Yesterday Anna and I spent the day at the Galleria mall in Dallas. Three levels filled with stores, an ice skating rink, and food options met our senses. Ever since learning there was an ice skating rink, Anna has wanted to visit this mall. With Jacob away at a youth retreat, it seemed like the perfect time to go.
As we walked into the mall, excitement poured out of Anna. Suddenly I was transported to my own Galleria experience. As a young girl living in Southern California, there was a Galleria not far from our home. I remember begging to go often to the Galleria so that I could walk around, and see all the shops with inviting toys begging for me to buy them. The memory that really stands out in my mind is the time I got to go to the Galleria with my dad. We were on a date!
I don’t remember all the particulars like whether or not we ate dinner at the Galleria, but I do remember getting to buy something! This was a big deal as finances were often tight in our family at that time. However, that night I came home with a new doll. I was a pretty smart girl because I knew even then that Dad wouldn’t balk at the price tag like Mom would. 🙂 I don’t recall the price, but just a sense that this doll cost more than we should probably spend. The other factor that stands out in my mind was the act of love exhibited on my dad’s part. Shopping was not a favorite pastime of his (still isn’t!) so spending the evening at the mall with his daughter was something he did because he loved me.
I also have many wonderful memories of shopping trips with my mom. In fact, as Anna and I drove in the car yesterday, I told her how Grandma and I would plan a shopping trip every year for the day after Thanksgiving. This was an all-day event as we had to drive at least an hour to get to a “good” mall, and then we would spend the day Christmas shopping and enjoying lunch out. This is one of the experiences I miss most with having family live so far away– shopping with my mom.
So with the promise of ice skating and some shopping (I had some gift cards to spend too), Anna and I spent the day together. Our conversation ran the gamut…”Mom, did you have a close friend when you were my age?” to “This is the best grilled cheese ever!” Throughout the day, I was struck by how many times Anna thanked me for bringing her to the Galleria. I was also reminded how important it is to do one-on-one activities with my children. Not every outing can be an all-day affair, but this day reaped lots of benefits.
Last night as I said goodnight to Anna she again thanked me for taking her ice skating, buying her a new shirt, and for driving to Dallas. I know I often feel conflicted when I think about recreational shopping. As I look around at the fellow shoppers in the mall I wonder how many of them have credit cards that are maxed out. As I get excited about a really good deal, I also wonder about my deal, and the big box stores who can at least partially cut their expenses because of cheap labor in third world countries. I am also all too famiiar with the grip of greed in my own life, and how easily I can feel discontent. These are complex questions that need to be addressed. However, yesterday was more than just a shopping trip. Just like I can still recall the thrill of spending the evening with my dad and getting to buy a new doll, my day with Anna will hopefully be a memory that we can look back on with fondness in the years to come.