I got up earlier than usual today. I wanted to get to the mall before it got really busy. Ran It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown while eating a quick breakfast. I have a soft spot for this later Peanuts holiday special from the late 80's. Unlike Charlie Brown Christmas, this is pretty much just a series of skits revolving around the kids and their Christmas adventures. My favorite moments belong to Peppermint Patty and Marcie as they avoid schoolwork and attend Handel's Messiah, and Sally's attempts to memorize her lines for the school pageant.
Headed out around 9:30 to catch the 9:47 to Cherry Hill. It was a beautiful day for shopping. The sun was out, the sky was blue, and it was breezy and a bit chilly, but nothing abnormal for this time of year. I stopped at WaWa for a coffee drink really quick and to make change, then rode down to the former Camden Restaurant Supply Store, parked my bike, and went across the White Horse Pike to pick up the bus. It arrived around ten minutes late, not too bad for the tail end of the morning rush hour. There was no traffic and no problems once I got on. I got into the mall around 10:30.
Spent the first hour walking around the mall. I explored A Christmas To Remember, a temporary seasonal store specializing in ornaments. They had tons of many different ornaments and Christmas decorations (though I kind of wish their sports selection was a little more varied). I did end up getting presents for Lauren and her parents and Dad and Jodie. Browsed in Build-A-Bear, Bath and Body Works, the Lego Store, and the Disney Store. Ultimately decided the toy and soap prices would be better at Target. (And the crowd at the Disney Store was a pain. The place was mobbed, despite the relatively early hour. I did get to admire their new Disney Animator's Collection dolls, though, including the second boy in the line, an adorably cheeky little Aladdin.)
Made my way to Nordstrom's next, then out the door and over the pedestrian bridge to the shopping center across the street. I took a look at Kohl's, hoping to find some nice novelty socks or winter accessories for my stepsister Jessa. They were in even worse shape than the Disney Store! There was only one register open, and the line was half-way across the store. I finally decided the sales weren't worth the wait and went to lunch early instead.
The Silver Diner was far less busy, surprising for 11:30. It was so quiet, I actually got to hear my jukebox selection this time. They didn't have any Christmas music on the jukebox, so I went with the Four Seasons hit "December '63 (Oh What a Night)." (Hey, it mentions December in the title, right?) I had the salad and sandwich lunch again, an enormous Turkey Club on white bread and a side salad. That Turkey Club was HUGE, falling over with slices of real turkey and crispy bacon and tomatoes and lettuce. It was perfectly yummy and filling.
Went right to Target after lunch. They were also very busy for the lunch hour. I roamed around for a while, checking out the prices and the sales. The toy section was almost as bad as the Disney Store. I did manage to get around people long enough to pick up Lego sets for my nephews Skylar and Collyn, a cute Fisher Price princess doll that jingles for my baby niece Lilah, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles playing cards for my youngest nephew Khai. Grabbed two sets of striped socks on sale for Jessa to wear to work.
Target always has the best seasonal sections. They have everything from unusual cake mixes to candies exclusive to them. Candy was the last thing on my mind, but they did have my favorite Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cookie Mix, which I hadn't seen anywhere else. Also grabbed Betty Crocker triple chocolate fudge cake mix for a dollar, a dollar bin magnetic list pad (I ran out a while ago), a cheap bottle of generic milk and honey hand soap, and two small gift bags for the ornaments.
The only really big thing I bought myself was the Warner Bros 50th Anniversary DVD of A Charlie Brown Christmas. My original Paramount DVD is almost a decade old and has gotten pretty scratched up over the years. I thought it was time for an upgrade.
The crowds were so heavy at Target, it was past 2 PM when I finally got back over the pedestrian bridge and to the main mall. I needed something to drink and to cool off. Had a quick fancy Chai at Teavana, then strolled down to the food court. Since I enjoyed the last Blizzard I had at Cherry Hill's Dairy Queen, I thought I'd try their flavor of the month, Peppermint Oreo. It was crushed candy canes and Oreo cookies in vanilla ice cream. Yuuumm. Creamy and crunchy, with loads of mint and chocolate flavor. It really hit the spot after all the hiking around.
Since I had an hour before the 3:45 bus arrived, I took a look at a few more stores. I had peeked at GameStop and Jay Street Video Games when I arrived, hoping to find the Amiibos (figures used with the Nintendo Wii U) Lauren wanted. GameStop had one, but not the other. Jay Street just had older games. They didn't have anything she didn't already have at Target. I'll get what she wants at the big GameStop in Westmont tomorrow.
Only had slightly better luck finishing out Jessa's package. JC Penney's sock sales weren't that great. I saw things I might get next month or in February, but nothing for Jess. The line at Old Navy was even more ridiculous than the one at Kohl's! I finally found her some cute socks and a novelty pen at the Payless Shoes across from Old Navy.
The 3:45 to Camden was on time. Though there was a little traffic on Cuthbert Road in Westmont and Cherry Hill, there were otherwise no major problems on the road. I was even able to help a woman and her toddler daughter who didn't know the area well get to WaWa after we got off.
As soon as I got home, I took out the trash. When I got back upstairs, I organized all the presents into a box for Anny and her kids, a box for Lauren and her parents, and a bag for Jessa, Khai, and any presents going to people living in this area. Opened the DVD and put away the remaining items.
Went into writing after I finished. I totally re-did the next sequence. Instead of taking them to Betty, I thought it made more sense for Mr. Eldridge to take his grandchildren to the Toyland Toy Factory, which he partially owns and runs. He's currently the only living owner. The other two original owners were lost at sea. Cheerful former pig thief Scott Piper is Mr. Eldridge's assistant and the second-in-command.
They go right to a meeting with nasty Mr. Barnaby, who turns out to be Mr. Pruitt. He wants to buy the factory from Mr. Eldridge. Nothing doing. Not only does the old man have too many memories connected to it, but it's Toyland's lifeblood. The whole community would be thrown into chaos if it shut down. Both Alan and Scott angrily defend the importance of Toyland and of toys in general to the unimpressed Barnaby.
Had leftovers for dinner, then made those Gingerbread Cookies while watching A Flinstone Christmas Carol. This is a surprisingly accurate version of the beloved Charles Dickens story. Fred Flinstone is appearing as Scrooge in a local play, but he's taking the role way too much to heart. He's so wrapped up in the role, he forgets to buy presents and pick Pebbles up at daycare and is driving an already-busy Wilma up the wall. It takes the usual ghosts - and a scare in a closed department store - to remind Fred of what really means the most to him.