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In the trenches

Catalogue outside the Dick Smith Store
 Now there's the true spirit of Christmas, but I wonder whether we are sending our kids the right message?
Competetive shopping anyone?

Finally made it to Toyworld today but came back empty -handed. Apart from plush toys of which the littlest fairy has shiploads, there wasn’t much of a selection for the Under 1’s. I doubt that she will feel too put out. It was pretty scary though. A toy stroller there cost more than a real one and yesterday while I was looking in the educational toyshop, there was an iron and a microwave that cost more than the ones I use.

This is a TOY stroller for Heaven's sake!

Young fashion seems to be one of the few places doing a roaring trade

Most of the big stores were surprisingly quiet. Only one person was on the checkout in Target and only three people were in the queue, not at all like the riot scenes on Black Friday (after Thanksgiving) when all the sales start in the US. I understand there weren’t any casualties this year, only a couple of fights, but in 2008 a Walmart employee was killed in the rush, people were trampled and two were shot dead at Toys R Us. This year shoppers apparently brought pepper spray to keep rivals away from bargains.

Perhaps all stores should have government health warnings. SHOPPING COULD BE DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH. Certainly by the time things get this crazy we need strong remedial action along the lines of Reverend Billy and the Church of Life after Shopping. See a clip of his film  What would Jesus Buy? produced by Morgan Spurlock, who also made "Super Size Me"

Yesterday a friend took me to K- Mart, our local equivalent of Walmart, hoping to pick up a few slave labour items. I was expecting the worst, but things were surprisingly civilised. At the door we were met by two elves handing out delicious chunks of strawberry and mango which were very refreshing and the kids were taking to them with the same enthusiasm usually reserved for free lollies. We were also given chocolates by another elf inside - not just cheap house brand ones either. It was a nice touch. Best of all though, the aisles were practically empty, the staff was not yet frazzled and we only had to shove a few people out of the way to get to the toys. Even this was accomplished with much smiling and "No, you go firsts," as we had trolley encounters in these much narrower aisles.

In the mall, teenagers were blowing bubbles, a fiery violin quartet was playing rousing marches and a charity had set up a wrapping service. Several shops had kids' corners and a lonely band of carol singers were singing in the Cat and Fiddle Arcade. I'm not sure if I heard them right, but I think they may have been singing some alternative versions of traditional songs, unless someone knows a song about lying down in the road and being run over, which I am sure wasn' t in the original version. Bet they were just trying to see whether anyone was listening. People did look a little harried as they rushed past purposefully, but the mood was subdued and there was definitely a bit of Christmas Spirit around.
If you haven't done your Christmas shopping yet, Buzz for whom I am doing surveys to benefit An Ocean of Books has some inexpensive ideas and there are also a few in the brilliantly headlined article Dreaming of a Tight Christmas by Larissa Ham in Saturday's Age. Some of the best ideas come from readers and there are also some thoughtful comments.

One of the nice moments