Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Christmas Shopping in Shanghai

In the US, Christmas decorations appear in the malls as the Halloween stores close their doors. By late November with Thanksgiving, the shopping season is in full swing.

In Shanghai, the decoration store turned its inventory over as Halloween ended. But wasn’t until early December that the malls and stores decorated for Christmas, putting up trees, lights and piping (loud and tinny) Christmas music through the speaker systems. For a country with little overt religion, Shanghai, at least, has readily picked up Christmas as one of its holidays; an opportunity for a get-together, good food and exchanging gifts.

For the expat shopping in Shanghai, there are wonderful presents to buy for people back home – silks, trinkets, artwork, and jewelry. The challenge is rather to find presents that might have been under the tree back home. Clothes – well yes you can get anything made, but it you want that latest skateboard/surf fashions, they might be hard to come by. Books – we are fortunate that there are now a number of foreign language/English bookstores, but for those who long to spend hours in a Barnes & Noble or Borders bookstore, perusing books over coffee and sampling the latest CDs, the choices are limited. Moreover, when the request is for a fun gadget – in this case, a clock for the shower – there is no Brookstone or Sharper Image at the local mall that might just have it (and some inflated price).

That said, with winter still not declared (see blog below), continuous rain, and decorations abounding, this expat found a shower clock, t-shirts satirizing communist propaganda, some interesting novels/biographies on China, wrapping paper and ribbons. There will be presents under the tree. The presents won’t be covered with Santas, sleighs and holly. But then it is a Chinese helper who delivers the presents from Santa here, isn’t it?

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