Brown paper packages

Posted December 13th, 2005 by Penny Wise

Going Christmas shopping with my mother at the weekend was just hilarious. I'm not known for my decision making skills at the best of times, but whereas in the old days I used to rush around the department stores like a woman possessed, loading my trolley with whatever I could get my hands on, Mum was disturbed to find this year that Christmas shopping with her daughter has become a thoughtful and lengthy process. 'But will they play with it?' 'Where would I put it?' 'We don't really need it, do we?' I umm'ed and ahh'ed my way down the aisles. 'You've turned into a real miser!' Mum scolded accusingly, unaware that she had just bestowed a huge compliment on me.

Undeterred, I trailed around the Warehouse, scrutinizing everything until even Mum found herself joining in. 'That's a nice Christmassy platter isn't it? Don't see why you can't stick mince pies on a normal plate though' and on spotting the electric popcorn maker we both scoffed, 'Pah! What's wrong with making it in a pot on the stove?' until Mum realized what she was doing 'Oh no! Your miserly ways are catching!' she giggled.

The last straw for Mum though was over the Christmas paper. I had decided to do away with buying the usual roll upon roll of Christmas wrapping paper this year, which really mounts up and only gets thrown away. Instead I was looking forward to getting creative with some crafty ideas from the Savings Vault instead. 'There's some cheap packs of Christmas paper', Mum pointed out. 'Nah, you can see right through that!' I said. 'I'm going to get some plain rolls of paper for $2.00 from the Post Office instead. One roll should do just about everything. All I need is to find a little festive rubber stamp to jazz them up!' I trotted off to the craft section, feeling very pleased with myself and excited about my little project. 'You can't be serious!' Mum fell about laughing, as she helped me pick out a dinky rubber stamp with a Christmas tree and a green ink pad. 'Tell you what, I'll just save you the trouble and paint on some sheets of newspaper instead', she continued, still shaking with laughter.

I couldn't help chuckling too, 'But Mum, it'll be fun! Besides, it only gets thrown away doesn't it? The kids can help'. 'I just don't understand you', Mum went on. 'All the years you really didn't have any money and you never had a problem with buying proper wrapping paper then, now look at you? Finally getting some money behind you and you want to give everyone presents wrapped up in brown paper? Imagine what that will look like under the tree!' she collapsed into giggles again. 'Tut - anything for a quiet life!' I laughed and stuffed some rolls of Christmas paper into my trolley. But you know what? When I reached the check-out, I couldn't do it. Why should I feel pressured into buying something I just don't want, I thought? So with Mum blissfully unaware at the next till, I surreptitiously stashed all those rolls next to the lolly stand at the counter and I felt much better for it! I also sent back two pairs of pyjamas that the boys didn't really need, that I had almost spent $50 on, just because they had Spongebob Squarepants on.

The rest of the shop went without incident. Some of the stores had a huge sale on and we managed to maneouvre our wonky trolley around long enough to take advantage of specials on all kinds of things up to as much as 60% off. I was careful to buy only the things I knew I already needed though, no impulse buys for this chick any more! I can't wait to see Mum's face on Christmas Day when she sees her gifts from me wrapped in painted newspaper - I have a funny feeling she'll be doing the same to me as well. Mind you, it's reassuring to know that she doesn't think all my ideas are bad - she's been watching me whip up some lovely meals from my menu plan over the last few weeks and while out on our shopping spree, she grabbed a Destitute Gourmet book of her own!

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