Mall Alone: Survive your Christmas shopping

Christmas shopping

Every year, you swear that next year you won’t wait until the last minute to do your Christmas shopping.  Well, it’s the last week of November and the mall is already a crazy place, so here’s how to do all your shopping in one day and be done with it.

Come on, you can do this.


3:30pm – You planned on getting there early but you ended up binge-watching more episodes of your favorite show than you’d be willing to admit and then had an unplanned nap.

First of all, go to Starbucks and get a coffee, you’ll need it. Of course you’ll pay $6 for that comfort in a cup, but you’re going to be pushed around, ignored, and hot for at least a couple of hours so you may as well treat yourself. Just spend $6 less on your least favorite family member. Plus, now that you have one hand busy carrying your cup you won’t be able to carry too many bags so you’ll end up buying fewer things. You’re welcome.

3:57pm – You’re apparently not the only one who needs coffee and the barista is at the end of an 8-hour shift. You’ve lost 27 minutes but all you can think of is the taste of that candy cane drink in your mouth so you’re OK with it.

Now you have to strategize. You can either wander around and enter stores randomly looking for ideas, or head to Target or the biggest department store in the mall and do all your shopping there. I know this might sound like a good plan and a quick way to be done, but your relatives will probably figure it out and you can expect judgmental looks on Christmas morning and crappy gifts next year. So be nice, put a little effort into it and get ready to walk around the mall. Several times.

5:22pm – You’ve memorized the layout of the mall and you’re on a first-name basis with most shop-assistants.

You’ve been walking for almost an hour and a half now; you’ve done all the usuals(The Gap, Chapters, Sportscheck, The BodyShop, Sephora…) and found many presents. It’s time to reward yourself. No, not by buying something for you; given what you’ve spent for others you’ll have to wait for Christmas morning to get new things. I’m talking about a trip to the food court. How could you turn down the opportunity to spent 30 minutes in a loud overcrowded area and eat some questionable food? Plus, it is the best place to watch people. And if you’re not into people-judging, sorry, I meant people-watching, you can always stream your favorite show on your phone while regretting saying “Yes” when the guy asked you if you wanted to “Poutine your fries”.

6:58 – You’ve been here a lot longer than you thought you would and you refuse to stay after 7pm. You just want to go home and have some eggnog.

You’re almost done, all you need now is a gift for Dad. Don’t worry, it’s the same for everybody, they’re impossible to shop for. If you really think about it, deep down you always knew you wouldn’t find something for him here. Even if you didn’t want to believe it, you knew you’d have to go where everyone else shops for Dad. I know, I know, it’s not as fun as the mall and it has that weird smell but you’ll find what you need there (or at least something Dad can exchange for something he really wants). And you have all that colorful fake money in your wallet so you’ll probably be able to save $1.85 on the gift. That’s right, you need to leave the mall and go to Canadian Tire.

8:10 – YOU MADE IT! You. Are. Done. You survived and convinced yourself that what you bought was exactly what people want. Just joking, I’m sure you did a good job. Oh, by the way, did you remember to get stocking stuffers? Don’t worry, you can always get some random things at the cashregister next time you go grocery shopping.

On your way home stop at the liquor store and get some rum to put in your eggnog, you deserve it.

Five years

Five years. Today is the fifth anniversary of my moving to Canada. When I got on that plane to Halifax, I had no idea what would happen and how long I would stay in Canada.

In my family, when people move abroad it usually lasts for 4 and a half years. My mom lived for 4 and a half years in Pittsburgh when she was a kid, and I lived for 4 and a half years in Tunisia as a child. So 6 months ago, I was kind of waiting for a supernatural force to send me back to France. But I’m still here, and I’m still enjoying it. Probably because in the past five years I’ve done things I had never done before (not that you can’t do them somewhere else):

I perfected my English, tried waterskiing, “went to the cottage”, had real Fish & Chips, defended France even when I knew it didn’t make sense, drank Jägermeister, went to an NHL game, barbequed on Christmas day, ate lobster, ran a marathon, took a ferry to go home from work, ate 32 chicken wings for dinner, visited awesome cities (Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa), went skiing in Maine,  drove 15 hours straight in the same country, got addicted to Caesars, watched an entire game of curling, missed my family and friends like never before, finally bought a 42-inch tv, almost got eaten alive by mosquitoes, cut down my own Christmas tree, grew a mustache, went whale watching, became a permanent resident of Canada, got a great job and got married.


The past 5 years have been so important not only because I’ve been doing what I’ve always wanted: living abroad – more specifically in North America – but also because they marked the transition between 25-ish to 30-year old-ish-me. And I am really happy it happened here.



Cinq ans. Aujourd’hui est le cinquième anniversaire de mon déménagement au Canada. Quand je suis monté dans l’avion pour Halifax, je n’avais aucune idée de ce qui allait se passer et de combien de temps je resterais au Canada.

Dans ma famille, quand on déménage à l’étranger ça dure en général  4 ans et demi. Ma mère a habité pendant 4 ans et demi à Pittsburgh quand elle était enfant et j’ai habité pendant 4 ans et demi en Tunisie avec mes parents quand j’étais petit. Alors il y a six mois, je m’attendais un peu à ce qu’un phénomène surnaturel me renvoie en France. Mais je suis toujours ici et je m’y plais toujours. Probablement parce que pendant ces cinq dernières années j’ai fait beaucoup de choses que je n’avais jamais faites avant (non pas que ce soit impossible de les faire ailleurs):

J’ai perfectionné mon anglais, essayé le ski nautique, suis “allé au cottage” (ou “au chalet” pour les canadiens francophones), mangé un vrai Fish & Chips, défendu la France même quand je savais que j’avais tort, bu du Jägermeister, suis allé à un match de NHL, fait un barbecue le jour de Noël, mangé du homard, couru un marathon, pris le bateau pour rentrer du travail, mangé 32 ailes de poulet pour le dîner, visité des super villes (Québec, Montréal, Ottawa), fait du ski dans le Maine, conduit 15 heures d’affilé dans le même pays, suis devenu accro aux Caesars, regardé un match de curling en entier, ma famille et mes amis m’ont manqué comme jamais, je me suis finalement acheté la télé que je voulais, me suis presque fait dévorer vivant par des moustiques, coupé moi-même mon sapin de Noël, porté la moustache, vu des baleines, obtenu un travail que j’adore, suis devenu résident permanent du Canada et me suis marié.


Les cinq dernières années ont été si importantes non-seulement parce je fais ce que j’ai toujours voulu faire: habiter à l’étranger – plus particulièrement en Amérique du Nord – mais aussi parce qu’elles ont marqué la transition entre mon moi de 25 ans et moi moi de 30 ans (à peu de chose près). Et je suis vraiment content qu’elle se soit faite ici.