my final choice. She looked quickly through both books, weighed the pros and cons of both and chose the less expensive one. I, led by her confidence and youthful energy, took her advice and bought the one she liked. I had another book in mind and went off in search of it. By then, I was beginning to fall apart. My husband, ever sensitive to my moods - one of the many reasons we are still married - put his arm around me, saying, "It's going to be okay." I explained how I hated shopping when I felt pressured to find the perfect gift. On our budget, we have to make every purchase count and I wanted our gifts to be personal and meaningful. In that overwhelming environment full of masses of manufactured stuff, glittering and vying for the attention of masses of shoppers - and it was only Monday - I was finding it hard to see the value in anything. The fact was I wanted to go home, have a cup of tea and slip into a nice hot bath. Instead, I pulled myself together and found the second book. Our youngest had seen an obscure item we had wanted to find and we went off to get it, applauding her keen eye.
On the way home I sunk into my seat, grateful for the roads which cleared by the time we got over the Port Mann Bridge. For a lightly snowy Monday, the traffic was busy. By Langley we could breathe a bit easier as the traffic spread out a bit. We put on Emma's new Arcade Fire album and my husband turned it up. Just after Chilliwack the snow had started again and little darts of white came at us in the headlights. We made it home in good time and I put the kettle on. Emma had a shower, our youngest had a quick bath, and then I had my bath scented with lavender. My husband caught up with the hockey game on TV. I climbed into bed and was asleep by 9:30.
Today I have a Metrotown hangover, but the layer of snow is brightening the world outside my window and it's almost warm enough to wear only one pair of pants today. Despite my sense of renewal after a good night's sleep, when I think about yesterday, This is starting to look a little more appealing.