Saturday, December 08, 2007

A Holiday Tradition

Did my annual Christmas shopping trip with my old friend from college Amanda today. It was something we started in my second year at school and her first. We used to go shopping together all the time, and we had such a good time shopping the first Christmas we did it, we've done it every year since, probably about seven years now.

For the last two years, we've opted for the Deptford Mall, about a half-hour from here and about 45 minutes from Vineland, where Amanda lives. The Deptford Mall area is a lot like the Hamilton/Consumer's Square Mall area near Stockton College. There's the main mall...and lots of shopping centers and large free-standing stores AROUND the mall, so we have plenty of choices.

Saturday was probably a bad day to go Christmas shopping. I picked today because I figured Amanda, a substitute teacher, would be off school, and it was probably the last time I'd be able to ask for a weekend before Christmas. Turns out Amanda has a second job at a Bob Evans near her house and had to beg for the day off, and the traffic and the crowds in the mall were insane. (The busses were almost a half-hour late both ways. I was late meeting Amanda at the main mall!)

We did have a mostly enjoyable day, even with the traffic. The mall was crazy when we were there, but we both did some shopping. I found an actual WebKinz store. I bought one for a present, but was a good girl and didn't buy anything for myself. I bought presents for Mom and Anny at Bath and Body Works. (I'm just glad neither of us have kids. As Ralphie put it in A Christmas Story, "The line to see Santa Claus stretched all the way to Terra Haute!")

We had lunch at Ruby Tuesday's, as we did last year. Amanda doesn't have much of an appetite and I'm still on a diet, so we both had two mini-burgers and a salad bar that filled us up just fine. We opened our Christmas presents between courses. She gave me the cutest "Misfit Toys" Rudolph and the Red Nosed Reindeer ornament and a little white polar bear stuffed teddy that jingles. I gave her a candle in a jar that smelled like spice cookies and a Beanie Baby cat for her birthday back in early October.

We browsed the mall a little more, and I stopped at the Gourmet Chef and got Uncle Ken's gift. By that point, we'd both had enough of the crowds and loony lines at the mall. We left Amanda's car at the mall's parking lot and went across the street to Barnes and Noble on foot.

Barnes and Noble is part of a newer shopping center and is a much larger store, so while it was busy, you could move around in it and the lines weren't nearly as bad. I didn't get anything but some Caramel Apple Cider. Amanda got a Peppermint Mocha Latte. She was looking for a specific ballet book (Amanda takes ballet classes, and has since college), but couldn't find it in the disorganized store.

The free-standing Best Buy down the street yielded more for both of us. I was surprised to see that it was busy, but no more or less so than any other time of the year; we must have hit it just right. I got my sister Rose and stepfather's gifts, and Amanda bought Christmas CDs.

It was getting dark at that point. Amanda left to try to get back to Vineland before the sun vanished completely, and I headed to Target. In addition to getting my "teenager" gifts (for my brother Keefe and stepsister Jessa) and finishing Anny's gift, I finally found some Peeps Cutouts, gingerbread cookie-shaped, sugar cookie-flavored Peeps. They taste sweet and a little buttery, and they're the best Peeps ever. I couldn't find them ANYWHERE last year, and I haven't seen them anywhere besides Target this year.

This finishes most of my Christmas shopping; I only have a few minor items left to pick up. I'll start my wrapping tomorrow and will do cards this week.

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