Monday, 3 December 2012

Christmas shopping-it's a bit different

What do you get for the man who has everything he wants? Ah, that age-old problem many of us women suffer from. Why is it men are so hard to buy for? Sometimes it’s because they have more money than women and can therefore afford to buy for themselves what they want throughout the year. Sometimes it’s because they have a limited number of interests. The older men get the more difficult the task of finding a Christmas or birthday present. 

Last weekend Jean-Claude and I travelled to a major commercial centre to find presents for each other. I think I’m easy to buy for, there are so many things I NEED let alone want but JC tends to want to do the shopping WITH me.  Many French men like to go shopping with their women and this is unusual for a Kiwi woman to experience because in my experience Kiwi men hate shopping, even when it’s for them. The cultural priorities might be a clue. 

In France, how things look is very important. Things must be as well presented as possible. People must be as attractive as possible. Therefore the men want their women to look good and they also have opinions on what makes them look good. JC wants me to look young, as young as possible. Aha, I hear you say. I pointed out to JC he’s not young. He may feel young, he may be well-preserved for his age but he is NOT young so why all this pressure on me to look young? It’s getting very hard to look Young now and each day I am constantly reminded that my physical abilities are deteriorating and my limitations expand. There’s a lot of societal pressure put on us to stay young-whatever that is. Oh 60 is the new 40? 
That aside, I do try to look as presentable as I can afford and manage, so the results are modest. JC likes to shop with women in Printemps. This is an upmarket store with big brand names. I usually feel very uncomfortable there because I can’t afford to shop there and it’s torturous looking at stuff that’s nice but way out of my league. It’s also French and I’m still not used to the differences in modes of dress and style. The difference isn’t tangibly huge but it’s there-just out of my ability to describe it. It reminds me that I’m not integrated into that echelon of France. My pay would need to double or triple for that.

So JC starts at Printemps because he’s got a card there and can sometimes get reductions. Fighting my discomfort I gave in and looked about, really looked about in case I could find something of interest. As usual I couldn’t find anything by a cursory look.  JC kept asking questions and doing some looking for me so I had to interact. He has good taste. He likes women dressing to show off their figures and he knows what types of clothes do that with taste. He was useful to learn from and a good moral support.

Me being practical, I didn’t even bother with the bags section. I have a bag. What do I need another one for when I really need oven gloves, a printer, a GPS…. But we were obviously here for womanly things. 
Something warm was one of the things I needed, so we looked at coats and jackets. I still have my 50 euros coat that the French gangster picked out for me and which I paid for back in 2010. It’s warm but picks up every bit of dust and lint and looks disgustingly dirty much of the time.

 JC constantly encouraged me to try things on. This was useful so it got me over my reluctance to try on things I couldn’t afford. I’m not usually comfortable with JC spending much money on me because I can’t reciprocate. I love cool things, expensive things. My eyes and good taste are constantly drawn to them but he’s not made of money and he’s retired so I’m not about to abuse his kindness.
Having explored the whole shop we’d narrowed it down to a jacket. I needed to choose between three of them, all somewhat different. In the end I chose something bold, colourful to brighten the gloomy French winters and also useful for cool spring and autumn days rather than wintery snow. Armani.  JC decided he’d rather I had a month’s use out of it instead of keeping it for Christmas Day so next weekend I’ll model it for him and enjoy the fun and warmth. A true luxury.

We moved on to shopping for him which wasn’t nearly as interesting or satisfying but the deed is done. Laura’s present is on its way to New Zealand, my shopping is complete. There’s just the Christmas newsletter to produce now.

Photos show images of this year's Christmas offerings.


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