An ACT of MADNESS

2012-12-26 05.17.19When I first heard about this tradition I was shocked! Then I shook my head in disbelief: “You guys can’t be serious! You will actually go shopping on Boxing Day? Good Lord, this is too crazy for me!”
My second thoughts were somewhat different: “Why not? I should go too, just for the experience.”
At least I will have my opinion (i.e. bitching about it) based on real life experience. There will always be a next year to go back to the tried and tested German tradition of drinking, eating and be merry!

The story goes, various shops will offer their first 50 or so customers a gift or at least discount vouchers. These words worked magic on our boys and three out of the four decided to join me on this unholy event.

Oh what a joy to get up at 4am, to arrive at the mall by 5am, to stand in line – outside in the cold- for an hour and finally walk through the doors into the holy grail of electronic stores!

All this for what? Personally, I don’t care about and need any more electronic devices in my life (I am happy I know how to operate the ones which already live with me)! Electronics are my least favourable item to shop for – and no, they NEVER promissed gifts either, only unbeatable prices on flat screen TV’s.

I did it for our middle son! He had his mind firmly set on ‘beats’ headphones. But fortunately he came to his senses when he saw the discounted price of $ 250.00 was still not discounted enough.

In the time span of three hours we lost each other at least five times, we got pushed around and stood in line for hours to pay for our bargains. The boys were so hyped they needed a greasy McBreakfast to concentrate on their next purchases again.

Shopping on a budget offers a real insight into the future spending habits of children:
– Our teenager knows what makes the world go round and what stimulates any economy. He would pass any Immigration spending requirements in a heart beat ( he spent it all!).
– Our Korean exchange student displayed a magnificent talent for bargain hunting. He found the best possible deals for his desired objests and brought back over half his money.
– Our middle son doesn’t have the insight knowledge of his teenage brother yet, nor does he have the patience and mastermind of his foreign ‘brother’. He is a simple soul with a one track mind: It has to be ‘beats’or nothing. He will only rest when he finds the right set at the right price. Needless to say, he didn’r buy anything!

And I? In the name of experience I sacrificed my much needed beauty sleep and ruined most of my waking hours to accumulate savings of $30.00 for these two beauties:

2012-12-27 15.53.59

It is not extra-ordinary to have our own traditions in life – what is extra-ordinary is to stick to these traditions regardless of the country you find yourself in.
Believe me, sometimes it is ok NOT to go with the flow. Next year on Boxing Day I will be back to eating, drinking and reading a Jackie Collins book while slouching on the sofa!

Advertisements

FAMILY REUNION

Since the beginning of September we are the proud parents of our fourth boy and our children are the proud brothers to a brother from a different mother and father. I am talking about Joey, our Korean exchange student who will live with us for the next 10 months. If this wasn’t enough to adapt to, my parents from Germany arrived at roughly the same time for their first ever visit to Canada.

This is what you need to know about these two grey, but still highly active grandparents:

My father speaks basic English only, my mom speaks none. My husband speaks only English and with my parents limited English skills the three of them form a harmonious trio. I often wonder why my parents haven’t taken a language course at Community College!  Let’s hear the logical reason from my mom:”Why doesn’t Dominic (aka husband) learn German instead?”

My Dad conveniently forgot his driving licence for this trip, my mom doesn’t drive at all. They brought a Vancouver travel guide, but so far forgot to open it.

Therefore, I am the chosen tour guide. For the last two weeks Mrs. Google and Mr. Tom-Tom have been my closest friends – together we navigate the big unknown!

My parents are still young enough, very active, healthy enough and like going places. My mom is right when she says: “We didn’t come all this way just to sit at home.”

Needless to say, life as I know it has come to a standstill. I don’t know about you, but with my parents to visit I am doing things I normally wouldn’t consider doing – like sitting in the BIG RED TOUR Bus, exploring the sights in Vancouver.  But I must admit, sitting on top of the bus was an eye opener. Now I know that Vancouver is not big, not old, not historic, but its beauty comes from its location: The scenery is mind boggling wherever you look!

On Granville Island Dad was magically drawn to the Kaiserhaus Bratwurst und Sauerkraut. But surprisingly he opted for the sweet sour Chinese noodles instead. He recognized the dish from his Chinese restaurant back in Germany. My German Mom, the more adventurous part of the duo, opted for French Crepes (?) instead.

I also persuaded them to go on a beautiful bike ride along the river dykes in our neighbourhood. This round trip normally takes me three hours, but with my active 60 plus bikers in tow it took us nearly six hours! I must hand it to my mom: after cycling during the immense lunch time heat, after giving her German buns a grilling workout and her hard assed daughter only allowing one pit stop, I only heard her complain once! Aren’t they amazing? I am exhausted, I don’t get things done, and our children have to walk home from school alone because I am so preoccupied with their grandparents.

The only ongoing complaints about their trip are the ridiculously high prices for alcohol. This German couple can’t refuel on coffee and hot chocolate alone! And when they finally find a pub they get a near heart attack when they receive the bill for two pints of beer: $16.00! With this fatal beer experience they figured: “We could have gone to Scandinavia instead – drinks are as expensive there, but we are much closer to home!” Of course they are kidding, they won’t find their grandchildren there!

After two weeks of non-stop action I finally followed Dominic’s advice: I will put them on the train with the city map in my father’s hand.  Mom remembers the one place closest to her heart: Robson Street!  A happy place for strolling shopaholics!

On this note I will raise my glass to my very extra-ordinary parents who have their flaws, their die-hard habits and who can drive me crazy to say the least!  But they are my parents, I feel very blessed to have them- and I love them for who they are.