Christmas shopping Grandma-style

Story by Jody Sanderson

Winter 2022

“Cash or gift cards, Grandma!”, the 13-year-old grandson emphatically assures me.

“Same for me!”, says the 16-year-old. His brother chimes in, “Me too!”


Gone are the days of matching pyjamas, hoodies and Thomas the Tank Engines for the twins. Now any item of clothing remotely similar is totally disdained. They are as different as well, the music they listen to. Think Kurt Cobain vs. Dvorak.

And I get it. Cash and gift cards make it easier to give them what they’d like for Christmas. But they make for a might boring looking tree on Christmas morning in my humble opinion.

But, for years I’ve had a secret weapon to make special occasion gifts a little more…well, unique. And I do it all year round.

You see, I am a thrifter. A proud, vigilant, thrifter – always on the lookout for those little extras.

Thrifting refers to act of shopping at a flea market, garage sale, a charitable non-profit event and, of course, thrift stores. The goal is to save money (I am a senior, after all!) and discover treasures that have been recycled, are vintage or created by someone else.

For example, when my daughter was about two, my mom got her a Walking Wendy doll from a garage sale. Manufactured in the fifties, in several different forms, my daughter renamed her Suzy. Suzy was as tall as she was, with curly hair and blue eyes that opened and closed. For years, they had tea parties and ‘sleepovers’ together.

I have no idea what happened to her over the ensuing almost forty years. But the pictures of her with her doll always brings back fond memories.

Last year, while perusing through a Salvation Army store, I happened upon the exact same doll, with the exact same outfit, in mint shape, for a mere fraction of what anything similar went for on eBay. I was over the moon. When the exact moment arrived, the absolute joy on my grown daughter’s face was infectious. I’m not sure her kids thought she was crazy but most likely.

That was in Calgary. I’ve since discovered the Airdrie Community Thrift store, run by Rebecca Powers. It’s a non-for-profit boutique, supporting several charities across the city, which makes it even more special. It’s become my own little favourite emporium of discovery.

And while, yes, there will be the obligatory gift cards, there will also be those magical finds that make Christmas fun, and memory making. And it’s that simple, joyful pleasure, in the midst of guaranteed chaos and stress, that reminds me again, this special time of year is about giving…time, resources and love! Life