Here in this area of the world, Boxing Day is a required holiday, and we're lucky if the local gas station is open. But while that may make a few avid shoppers' skin crawl, it probably is an attempt to temper the anxiety of not being able to shop one day of the year, that is Christmas Day.
But that kind of backfires, too.
My kids got money for Christmas, and my son got an MP 3 player that according to him, only plays a few songs and he needed one with quadruple the memory. So, even with a Nor'easter on the way, we hopped into the little car and drove to the mall. I decided on the little car because I wasn't sure how good the parking would be and taking the SUV might make parking a nightmare. Of course, I ignored the fact a storm was coming and taking the SUV would have been a more sensible precaution. Thankfully, the storm held off until we were done fighting the crowds by then.
My son steered me to the electronic games store. EB something or other. We stood dutifully in line, waiting to get in. I hate waiting in a line to give my money away. There's something inherently wrong with that. But my son was quiet and so was I.
Then I realized his motives. It wasn't for a new MP 3 Player. It was for a Wii. I had made the mistake earlier of saying that I was interested in getting one, only because it would get my son more active, and now I was discovering that we were standing in line to get one.
Finally, we were allowed the special privilege of entering the store. I felt honoured and touched and slightly in awe. Actually, I felt none of those things. I was hot in my winter jacket and feeling a bit claustraphobic. But once in the store, we patiently waited in line again. Only after the thirteen pre-teen kids in front of me had spent all their money on violent games, was I able to face the poor cashier.
"Have you got any Wiis?"
"When do you plan to get them in?"
"Probably January 25th."
"Are you taking names for them?"
"Only if you pay in advance."
"How long is the list?"
"I'm not allowed to tell you."
"So, it's like some national secret?"
"Can I get a refund even before the Wii comes in?"
"How much is it?"
"$269 plus tax."
I paused. The big moment. Up until that time, I had used the excuse of there not being any Wiis available, but now I had my son behind me, who didn't get too much for Christmas this year, and the only thing he wanted didn't hold enough songs because I was stupid in not reading and understanding what 512 mb is. Apparently, it's the equiviant of having a computer that still runs on DOS, but frankly, I'm going to tell you that the computer I had with DOS never crashed.
Finally, I took the plunge. A Wii will get my son moving this winter, and allow us to play some games and stay active. With a bit of remorse at the growing debt, I handed over my credit card.
We left shortly after that, and I allowed my son to pick out some MP 3 player that had video capability. He bought it himself.
Then we went looking for boots for him, but strangely enough, there were none he liked.
I left him to drag myself to the nearest coffee kiosk and ordered a caramel coco-mocha latte with extra whipped cream, caramel drizzles and chocolate sprinkles.
I'd just finished it and the chapter of the book I was reading when my daughter and her boyfriend appeared. She'd dragged the poor boy along to carry her parcels. Ahh, young love.
We met up with some family, helped a young niece develop her own personal style, and then realized my son had not returned to the rendevous point. So we scouted out all the usual suspect shops, but didn't find him.
That's when I spotted the perfect birthday gift for my daughter. And felt my credit card burning again in my pocket. It was perfect. It was also expensive. And it was packed in another big box for my future son-in-law to carry.
It was a dressmaker's mannequin. On sale. Still expensive and remembering that I couldn't just buy a Wii for my son and ignore my daughter.
So I bought it. Note to self. Intercept the credit card bill before husband sees it.
We returned home, and I checked my email. What a delight! The travel agent with whom we had booked our March Break Trip to Cuba had written to tell us she'd posted the balance of our bill onto our credit card.
Ahh, but isn't that what Boxing Day is all about? Spending money you haven't earned yet, while appeasing your guilty conscience?