I’m not much of a shopper. No, let me be clearer: I really hate shopping. I have traditionally left my Christmas shopping to the last minute or used Taobao exclusively. That’s why a Christmas bazaar in my neighbourhood caught my eye. I told myself that maybe this year would be the year for homemade gifts by local artists.
The event was very well attended with baked goods, activity tables for the kids and vendors all around the outside edges of two large upstairs rooms as well as the front lobby. Tables were filled with Christmas ornaments, home-stitched fancy kids’ wear, organic cosmetics and hand-drawn greetings cards. There was even a booth featuring Erica Chen’s artwork—beautifully sensitive ink stippling images of personified animals with attitude—and the artist was in attendance! What an enormous talent living among us in Beijing!
However, the problem with most of the items, for me, was the cost. Perhaps the other parents in attendance were the same parents who can afford to send their kids to 3e? Then again, after tuition fees, how could they possibly have any money leftover for the Christmas bazaar? (Cue the poorly-concealed envy!)
But cost aside, I have to hand it to the organizers: they know kids. My two little monkeys were thrilled by the activity tables. It was such a smart idea to have these situated in the center of each large room making it possible for parents to circle the event while still keeping their monkeys in sight. I would certainly return next year if for nothing else than the free childcare for a few moments on a Saturday morning!
Nevertheless, Taobao is still going to be my Christmas shopping saviour this year. No more leaving the air-filtered house to buy gifts. We’ll stay holed up and waiting for the skies to clear. Ho Ho Ho!
Photos: Ember Swift