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Dispatches From Down East: Christmas Shopping is a Gong Show

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What happens when three excited children, one grandmother and two mamas/aunties go shopping together, manoeuvring a crowded mini-van through a torrential down-pour? A whole lot of candy gets bought, that's what. And very few Christmas gifts ever make it from the shelf to the cash register.

Santa could at the very least provide a few of his slacker elves for babysitting service and maybe a reindeer or two for entertainment. Believe you me. I make no claim to be a Movember kind of gal (admittedly, I'm glad the mo' is on its way out), but that legendary white beard might get a little more lovin' from Mrs. C if Santa was "tuned in" a little to the female quandary, one part of which is shopping with a pack of little peeps.

Peeps with big eyes and the inability to read price tags.

Our gang first hit up a few bookstores around Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, during which time a certain Little Someone got separated from her mother for all of five minutes in one of those stores. Let me pause to explain why it was that my child wandered off.

There is a phenomenon that I like to call "creative disengagement." It is a method used by mothers the world over, whereby the stressed mother seeks to detach herself momentarily from certain cling-ons by sneaking off and hiding ever-so-briefly down store aisles. Merely to pretend that she is calmly shopping. By herself. (And as in my case, slipping off to the section of the bookstore with over 50 words whilst her little ones blissfully pull every book off the shelf in the children's section). However, sales clerks don't really like this method of shopping, and when Darling Littlest One finally located me floating in and around the displays at the end of the store aisles, closely on her heels was Over-Bearing Sales Clerk.

"Where were you? I couldn't find you," the plaintive cry from darling child.

"You lost her," the accusing cackle from over-bearing sales clerk of the nit-picker variety.

'Kay. I didn't lose her. I knew where she was. She was in this store. It's a smallish box store. And I am travelling with two other adults and three other children. I am quite sure everything would have worked out in the end. In fact, I know my child well enough to know the decibel level her vocal chords can give. The girl's got spunk. We would've found each other. Guarantee it, Cruella.

Onwards and upwards.

After dodging a few incidental purchases, including a box of Geronimo Stilton books and a dangerously fast go-Kart that Littlest One found after "The Separation Mishap," I was fully unable to avoid steering my over-loaded van directly towards the Bulk Barn parking lot. No other place on the planet can you get a little bag of what mostly consists of dry Shreddies and popcorn, with a few other little chocolate pieces thrown in for good measure, and it ends up costing you 26 smack-a-roos. I wish I had the stomach of a cow because at least then it would be worth something to me later.

Seriously. No where else can one purchase a few Smarties for Christmas cookies and end up cutting into their retirement savings. But I do admit. You gotta love the candy. It buys time, love and a few priceless moments of worthwhile pleasure. Until someone doesn't share said candy and you feel like throwing it all out the window and demanding a refund.

Needless to say, online shopping is looking pretty good this year. And if I've learned anything from past experience, I do know this: I have never lost a child yet while surfing online sale flyers. Although I am sure with my luck, something else could happen. The computer could always crash. My budget get completely blown on must-have clearance items. Or worse. My kids could catch me shopping by way of a tab still open on my desk-top. I just can't win when it comes to shopping.

That's why I've decided to give in and join the gong show anyway. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. So, see you at the mall this weekend. I'll be the mama with her hands full of kidlets and her cart chock full of Christmas purchases, neatly disguised under a pile of children's winter coats, scarves and mitts.

And as long as temperatures stay above freezing and I find a parking spot for the van close to the exits, it will be all good.

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