Davina was up extra early on Saturday morning; she wanted to make sure she had done her chores (making her bed, tidying her bedroom, taking out the rubbish to the bin, scribbling notes for the next chapter in her first book, and things like that) so that she and Mum could have as much time as possible in town!
Not too much later, having scoffed down her breakfast in double-quick time, she was holding her Mum’s coat and bag, ready for the off! There was a rather long queue at the bus stop, and they didn’t get on the first bus. Oooooh! When would there be another one? Then another one came, and Davina and Mum squeezed on, Mum getting a seat, and Davina standing holding her Mum’s hands so that she would not fall.
Finally the bus arrived at the shopping centre, and Davina and Mum alighted with all the other passengers. Where to first?? Mum, of course, had her own list, as she too had to buy presents for Dad, Grandpa and Stuart, as well as Davina.
They had decided it would be better for Mum to get her shopping done first, then they could concentrate on Davina’s list, that way, they wouldn’t constantly be having to check who had bought what and so forth and so on! However, Davina was a bit annoyed when Mum went into the Garden Centre, and bought Dad……….you’ve guessed it!.....a large packet of assorted Spring bulbs!! Davina would have to rethink her list. Then, to add insult to injury, Mum bought Grandpa a lovely little music box – one with a ballerina inside, and when you opened the box, it played a pretty tune and the ballerina appeared to be dancing! Really beautiful, and Davina knew Grandpa would love it. Huh! Idea number two out the window! Then into a toy shop, where Mum bought Stuart a great board game – Snakes and Ladders on one side, and when you turned the board over, Monopoly on the other side, with all the trimmings – you know, houses, hotels, dice, men, cards etc. Aw no!!! Davina realised that (a) she could not have afforded these things, but (b) she now had no idea just what to buy!! Her mind, as the saying goes, went blank, and she plonked herself down on a bench seat beside an elderly lady, and groaned, while Mum happily went to look in a window with some lovely clothes which would look great on her!! Davina definitely could not afford to buy any of these clothes! Her £20, which earlier that day had seemed like a fortune, now looked miserable to buy five presents!
“What’s the matter, dear?” enquired the old lady, and Davina realised that it was Mrs. Franks, their next door neighbour! Davina told her all about her Christmas shopping list, and how Mum had bought much the same as Davina had wanted to, but better gifts, and more expensive, and now she (Davina) had no idea what to buy with her measly (her word, not mine!) £20. “Oh, I think you could manage quite well, dear,” said Mrs. Franks “£20 will buy you everything you need!” and she started suggesting other gifts which Davina might think about. This is what she said……………………
“Your Mum is such a busy person, always like you yourself, dear, helping others, and doing shopping for some of the elderly folk in our street, so how about one of these nice deep shopping baskets which are on wheels – I think they are called shopping trolleys? I saw one on the market stall which has been set up just as you come in to the shopping centre. It won’t cost too much, as they are selling what you call ‘end of line’ items – you know, things that won’t be manufactured any more!
“Who’s next on your list?” she asked. “My Dad!” Davina said. “I had been going to buy him a plant for the garden, but Mum has bought a huge box of bulbs!” “Ah,” said Mrs. Franks, “Your Dad! Now I have seen him quite happily sitting reading gardening magazines when he is working in the garden, and stops for a cup of tea. The gardening shop is sure to have something like that!” She smiled at Davina, who was busily amending her list with a stubby pencil.
“And now, who’s next on your list?” Davina looked down at her list. “My wee brother Stuart!” she said. “I was going to buy him a game, but Mum has bought this fabulous board game which is double-sided, and you can play not just one, but two games on it!” “Ah,” said Mrs. Franks. “Let me have a wee think about that!” and she looked around at the various shops.
After a bit, and a couple of twirls round to see what shops there were, she smiled again. “I know just the thing!” she said. “Look over there!” and Davina did. Mrs. Franks seemed to be pointing to a shop which sold music! Music?? But what would be the point in buying music? Oh yes, Stuart played in the wee school orchestra, but all the music was at the school – he didn’t need to buy anything, and besides, the other members of the orchestra would need the music too………but Mrs. Franks again smiled and shook her head. “No, no, dear, not actual sheet music! Look, there’s a mouth organ sitting there all by itself! I’m sure it would not cost all that much!” and Davina looked again, and yes, she saw the little mouth organ stuck in a corner looking a wee bit forlorn as though it had been abandoned! Well, that seemed as good an idea as any she had had! Again the stubby pencil came out and again the list got doctored (that’s changed, in case you don’t know that phrase!).
“Next?” enquired Mrs. Franks, becoming quite business-like……………….”My Grandpa!” said Davina. “I had been going to buy him an ornament, but Mum has bought him a beautiful music box which plays and a ballerina dances!” “Oh, yes,” said Mrs. Franks, “I’ve seen these before. They are really pretty!” After a wee bit thought, and some chin stroking (quite a few people in this story now do the chin-stroking thing, don’t they?) she snapped her fingers! Snap!! “I know!” she said. “Your Grandpa likes to sit in his big armchair while he is reading, doesn’t he?” “Well, yes, he does!” Davina agreed, with a slight frown on her face. What was that to do with anything?? “He could probably do with a nice cushion to rest his back against, couldn’t he?” “Yes,” Davina agreed again………………..”Well,” Mrs. Franks added before Davina could get any more confused, “There is a charity shop over there!” (more twirling and more pointing, and Davina saw a small dark charity shop with a real mixture of things in the window – a shop she never would have thought of checking out for Christmas presents! Then when she looked closer, she saw a nice creamy coloured cushion marked “Sale price! Last one available!” with a ticket for £2! £2! She could afford that! And giving Mrs. Franks a quick peck on the cheek, she shot off to the charity shop, £2 in hand, and in no time had bought the cushion!
Then, shouting to her Mum that she would meet her “under the clock” – their usual meeting place – in about an hour, Davina next rushed into the music shop and almost breathless in excitement, asked the assistant about the little mouth organ at the front corner of the window. The assistant clambered into the window (as it was quite a big display area) and stretched until he could grasp the little mouth organ. He rubbed it on his sleeve, saying “It’s kind of grubby; I could send it away to be cleaned, or……” and he seemed to be giving this some thought, “I could sell you this for just £2.50, and youcould get it cleaned!” Davina gave him a brilliant smile, and £2.50 (in that order) and before he could change his mind, grabbed the grubby moothie and popped it in her shopping bag!
WOW! Two down – three to go! She then rushed back to the entrance to the shopping centre, and sure enough, there was a stall selling shopping trolleys! Superb! Over she went, and parted with £3.50 for a nice bright blue one (blue being her Mum’s favourite colour!).
Where next? Oh yes, the gardening shop! In there she rushed………lots of rushing going on, isn’t there?.............and smiling happily at the man behind the counter, soon had a card which bore the inscription “Twelve Monthly Copies of ‘Gardening for the Thoughtful Gardener!’ Final Year’s Copy! - £3.50”. That, too, went into her shopping bag after parting with £3.50. She did a twirl right there and then, she was so happy! Where was the Sports Shop again?? Oh yes, up at the top of the moving stairs!
Up she went, again at breakneck speed, other shoppers quickly getting out of the way, and ran into the Sports Shop! She was quite surprised to find behind the counter another of the teachers from school! This lady had a large family, and needed the extra job to pay her bills……………….not that this of any interest to you readers, but I just thought you’d like to know…………….and Davina told this lady that she was looking for a new whistle for Mr. Jackson as his old one was pretty poor, and couldn’t be heard “behind a bus ticket” as the saying goes! The lady smiled at Davina, and looked round the things she was selling. There, in a little corner, in a wee box just big enough to hold one, all bright and shiny and new, was a whistle just asking to be blown! Davina complied! Everyone in the store looked round!! Davina blushed almost scarlet, then smiled and said “How much?” and the assistant said “£3.50!” Davina paid, and popped the little box into her shopping bag.
She sat down on a bench, and checked the money in her purse. WOW! She still had a whole £5.00! Into a stationers’ shop she went, and chose brightly coloured Christmas paper, some tags, a packet of Christmas Cards for her friends at school, and went up to the counter to find out how much all that would cost. “£3.00, miss!” the assistant said, and Davina handed over a further £3.00 – leaving her with £2!!
As she and all her Christmas gifts started walking back to where she would meet her Mum, she passed a pet shop, and noticed in the window a little ball which bore the notice “To keep your cat from getting bored!”. In she went – and asked if she could see the little ball. It was hollow, and had a little bell inside, so that when you rolled it round, it gave a nice wee mellow ring! Just the job for Mrs. Franks, who had been so very kind to her! And, more importantly, it just cost £2!
Looking at the clock in the middle of the shopping centre, Davina realised she would have to run to meet up with her Mum at the arranged time! Shiny black hair flying round her head, bags filled with all her shopping, trailing the new trolley (which had been sort of wrapped by the sales person), she flew back along past all the shops and all the other people doing their Christmas shopping, causing quite a few to stop and laugh at the sight!
Davina and Mum got back on the bus home, and as soon as they were in the front door, Davina ran up the stairs to her bedroom to hide her shopping from the rest of the family.
When Dad came home from work, both his wife and his daughter both talked at the one time to tell him what a great day they had had, and he laughed as they all sat down together to enjoy their evening meal!