Monday, December 8, 2014

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - 8 December - Christmas Shopping

Barbara McLoughlin with parcel circa 1955

Thomas MacEntee at Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories says:

For many of us, the focus of the Christmas season isn’t on “things” but on family and friends. Still, we like to give presents – large and small – to those we love. Do you shop during Christmastime or do you shop much earlier in the year to get it out of the way? Have you seen a change in your shopping habits as you’ve gotten older? Do you shop online? Do you participate in Black Friday or Cyber Monday activities? What was Christmas shopping like for your family and ancestors?

Tell us about how you do Christmas shopping and your memories of Christmases past.

As a child growing up my memories of Christmas shopping were about food (how surprising - not!).

Barbara Conner at butcher's in Edinburgh

My mother would always be looking for the biggest turkey she could find...often so big that it wouldn't actually fit in the oven.  There was always a last minute frantic rush to DJs in Market Street to pick up the order.  There were special ingredients to find for things like the Christmas cake.  For example, where could we find the melon and ginger jam or the chow chow preserves for Charmaine Solomon's Traditional Christmas Cake?  Who had the best Christmas crackers that were both tolerable in design terms but also had decent novelties inside?  David Jones' Christmas tree decoration department was a "must".  Not necessarily to purchase, mind, but much enjoyable looking.

I remember standing next to a conveyor belt of brightly wrapped sweets or lollies downstairs in Market Street as well, trying to pick the best ones.  These would be placed in bowls with nuts in the living room. Licorice allsorts were popular too.

I don't remember shopping for presents as a child except for maybe my grandparents.  A pretty nightie for Gran or shoes for Grandad.  The emphasis was on making things - for example, pomanders for my mother which would give me sore thumbs from pressing the cloves into the oranges.  She would often make me a new toy or doll which would be sticking up out of the pillowcase at the end of my bed to greet me on Christmas morning.

I freely confess that Christmas shopping now is usually done at the screaming last minute.  I loathe shopping malls and do my best to avoid them,mostly because of the potential for a scrape in the carpark.  I try and support local shops in shopping strips.  I haven't quite gone over to online shopping yet, though I have purchased the odd thing on Etsy.

We've had some fun in the past shopping at Op Shops or recycling books from home.  

I have tried to make gifts in the past too e.g. jam or sweets or tea cosies but its been a sporadic affair.  

I never feel guilty when shopping in a bookshop though.  Some of my happiest earliest working memories was working in Grahame's bookshop in Sydney when I finished school one Christmas.  I got to help people choose books for friends and family.  They spent, what seemed to me, hundreds of dollars in a snatched lunch hour.  It was pretty fast and furious but lots of fun.

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