A report from the big city during the Holiday Season
by Marie Nicola
Entering another Holiday Season in my Upper Canadian hovel. And, by the way, it’s Holidays in Upper Canada, never Christmas. The explanation why is as commercially driven as the season itself up here. And, we all know where Christmas preparations start—in the stores.
To be in the city, one loses a sense of time. Thank goodness for the store fronts like in the Holt Renfrew flagship store on Bloor West. Had it not been for their opulent window dressings complete with crystal chandeliers and elegantly dressed mannequins lurking in seasonally festive poses, I would barely have recognized we were more than month past September.
There was a time back home on PEI where my holiday traditions included the Western School Board Christmas Concert, the TOSH annual craft sale, gorging on mass quantities of holiday sweets like an insatiable Jabba the Hutt and, of course, paralyzed on the couch by the promise of Christmas Specials.
How those days are opposite from my existence in Toronto! Months of mental preparation is required before stepping foot into the rage known as Holiday shopping. Hey, don’t get me wrong, I’m all about propping up the local economy. I just simply cannot stomach any activity that requires physical agility as a necessity to deftly move in and out of irate crowds. After a day of defending my personal space I feel like the only Christmas Spirit left is found in an unmarked bottle located in the cabinet next to my television. Yep, Holidays are not for the weak of heart and I’m on a bid for freedom against the annual hex I call holiday shopping.
I’m a philanthropist at heart so you can imagine how thrilled I am with the hottest trend in cultural gifting. Membership programs, designed specifically for young professionals ages 2535, are popping up all across the city at the country’s most prestigious cultural centres. These programs offer parties, discounts and glamour all bundled in one fabulous and affordable package ideal for gifting. Two of the most notable include The Royal Ontario Museum’s Young Patrons’ Circle and the Canadian Opera Company’s Operanation. (You can log on to www.jakandjil.com and see a photo of yours truly scouted at this year’s Operanation for the style section.)
Secondly, the Art Gallery of Ontario has long been prized by culture vultures as the must shop stop for unique items. They’ve recently launched their online shopping portal at shop.ago.net with watches, stationary and prints designed by architect Frank Gehry, and of course fabulous children’s gifts all in support of their programs and collections. Dear Confederation Centre of the Arts, consider this my wish for you to establish an online store so I can shop your unique art items as well.
It’s all coming together, time to steer my attention away from the preparations and focus on the joy of the season. Nathan Phillips Square and the Cavalcade of Lights! Only in Toronto will the city cry about power shortages and then illuminate 100,000 lights nightly for a month. But, I’m not going to protest, I’m going to enjoy one of the few seasonal traditions that exist outside the shops with my friends, of course. Happy Holidays, everyone.