I do not like shopping. I do not like shopping in the US. I do not like shopping in Poland. I do not like shopping for you. I do not like shopping for me. I do not like shopping for groceries and I especially do not like shopping for Christmas. If you can relate then you are probably a man or you have worked retail during the holiday season. If you have a shopaholic in your family and you’d like to cure them, then a holiday retail job will do the trick.
The Christmas shopping frenzy starts from Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, traditionally one of the biggest shopping days of the year. If you work retail in the USA that means the store has to be decorated by this day and the Christmas Muzak starts. You may even be asked (that should read told) to wear a cute (that should read totally asinine) elf or Santa hat. As an employee, you must be at work extra early and stay extra late. You must never forget to offer an additional product or two, ask if a gift receipt is needed, offer to wrap the gift and wish everyone a generic “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays”. By the time Christmas actually rolls around, your retail job will have slowly leeched out of all your Christmas cheer and have turned you into the biggest Grinch ever. On the bright side: Congratulations, you are cured of your shopaholism forever.
I don’t know if Poland has got something like Black Friday, but if it does, I think it was yesterday. I unfortunately visited the mall yesterday with Lizzie and Rosie in tow. I normally avoid the mall on the weekends as any weekend at the mall in Poland looks like Black Friday in the US, but I had to buy contact lenses and of course my kids wanted to come along. As we entered the mall, we all stopped dead in our tracks. There were kids everywhere. Some were decorating Christmas balls. Some were decorating gingerbread cookies. Others were playing in the play area I call the kid zoo. There was Christmas music and there were Christmas decorations. A Santa Claus and his helpers were passing out candy to all the boys and girls. My kids immediately took off for the “zoo”, ripping off their coats and hats and even their shoes as they went. Luckily, Misiu sat with them as I did my shopping weaving among the crowds to get to the contact lens booth and back. Then we had to convince the kids that it was time to go home.
It was so busy at the mall because December 6th is Santa Claus Day in Poland. We have a bit of a problem with that because we celebrate a more American Christmas and Santa Claus visits us on Christmas Eve when we’re sleeping. In the past, we were able to hide the fact that Santa comes to kids in Poland on December 6th from our own kids because they were so small. They are still small but now that Lizzie goes to Pre-school she knows about everything. Heck, they are having a Santa Claus party today at school. We devised a story that on Santa Claus Day you leave a letter to Santa under your pillow and Santa comes to take it and leaves you a chocolate. Then Santa selects something from your list and brings it on Christmas Eve. Genialny! Our plan was going well until we visited Babcia and Dziadek. As it turns out, Santa Claus visited Babcia and Dziadek and left a huge bag of sweets for each of my girls. My girls haven’t eaten anything except candy for two days.
Despite my dislike for shopping, my Christmas shopping is pretty much finished. Because of my job I am often near some mall with a few minutes to spare. Because of that, I was able to complete my Christmas shopping bit by bit keeping track of all the prices in the different stores and buying when the price was right. Yes, I am one of those moms. (Uwaga: frugal mother’s defensive rant) And I’ll have you know that I was able to get the fire station Lizzie so desperately wants for 200 PLN at Auchan while it was 230 PLN at Carrefour and 250 PLN at Tesco.
Another reason I am pretty much done with my shopping is because Lizzie is under the impression that you can get only one gift for Christmas. We have never told her that and she has always received more, but let’s not fix what ain’t broken. I will not spoil the Christmas surprise for you but each child will get a present from us (Santa), a present from Babcia and Dziadek, a present from Grandma and Grandpa, a stocking and 2 presents that they have to share. Adults do not exchange gifts in my husband’s family but the girls wanted to get something for us and for their grandparents. The girls have got their father underpants. I have suggested socks for myself. Dziadek is getting an exercise ball for his hand (pictured here, that’s not an egg) that I bought today at the Senior Shop and I think Babcia is going to get her favorite coffee. The girls’ nanny will get an extra nice gift probably from Sephora.
Here’s what I would buy if I had more money or if I thought somebody might actually use it.
The big thing here is a universal remote XXL (35 PLN). I would buy it for Dziadek (aka my father-in-law) but his problem is not the size of the buttons but just the sequence of buttons in turning on and off the TV. Mind you, he will not tell you that he needs help. He will just sit in front of the black TV screen and inform you that boxing starts in 5 minutes. The other smaller things here are cell phones. They have huge easy to see and press buttons and on the back of the black one there is an SOS button that calls successively 3 selected numbers. It costs 275 PLN.
Whenever or if-ever we finish our house, I am totally buying this beanbag chair (300 PLN). Lizzie fell in love with it and said it would be a good idea to buy it and to also buy her a soccer uniform like the guys on TV.
PS If Santa Claus comes to the children of Poland on December 6th, then what happens on Christmas Eve? In Poland on Christmas Eve, there is a very nice Christmas Eve supper. In my husband’s family, they sent the children to the window after supper to look for the Christmas star. When they came back, their presents had mysteriously appeared. In some families, the star brings the gift, in others baby Jesus brings the gift and in some Santa brings the gifts again.
PS 2 What are gift receipts? This a receipt (paragon) from the shop for a purchase with all the information you need to return the gift but without the price. You can include it with the gift you are giving and if the person doesn’t like it or it doesn’t fit, they can take it back to the shop. To all of you Polish shoppers who can almost never successfully return anything to a shop (sorry, store policy), you should know that returning stuff is like a national past-time in America…something like mushroom picking in Poland ;)