Ho Ho Holy Shopping Wars Batman!!


My father used to love to Christmas shop.  There was a certain spark in his eye, a unique scintillation that was only ignited when he was donning his overcoat and preparing to get lost in the churning vortex of people at the busiest mall in Toronto. His exuberance always makes me think of the childlike excitement of Darren McGavin’s character in A Christmas Story when he opens his prized “leg lamp”.   Blood would rush to his cheeks, there was a noticeable spring in his step and his baritone voice softly began to echo the songs of the season.  His melodic tone would lure us into his Christmas trance and we were transported into the beauty of all things festive and giving – until we got to the mall.

clothes fight

Taking a child to that mall during the Christmas rush is like taking a lone goldfish from its tranquil bowl and throwing it into a pool of piranhas.  I was honestly terrified.  On more than one occasion, my tiny hand was ripped from my father’s grip and I bounced like a raft down a cascading white water rapid, lost in a sea of angry strangers.

Never had I seen such a heinous display of the exact opposite of the Christmas spirit – it was full-contact shopping.  People pushed, they shoved, they elbowed their way to displays only to begin a game of tug-of-war for an article of clothing that would probably be returned on Boxing Day.  Many of the words uttered by adults were foreign to me, but they were said with such venom that I knew that my ears should not be privy to those descriptive bits of verbiage.

That shopping experience would taint me for the decades that followed.  For years after that nightmare-inducing display of bad will towards men, I adamantly refused to enter those revolving glass doors into Christmas shopping hell.  Even at that tender age, I had become summarily convinced that hand-made gifts would be more appreciated than something that had been plucked from the floor after the department store carnage in those late hours leading up to Christmas.  I was a pioneer, I was a rebel, I was 7 years old and I was scarred for life.

When the holiday season returned the following year and the threat of mall shopping reared its thorny head, I vociferously engaged in a battle of will with the sovereign of commerce.  Daughter vs father, I expounded on the virtue of hand-crafted gifts and chalked up a small victory as I watched his car pull out of the driveway on the path to the slaughterhouse.

Today, I am a proud supporter of local businesses, and for those gifts that cannot be found here, I shop online.  Parcels are delivered safely, with no malicious intent and I no longer feel the dread of shopping for the holidays.  The mall is now vague memory of a life once lived by a child who still wanted to believe in the true Christmas spirit but didn’t want to get “malled” in the process.

17 thoughts on “Ho Ho Holy Shopping Wars Batman!!

  1. If you don’t mind, I’d like to submit the term “Full-contact Shopping” to the folks at Webster’s Dictionary for consideration. I’ll credit you, of course. I don’t want to risk a brawl 😉

  2. I try to shop local as much as possible, too. And why deal with the hassle of stores when it can be delivered right to your door? I love internet shopping. 🙂

  3. I got a dose of this full contact shopping today. Yes, yes I know, shouldn’t have left it so late – it was awful, in fact, so awful to be surrounded by so many people grabbing things at random that I was done in an hour. Happy Holidays!

  4. I like to shop local, too. I gave my co-workers creme brulee fudge from a shop down the street. We don’t have a mall in our small town, but I did have the pleasure (not so much) of going to one a few weeks ago to get my son shoes. Definitely a damaging experience! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas, Susan!

  5. The last time I found malls appealing was when I was a teen and I wanted to check out girls. But for shopping? Hell no.

    I have always been a bit of a planner, so I never had to dive into the mall piranha tank the week before Christmas. I like you, relied on a few local businesses for my shopping needs. Over the years got to know the proprietors of some of these shops very well. I was especially friendly with the owner of an antique/furniture restoration shop who at Christmastime would invite me into his woodshop where we would BS while eating far-too-large slices of rum cake. Now that’s shopping!

  6. I can’t do malls either, generally doing a turn at the top of an escalator and getting lost for several hours. Mind you, I also get lost in the food hall of M & S. This year I adopted a new ploy of what became known as Ninja shopping – I went to the shops first thing, swiftly making my purchases then able to walk quickly along the streets to my next target. As soon as I had to queue to pay, it was time to stop shopping for the day. My local shops turned up trumps too.

  7. Pingback: Being a human pinball isn’t so bad | polysyllabic profundities

  8. Reblogged this on polysyllabic profundities and commented:

    After a conversation with a friend about shopping for the holidays, I was reminded of this post from several years ago. The thought of Christmas shopping in a large and extremely busy mall still fills me with dread and makes my skin turn into something resembling a pale, plucked chicken.

    Since my nephews are much older and we have scaled down on our gift giving, my shopping is done in a geographical location not far from my home or online, saving me the probability of looking into many months of therapy.

    I hope you’ll give it a read. I’m sure my Dad is up their smiling, still wishing he could stroll the hallways of the Yorkdale Mall a day or two before Christmas.

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