As I have already said: women shop, men make purchases. Though you can hardly make purchases at Christmas time. With ten grandchildren you need the very last drop of your imagination. Every Christmas we say that only kids are getting presents this year, but of course I want to give something to their parents as well. And the parents are not cooperative when it comes to their kids' wish lists (or their own for that matter). This year I only got two wishes. One was easy, a very specific book, which is a pleasure to purchase, marching right toward the relevant shelf. The other was a toy mobile, preferably not a very noisy one, and that needed some shopping and even assistance. "Boy or girl?" the shop assistant asked. I said it didn't matter which I guess made him offended. The label on the box indicates "Parent-friendly features" which I hope means that you can switch off the sound.
That done, I look desperately around for some great gift ideas (that's what the shops advertize: "Great gift ideas"). Apart from Christmas gifts, I need two birthday gifts. Naturally, everybody expects something very original and English. But how am I to know what is original and English and isn't available in any department store in Stockholm? Tea mugs saying "Greetings from Cambridge"? That's always the last solution. There are lots of books and games, but they are wasted on small kids who cannot read English. The older kids can. Oh that boring Granny, always coming with her silly books... Another shop assistant gives me a compassionate look. "Haven't they written their wish lists?" and "You may try Cambridge Toy Shop". Another doll? Another teddy bear? By the way, Borders gave a large teddy bear for every £25 spent in the shop. I only came home with two. I bought some books for myself and a CD with carols sung by King's Choir (not a chance to hear them live!).
Baby and children's clothes are fun to buy, but they are also appreciated by parents more than kids. Oh that boring Granny with her silly sweaters. At least a piece of clothing always come useful. "Boys or girls? For boys, our most popular colours are..." I feel like a real shopper. Bother, how old are those kids? What size are they?
Well at home, I look at the pile and realize that I will need to leave most of my own clothes behind if I don't want to pay a fortune for excess luggage.