For starters we had to go see the local bureaucrats. Now on a scale of one to ten, going to see the bureaucrats is a big gritting my teeth and pretending there aren't half million things that could more usefully occupy my time.
But we did, and the bureaucrats told us to come back because the paperwork wasn't quite correct, and so an hour and a half in which we might have solved world hunger went begging.
After that we ran a chore for Mrs Speech. She had to get some scripture references printed up for the awesome Jesse Tree Ornaments she is selling. We found some classy, gloss paper, thick too and printed up a bunch.
The place we printed them up is technically within the same complex as our local mall but sits on the other side of the carpark. So, we hiked back and
Well, Mrs Speech sat. I stood in line. After the bureaucrats I didn't want to see any more lines. I hope there aren't any lines again for the rest of my life.
I also bought Mrs Speech a cookie. Her mood picked up. When in doubt, buy the cookie.
These days I love it because since becoming a Christian I more fully understand its meaning; the joy of Christ's birth is no longer a mystery. What is a mystery is how presents were once the only thing of meaning this time of year. Nowadays July isn't gone before I start longing for the carols and the mall decorations and the lights on people's houses and even the dumb commercials satirising Santa.
I can't wait, because two thousand years ago, a rustic town in the middle of a scrappy backwater Roman province saw the birth of a baby who makes all things new. And Christmas time makes it easier to focus on that, I think.
I get that the shops only elevate Christmas in order to extract more money from us. I don't care. They have their reasons. The saviour endures regardless.
We wandered through David Jones, which is one of those places. It has a small-ish section set aside for their $21.95 baubels and their $299.95 wreaths.
"I'll have one wreath please. And no Christmas presents at all this year."
suggested we buy new Christmas lights this year.
We usually come late to the party with Christmas lights. The ones we have are thirty years old and although I like them Mrs Speech...doesn't. But, by the time we get around to checking out new strings, all the good-value ones have been snapped up by folks who don't spend September to early December debating whether or not the lights we have are adequate. By that time I steadfastly decline to spend thirty dollars on lights.
We got some ten dollar ones and Mrs Speech was happy.
I like wandering through Big W. Mrs Speech always calls it Wal-Mart (must be the W) but I've been in Wal-Mart and Big W is a bit nicer. Plus, Mrs Speech once found a pink blender that I'm still kicking myself for not lay-bying for Christmas. It's not around anymore.
Also Big W has a huge range of lollies (candy). Aisles and aisles and massive jars of Nutella, too. Smack-bang at the front of the store, sweet sentinels of chocolatey goodness (badness?) daring you to pass.
Just TRY to get through to toys and electronics. See? You CAN'T!!!
as I said, I have WILL. Sort of. Somewhat. Kind of.
A little later on we passed the little shop in the middle of the mall concourse, which sells foreign lollies. English and American. The prices are criminal but once or twice a year for a treat........you know how it is.
Mrs Speech found American breakfast cereal there and almost wept from nostalgia. She hurried past me to take pictures.
I soon sensed Mrs Speech was gonna need some refreshment so I bought her a hot chocolate at Gloria Jean's. They make good stuff. One day we made the mistake of going to the Coffee Club which is where the senior citizens prefer to hang out. I felt like I was at someone's bi-weekly bridge game with bad hot chocolate.
Gloria Jean's is dark, exotic, with moody cosmetic touches that make you feel like part of the in-crowd. But you better have a tablet and be browsing on their free wi-fi and know the difference between Columbian and Mocha Colombiana or for goodness sake, GET OUT!
We capped the day off with a ritual visit to JB Hi-Fi (my favourite electronics store) and some grocery shopping. At which point I noticed that my feet were destroyed.
Never understood how that works...you go to the mall to relax, walk around a little and by the end of four hours your feet hurt. How's that?
Maybe it's the flip-flops I wear.