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Posts Tagged ‘Shopping’

Well, being the highly spiritual family that we are, the Christmas Eve tradition that I am about to share will surely amaze all who read about it.

This family tradition goes back to my hubby’s family, and specifically, with his dad.

Hubby fondly remembers that on Christmas Eve he and his big brother would go to the grocery store with their dad. They would buy whatever staples the family would need for the Christmas feast to be enjoyed the following day.

But, that was not all! Hubby’s father would also treat his boys to some treats that were not regular purchases for their cash strapped family. Things like potato chips, pop and ice cream.

When hubby and I started a family he was confident that this tradition must go on. And it still does. Around mid afternoon, on December 24th, hubby and the kids load into the family vehicle. They head to our local grocery store … with sugar plums dancing in their heads!

When at the store they pick up whatever list of items that I need to prepare the roast beast the next day. And then they pick up their treats. The only way to define their purchases, is to say that they purchase all of the items that I would almost never buy. Things like sugary cereals, ice cream (but not vanilla … a flavor resembling a favorite chocolate bar), pops (sodas, for the American reader), and candy.

Then they come home, hyped up on the anticipation of eating all of the treats that they have purchased.

There are also huge amounts of eagerness to show their treasures to me, since those are treasures that I would never purchase (a bit of gloating is what is happening).

I love that our kids have this special tradition with their dad. I love that it is something that they only share with him. To me that is worth the nutritional emptiness of what they have  bought. Spiritual? No. But definitely memory-creating! And the oral stories that get passed down from year to year will continue on into the future lives of our kids, as they grow and form their own families.

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imagesAs we begin to adjust to the moving of the calendar to December, we can no longer deny that Christmas is coming.

Truly one would have to live as a hermit in the forest to have not been noticing it for weeks already. Our mailbox is stuffed with flyers, our inbox is stuffed with admail, and our grocery stores are stuffed with more than the usual amounts of food that we should only eat in moderation.

Another giveaway of the impending holiday season is that our calendars, daytimers and schedules are packed with activities, parties, concerts and celebrations.

Since way back on the hottest day in July, when shopping at a wholesale store and seeing that Christmas decorations filled one aisle, I have been aware that the Christmas that I celebrate, is not the one that is loudest at this time of year. I sighed, and began the mental preparations for the noises of the season.

My guest post today is one that I have shared before, but the video that holds the message is different.

It arrived in my inbox one day last week, almost drowned from my inbox by the dozens of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale advertisements. As I hit delete for the twenty-ninth time, I almost didn’t open this message, but decided to check it out.

And here it is, give it a look, no …give it a LISTEN

“… but the Lord was not in the wind:
and after the wind an earthquake;
but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
And after the earthquake a fire;
but the Lord was not in the fire:
and after the fire a still small voice.”
1 Kings 19:11-12

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This coming Friday is Black Friday.

For those of us who are not familiar with this annual, largely American (although spreading all over North America) tradition of Black Friday, it is the Friday following American thanksgiving, which signifies the start of the holiday shopping season. Retailers have traditionally opened their doors earlier than normal, and had specials to attract shoppers to set their alarm clocks for ungodly hours.

I admit, I have never gone shopping on Black Friday, although I have considered it a time or two, but the memories of the news stories of years past has always kept me safe at home.

I was recently speaking with an employee of a large department store about this infamous day. She is a woman working a low paying, thankless job, in order to pay her bills and support her

family. She was a delightful woman, who would appear to work hard, and treat other people well. As we talked it was obvious that she was certainly not excited by the idea that she would need to return to work, on her holiday planned with family, hours earlier than one year ago. For she, and many like her, the day set aside for giving thanks will instead be spent serving many people who walk with an air of expectation and entitlement.

Then she told me a story from the year before. An older woman was waiting patiently in line for a store employee to open up an electronics wall. When the door opened, the crowd surged forward, like starving dogs before a dead carcass, hoping to find a morsel of meat left on the bones. The older lady fell to her knees, and the crowd around her was so ravenous for whatever lifeless thing they were pursuing that they did not even notice her fall. Thankfully, a pair of store staff did notice, and were able to lock up the wall and open the eyes of the crowd to the lady who had fallen.

The comment of the store employee has stuck with me, “people are becoming like animals! They did not care or even notice this poor woman … they could have trampled her to death!”

Indeed, our human race is losing the breath of life that was given to us at the beginning of time, the breath of life that we should be so thankful for. It makes me ask, as was asked by God, in the middle of a valley full of very dry bones, in Ezekiel 37, “son of man, can these bones live?”” I too would respond, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”

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I had the most fun recently at an electronics store recently, and just had to share it.

I admit that I am somewhat nastily opinionated when it comes to electronics stores.

The main reason is that I resent their ‘restocking’ fees. A restocking fee is a charge by a retailer for having to re-shelve an item that you, as the customer, are returning to the store.

Stores have been known to charge anywhere from 1% to 50% of the original cost of the item purchased! Imagine, you purchase a $70 i Pad case (with bluetooth keyboard), because it is not satisfactorily performing for you. The store charges a 20% restocking fee ($14) to put it back on the shelf! That is a dinner out at Subway!

The main reason for electronics stores to charge this restocking fee is packaging. Once a package is ripped and bent, the retailer has a more difficult time to sell that merchandise as ‘new’ – I certainly would choose the computer in the sealed box over the one with the bent corner!

Thankfully, in most situations, if the item was faulty to begin with, most stores will take it back, but do not purchase without first confirming it (perhaps in writing, maybe in triplicate) with the store manager.

So, back to my electronics store experience …

I had a bit of time to burn one evening while picking up groceries and doing errands, and what did I do? Go to a coffee shop and put my feet up with a cup of my favorite hot drink? Slip into a nail salon for an indulgent manicure? Go window shopping in the mall? No, I went on an adventure at the electronics store I detest the most.

I gave myself a challenge: twenty minutes to get into the store, wander around and get out again … without a store employee asking if they could help me!

I was like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible, or Jason Bourne in Bourne Identity! I was stealthy without being too obvious as to my goal for the night.

I nipped down aisles, and disappeared into a crowd oohing and ahhing over paper shredders. I bent down out of site to the level of store brand headphones. I hid behind a large store sign advertising a phone case with none other than the familiar faces of either Jacob or Edward.

Not once did I have to give rational for my presence in their hallowed aisles, by answering the constant (predictable) question, “may I help you find anything?” Not once did I have to make small talk with a salesperson who was trying to be my momentary ‘friend’ with the hopes of a great big commissioned sale.

And, when the time I had set aside came and went, I walked, proudly, with my head held high, as I walked through those motion sensor operated doors out to my van. I had beaten ‘them’!

And I giggled all the way home.

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I remember so clearly the first Barbie that our eldest daughter had, and the first lesson she taught us in the process of purchasing it.

The television was constantly advertising ‘Butterfly Princess Barbie’ at every opportunity, and with each commercial break our daughter would say, “Mom, can I get that Barbie?”

Finally, it was her birthday, and we thought we would let her go with us to the store to pick it out. Unfortunately, we had gone shopping in the U.S., and, unfortunately, there was not one Butterfly Princess Barbie, like the one we had all seen on television … or so we thought.

As hubby and I were preparing for deep and mortal depression from our daughter, when she realized that the desired doll was not there, we heard her happy shout, “there she is!” Our eyes moved to the doll that she was struggling mightily to reach on a higher shelf, and then to each other. The doll most certainly was Butterfly Princess Barbie, but she did not have the blue eyes, the golden blond hair, or the alabaster skin. This doll was most clearly the African American doll.

When we lifted it down to her opened arms, and hugged it tightly, we asked if she was sure this was the one she wanted. And she answered, “yes” with her arms still tightly embracing it. We then said, “you do realize that she is not exactly like the one on TV?”

With this questions, she opened her eyes, and looked carefully at the doll in the box. She held it out, she frowned, she stared at it intently, and then she said, “you are right, she has brown eyes instead of blue,” and continued hugging it.

And her father and I looked at each other, and marveled at how quickly and completely we had seen the differences, and how much effort it took for her to see even one.

That is the story that most of us have been taught by our children, or by others children. For children do not see differences, but similarities. We grow up to see, to point out, and to fear differences.

I like that lesson, that was taught to me so innocently by a three-year old. It kind of reminds me of one of the most influential songs of my childhood …

“Jesus Loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red and yellow black and white
They’re all precious in his sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world”

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My day started when the alarm rang at 6:15am, so that I could join my dad for a walk … unfortunately he slept through his alarm, so our walk was a bit later, and a bit shorter.

I had no idea just how addicted I had become to technology … specifically wi-fi … until arriving here in New Brunswick to visit family and friends. My parents do have a computer, and I’ve been using it to write, but my site is not configured ‘right’ and I am far too committed to Apple products to understand the world of PC. And the 3G isn’t working so … expeditiously … so my phone is reminding me of dial up internet.

So, as I sit at Starbucks, in a Chapters store (one of two in the area I am presently in … and, for those of you who cannot imagine it … in the entire province of New Brunswick, the number of locations has almost tripled in three years! From three locations, in 2008, to eight, in 2011 … I have entered the dominion of Tim Hortons! But, I digress), I am so thankful for the free wi-fi they offer (according to my free wi-fi app, the two Starbucks locations are the only free wi-fi hotspots within walking distance of where I am).

Today was shopping day with my niece and … hum, what do I call her? She used to be married to my brother, but they divorced … but, she still feels like my sister-in-law … I guess a couple can divorce from each other, but the ‘expended’ connections don’t dissolve so easily (or willingly). Honestly the two of them are a great pair! And I love them both 🙂 We shopped, we talked, we thoroughly embarrassed my niece 😀 .

Dinner tonight was such a comfort food meal … macaroni casserole (Mom’s famous recipe with beef, cheese and tomato soup), and biscuits (thanks to dad), salad (thanks to my purchase) and dessert (thanks to sister-in-law). And speaking of salad … vegetables are not a popular food choice here (I can only speak for my parents home), so I am eating here like hubby is feeding himself and the kids!

After dinner (or supper, as the locals call it) my niece and I got to spend the evening riding Go Carts. I truly believe that my niece may just have a future with NASCAR (or, more locally, as a stock car driver) … she makes me proud 😉

The day held many other things, many other goings on. I got home at 1am … and, after completing this blog entry … well, I will sleep well. I must say I really missed my kids today … probably because I spent time with my niece.

What fun they would have had … all together, to tease Grammie, to repeat things over and over and over again to Grampie (no, he’s not hard of hearing, they just do not speak loudly enough … ), to find similarities in each other, and to just be together.

And that is what time with far away family is all about … just being together … oh, and tomorrow I pick up the rental car 😉

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