We should have known.
When the wind was howling and the rain/wet snow was pelting the house, we should have figured that our shopping trip would be an adventure. Not that the trip was imperative, but we did need to go to the city. You see, we had ordered new glasses for Jake and needed to pick them up. The poor boy would have a permanently scrunched up face soon, from all his squinting to see the world around him. Also, we have a holiday tradition of driving around and looking at the pretty Christmas lights, especially in the more swanky neighborhoods. We always get a hot drink and drive through the neighborhoods with our Christmas music playing, so we can ooh, ahh, and drool over the pretty houses.
Besides that, we just HAD to go and brave the hoards of wild shoppers all out to conquer their retail prey. All 40,000 of them.
As we drove out to our usual shopping area, we were pelted first with sheets of rain, and then it began to snow. Really snow. That was our next clue. The screaming red flag, if you will. Deciding to prepare Jake for the inevitable, we had a little talk about what shopping was going to look like.
"Jake, we just want you to be prepared. The malls are going to be a zoo. There will be cranky shoppers, they will be rude and pushing and shoving. There will be annoying music blaring, and the perfume department will be rife with people wanting to spray you with nasty smelling samples. Line ups are going to be huge and we will be doing a lot of waiting. The traffic will be busy, and it will take a long time to find a parking spot. The best thing is to just breathe, relax, and realize that we are not in a hurry, we just need to go with the flow. That will keep you from getting anxious. And should something go wrong, it's not the end of the world. We will sort it out. Okay?"
At this Jake rolled his eyes and told me in 12 year old fashion I was being far too dramatic. Get over it Mom, I'm 12 now and I can handle all this. What do you think I am, four?
Not 10 minutes later and blocks from our shopper's paradise, Hub's brow began to furrow.
"Um...honey? Something is wrong."
The engine light began flashing merrily as Hubs wrestled with the steering wheel. There was suddenly no power. The lights, windshield wipers, and power steering were gone.
If you remember last year, we had trouble in the SAME area when we were Christmas shopping. Coincidence? Maybe. Jake and I decided that the car just is telling us how much it hates shopping. As the car limped from Wal-mart Auto Department to Canadian Tire, and then to a mall (while we searched for someone to look at it-today, please!), we pondered our options and Jake bit his fingernails with worry.
1. If the car thing is minor we could shop and still get home
2. If the car thing is moderate, then we could shop but may have to get it fixed in the city and it could cost a bit, but we may get the very last ferry home.
3. If the car thing is a big deal then we could be stuck overnight in the city, have to find a hotel and then postpone Jake's birthday party the next day until after Christmas. Not a bill we want to acquire, but we'd have no other option.
We decided to take our own advice and think positive. After all, we were at a mall, so why not do what we came to do? We bought toys for kids that aren't our own but Hubs wanted to spoil, stocking stuffers for each other, and even slogged across a busy parking lot and street through the slush to a favorite restaurant for lunch.
"Parking lot Slippery" announced a sign at the entrance. As if the foot of icy slush wasn't a clue already?
The mall was packed with hoards of shoppers, but it didn't seem to bother Jake (which is a miracle considering that years before he'd be hyperventilating). The music blared. We held our breath through the perfume departments. People pushed and shoved, the lines were long, and despite it all we held onto our cheerful dispositions. Which, if you know us, almost never happens when we're shopping. It was a Christmas miracle!
Maybe we were just trying not to think of what could be waiting for us back at the mechanic's shop.
Fortunately, the news was good; the repair was totally minor and we'd be on our way. Whew! High fives all around! Packages in the car, a stop at Starbucks for the road, and let's make a run for that ferry before we're left behind, people!
On the drive home, as we relished the quiet, we were gazing out the window at the full moon over the ocean when Hubs pointed out a house sparkling with Christmas lights and slowly, a thought dawned on all three of us. The main reason that we had gone to the city in the first place. The tradition that we have held dear for over 10 years, and that we have always said it's not Christmas without.
We had completely forgotten our Christmas light drive.