Saturday, December 27, 2008

boxing day

I've always liked Boxing Day. The name, not the concept, because for years, I had no idea what it actually involved and its main appeal was that it was one of those exotic words and phrases like blancmange and rice pudding and Martinmas and Wednesday week that seemed to exist only in books about children who slipped in and out of magical worlds and were home before bedtime. In fact, if I'd given the matter any thought, I would have imagined the holiday's focus to be pugilistic rather than charitable.

But this Boxing Day, I found myself at a secondhand clothing store and thinking about Emily who wrote about making a commitment not to buy any brand new clothes for herself for the next year. Everything was on sale for $3.00 and the place was mobbed. Everyone was friendly and cheerful and one woman kept bringing me shirts and jeans that she thought would fit me. Still, as I stood in line, my arms filled with black cardigans and grey fleeces, waiting for my turn in the only changing room, there was something sobering about the fact that everyone seemed to be here and not, say, at the mall -- a sign of the times and of harder times to come.

15 comments:

thordora said...

It's a British thing-traditionally you box up the leftovers and give them to the help. :P Supposed to be a day for charity, but most people spend it shopping. Except here in NB-everything was closed yesterday.

We rarely buy new clothes, so I guess I'm ahead of the curve. :P

Merry Merry.

thirtysomething said...

Interesting. I never knew what Boxing Day actually meant.
Thrift stores are treasure-filled, if you have the time and patience to dig.
But I agree with you, there are harder times to come economically before it all gets better.
Happy Holidays!

Tash said...

I know a couple Brit transplants who still do boxing day here -- I think it's nice. I wish I felt up to something on the 26th.

It's going to be very interesting to see how '09 unfolds economically. I think you've really hit on something.

Antigone said...

Everything will be fine. Cheer up!

niobe said...

Antigone: I'm pretty sure that I'll be fine -- one way or another. But i know several people -- friends of friends, mostly -- who've lost or are about to lose their jobs and are having a really tough time financially.

Betty M said...

Most of the British did their traditional Boxing Day pursuit of shopping yesterday all assuming that the prices would be rock bottom as big store chains are going bankrupt in droves. We did our tradition of going to friends and eating warmed up turkey, drinking too much and walking to look at the allotment.

I think it will be in the next couple of months that things start looking grim here when real people (as opposed to bankers) without jobs realise that there are no more jobs to be had.

Molly said...

What on earth is Wednesday week?

niobe said...

Molly: "Wednesday week" is what non-Americans say when they mean what we mean when we say "next Wednesday."

Like: We're having a little party Wednesday week. Would you like to come?

It's funny. I've read so many books about England (and I do mean England, not the UK) and spent so little time there that when I was in London, it seemed extraordinary that there were all these places that actually, you know, existed.

Harley Street, Charing Cross, Pimlico, Westminster -- impossible to believe they weren't all purely fictional constructs.

Molly said...

Oh, duh. (Forehead meets keyboard.) I knew that! Gah! Apparently my brain is still recovering from being drowned in Christmas cheer.

I remember thinking the first time I went to London how magical the tube was. Also, Boots stores. I couldn't get enough of those. I was back only briefly 10 years ago-more of an adult than the first time at age 12- but I'd like to go back now to see exactly what you said, make sure it's all real.

wheelsonthebus said...

i have this hope that in ways like this, a bad economy will be good for the environment.

Carly said...

Worried down here in Australia too

x

B said...

My boxing day was spent body surfing beautiful long even breaks at Manly. Then tea and leftovers at my aunts, followed by a canoe trip with my nieces and dinner and a movie in the evening.

About as perfect as I could hope for......

niobe said...

B: The last time I went body surfing (back in early September), I didn't realize exactly how many little and not-so-little rocks, stones and pebbles had collected where the waves meet the shore. I ended up with two banged-up knees, one slightly bruised shin, but the only thing that was really painful was my sense of how stupid I'd been not to check first.

Your Boxing Day sounds wonderful.

Betty M: Ouch.....if people are out shopping because all the big chain stores are about to go belly-up, I'd definitely count that as a decidedly non-optimistic economic indicator.

painted maypole said...

it's funny... SO many of my clothes come from thrift stores and the like, but in the last year or so I've been buying more new than ever, because companies are finally making clothes LONGER and my tall frame looks even more awkward in the short secondhand stuff, so I'm stocking up on things that reach my ankles and wrists!

Smiling said...

I am now living in a former British colony and love the little British things that pop up (like Wednesday week).

As for thinking that places in books were fictional constructs, I thought Harvard was such a thing and then one day the Harvard Sq T stop was part of my daily commute. I think I thought it was the equivalent of Hogsworth. No one from my small town applied to, let alone attended, such places so it all seemed a bit fictitious to me. Plus authors rarely use where I'm from as a setting for their books. Good to know that I am not the only one who's done this.