A Grand Dame

When it comes to brand loyalty I’m about as devoted as they come. I don’t believe in spending money on something unless I’m sure I’m going to like it which mostly means I’m not the best discount shopper going around. I still buy the same brand of beetroots my mum did, I drive out of my way to go to the same grocers, butchers and bread shops that I’ve been helped out with my bags over the years and when it comes to retail I’m a David Jones girl through and through.

It all started with my Nanna, my namesake. A teency slip of a woman, born in an era of classic style and substance, now in her nineties and looking not a day over sixty years young with a penchant for fine shoes. Her skin is silky smooth, the result of her daily routine of drinking a cup of boiled water every morning in bed with a book, a habit I try to emulate. She is gracious, kind, immaculate and an always-loyal David Jones shopper. Ever since I could remember, she has bought our clothes, Christmas and Birthday gifts and anything in between from the old department store and it, as much as the boiled water has become part of my makeup. Whenever we are together, we take our tea in the store café after shopping, her arm resting in mine as we slowly walk, she, as always in a tiny pair of heels. When we chat on the phone she tells me about a “little present she’s just popped in the post” something she just couldn’t resist in the children’s department where she is known to the store ladies, all grandmothers themselves who love to natter about their little ones over Peter Rabbit dinnerware.

Even with its chequered reputation, especially of late, I wouldn’t want to lose the habit of shopping there every week. Thursday is my Leisure Shopping Day with The King. I call it that because we shop with no purpose in mind other than to spend our day together, out and about enjoying our favourite pastime. And boy does that kid love to shop! He is content to sit from morning to afternoon smiling and chatting as long as we use the lifts. He just adores those lifts! With such a smile of delight, we usually miss a few stops on purpose purely for his pleasure. Some days we have just enough change to cover a coffee and a window shop, others it’s a marathon effort to keep all the bags hanging from the packhorse without tipping it over. Doesn’t matter to us, we just love the day. Its part of our routine and I think he misses it as much as I do if we have to skip a week.

Today was all about presents and The King and I set out with a full wallet and even fuller hearts, we were buying gifts! The best purchases are the ones you give away and I had been saving extra long for some special buys. As you would expect I have a very strict schedule when it comes to shopping day which begins with a bus ride wherein The King falls asleep leaving me alone with my thoughts to indulge in a coffee and a cupcake – always vanilla choc at The Cupcake Bakery inside Westfield Sydney. The girls know my order off by heart now, its always the same. And even though there are loads of cafes with shelves displaying every sweet treat known to sugar nuts, its a cupcake I must have.

We do the same stores in the same order before our feet pitter patter in the path of DJ’s.

It has that inbuilt, sophisticated atmosphere it always has, no need for an image overhaul here. The same powder puff ladies dressed head to toe in pastel, the same tinkling notes from the grand piano, the same decorations for every celebration throughout the year. I remember going to see the spring flower displays as a child and of course the magical Christmas windows that I still gaze apon in delight, six years old all over again. I have never missed a year without visiting these windows more than once over the season and each time I see something I haven’t before. That’s the magic of them you know?

My first experience of a David Jones Christmas was my fifteenth. I caught the train in to town, on my own and spent the day and my hard earned cash buying gilt wrapped gifts for my parents and brothers. Each present felt luxurious to me and I was so proud to give them. They did a limited edition oversized carrybag that year and I lugged several of them home feeling ever so posh. I really do believe that feeling has stayed with me to this day. I take myself out to lunch somewhere quiet and sit at a cloth strewn table, silently smiling, contemplating how special this time of year is.

The King and I of course took the lift up to see the toys, with Ari’s letter to Santa fresh on my mind. It’s the first year she has a most definite list of toys and I didn’t realise how fun it would be making sure Santa delivered the exactly right ones. Makes it all the more real somehow. I was planning to go to a discount toy super store and had even kept the junk mail brochure but those places freak me out. I feel like a lesser parent because my children don’t have many of the toys that live there. Entire isles devoted to one brand of toy forcing me to buy more more more and to forget about the most important toy of all, imagination. I want Ari to love fiecely, her few carefully selected presents rather than discard them one after the other in some consumer driven frenzy that I can easily get swept up in. The thing is, it feels special, to me, buying the way I do. The planning, the thinking, the saving, the day spent in the city light up in shining red and gold is my little gift to myself.

I wonder on the bus ride home and as my day draws to a close, what memories my littles will carry with them as they get older. Will they remember writing and dropping their Santa letters in the Queen Victoria Building mailbox every year, to then stand under the tree gazing upwards into the thousands of twinkling lights, will it be the very same shining store windows I stood marveling before, year after year, or will it just be the simple things? The Kings delight in catching the lifts to the top of the building and back down again or Ari’s insistence in sitting on only the blue seats and never the red on the bus because its her favourite colour. All I know is that I can wait for them to grow up and tell me, I want my babies just a little longer. That’s for sure.

Cheers to my darling Nanna

Note: Any insult to devoted Myer shoppers is most unintentional; one of our best Ladies-in-waiting is a Myer girl and way better dressed than Lady Moss could ever hope to be. We sincerely apolgise for any offence caused. Shopping is a serious business you know!

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  1. Love as always! Savoured every minute! And obviously love the Ladies in Waiting finale 🙂

  2. Meg

     /  November 22, 2011

    Isn’t our Nanna just the best! Loved your words about her, brought tears to my eyes xo


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