Letters to a Sister 33

I took Mum Christmas shopping in Crawley. It started as expected with many laps of the car park looking for a space. We could, of course, have avoided this by following the signs that a dodgy bloke was holding up outside the car park, directing us to a £2 car parking place. I think he had written it on an old cardboard box. He looked like he eats small children for breakfast, wasn’t sure I entirely trusted that his ‘car park’ would be legal. Or near the shops. Or safe. But perhaps I’m just cynical.

Next adventure was trying to reach shop level. We were parked on level three. There was a lift but it didn’t seem to prioritise going to the top floor. So we would watch it leave ground floor, rise to level one, then level two, then pause (while we held our breath) then drop to level one. We joined two women who looked annoyed. They had been waiting four days already. I decided to go down the stairs. I left Mum, promising I would return by tea time with food and water (I could have done with those Jaffa cakes you took back to Canada) and walked down.

There were stairs down to level two. Then the staircase ended. Unexpected design flaw I felt, when designing a shopping centre one should assume the people parking want to access the shops. I had to go back into the car park and walk to the end to find stairs that took me to the shops. A sign would have been a kind thought. Then, on level two, there were escalators, which made me quite hopeful of reaching shops. Unfortunately, all the escalators from floor one to ground were broken, except for one in the far corner. Considered sliding down bannister, felt it would be undignified. Spotted Mum emerging from lift. Finally reached her. Felt maybe mass-murderer car park might have been good option.

There were decorations in the shopping centre. Somewhat naff ones, it looked like half were missing. I am guessing the person sent to find the box of decorations in the loft who was not a great lover of Christmas decorations, had told them, “this is the only box I could find.” I have the same problem in my own house. The decorations were silver shapes and were hung from the high ceilings. At an angle. At least, some were, some were straight. Hard to tell if there was a plan. Maybe they ran out of time, they are clearly not entering any shopping centre decoration competitions this year, if such things exist. Perhaps they had trouble getting from top floor. Am sympathetic.

The problem with shops (well, one of the problems – there are many actually) is that they are too hot. Especially Debenhams. I worked for Debenhams once, before I went to college. We were given blue and white spotty blouses to wear that tied in a bow at the neck and we had to wear navy skirts. I didn’t have a navy skirt so wore a vaguely blue one but no one seemed to mind. It was always too hot even then. I do not find being hot, especially when wearing a heavy winter coat, encourages me to shop. If Mr Debenham is reading this, he might like to take note and turn down the thermostat in his shops.

Anyway, despite being a shopping trip, it was relatively successful. I bought gifts for my nieces and even remembered that one has a birthday right before Christmas. Usually this catches me out and I have to rewrap her Christmas present in birthday paper and then buy something else.

I like Christmas presents actually. Maybe not so much the actual gift, but I love seeing them all wrapped up, lumpy and mysterious. My children still have a stocking, a heap of smaller gifts that they open Christmas eve. Every year now I suggest that they might be too old for this but they tell me it is the “funnest part of Christmas.” Clearly I should buy them some grammar books.

Last Christmas was especially good. I was just a few months post op, so had no idea what I had wrapped, it was an exciting surprise for me too to see them open their presents. It was nearly not so fun for daughter. A couple of days before Christmas, husband asked to check which gifts I had bought (he likes to help each year.) I proudly showed him the stack of wrapped gifts. He asked which one was for daughter, as it wasn’t there. I knew I had bought her a coat but couldn’t actually find it. He enquired if it was the coat I had bought and given her the year before, which would explain why I couldn’t find it – she was probably wearing it. We did a hasty trip to the shops and all was well.

Hope you haven’t frozen yet. Mainly rain here.

Take care,
Anne xxx

PS. I was somewhat perturbed by your postscript. I am assuming that the most precious ornaments go on the back of your tree to ensure they’re safe. I have this year NOT put the Angels you made for me on my tree (because people kept asking why I had ghosts hanging on my tree.) But they took pride of place for many years. Just saying.

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This letter is written in reply to one from my sister.  You can read her reply (to an earlier letter, number 32) at :

 http://ruthdalyauthor.blogspot.ca/2015/12/sisters-should-live-on-same-continent.html

Thank you for reading

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