Over Christmas break, I did something I have never done before, and now for the life of me, I can’t figure out why it took me so long to do it; I bought my mom a Coach bag for Christmas.
My mom can be a little tricky to shop for since she can’t smell, so that rules out all the lotions, candles or soaps, and I don’t usually pick out jewelry for her (which I am realizing is a stupid move on my part since I always end up taking her jewelry anyways.) This Christmas, I was racking my brain about what to get her when it came to me.
Growing up, I remember when Mom would come home all excited about a new bag she had either found at the thrift store or that one of her sisters had gifted her. Each time, she would show us all the pockets or explain how it would be perfect for carrying such and such thing. And Mom always listened so attentively in return when my sister or I needed to show and tell about one of our new bags.
“How does Mom not have a Coach bag yet?” I thought to myself, and thus the plan was hatched.
When the time came, I didn’t tell her where we were going; she just knew that we had a stop to make on our way to dinner. I parked the car off the main street of downtown with my dad in it, with orders to “Get comfy.” (I had even told him to bring a book before we left, but the poor man didn’t take me seriously.)
As we rounded the corner onto State Street, without any idea where we are going, Mom started telling me a story that about killed me with the timing of it.
“I was at the thrift store the other day and there was this cute Coach bag, and I thought about buying it, but decided not to get it. But I kept thinking it, so I went back to see if it was still there, and when I got there, some other lady was buying it right in front of me! I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.”
I couldn’t have asked for a better set up for this.
“I really have no idea where we are going Robin…”
After crossing the street while dodging rain drops in a rare Southern California storm, I pulled up abruptly in front of the Coach outlet store, spread my arms wide and proclaimed “Ok!!! We are here!! Pick whatever you want!”
Mom looked at me with bug eyes and gasped, and it was amazing. “Don’t even look at the prices, Mom. Don’t worry about them at all. Plus it’s an outlet and everything is on sale anyways.”
Flabbergasted and smiling, she picked up a small handbag off the first table, looked it over uncertainly and put it back down.
“Let’s do a lap first? Check out all the options?” I suggested.
We begin working our way through the sections like kids in the candy store. Mom started out a bit tentative, walking around and picking up one or two here and there, counting pockets, testing strap lengths, scoping out the interiors and examining different colors. After awhile, we met back at the front of the store.
“Ok, which ones did you like?” I asked.
“Well I really liked this one, she says, holding up a small black option. “It has a nice shape, but it doesn’t have a zipper on the top. It needs to have a zipper on the top.”
“Ok great, that helps narrow down the selection.”
We made our way through the store a second time, eliminating bags one by one.
“Definitely not this one…Too small, or too many inside pockets that might make the bag hang awkwardly… Wrong color… Weird strap.”
By the time we were finished, she held a medium size, shapely, red leather handbag with a crossbody strap and two short handles.
“Is this the one?” I asked?
“Yes I think so,” she stated triumphantly.
“Ok! Great! I will go and see if they have a new one for you in the back while you pick out a wallet!”
“Mom! Yes, you must! It’s a gift, you can’t say no! Besides, Marcus wants to buy you a wallet!”
So, in another state of shock, we approached the wallet section with the same strategy that we had attacked the purses. She took out a small black wallet and fiddled with the zippers before putting it down and exclaiming: “Robin, I can’t! I feel like I just can’t decide, and besides, we have to go!”
“Mom, stop. Dad is in the car, and he has his phone. We have nowhere to be and all the time in the world. Take a deep breath. I will help you.” I laughed because I get the exact same way when I shop; completely overwhelmed by all the options and prices so that leaving and escaping sounds much better. Now I know where I get it from.
When all was said and done, Mom had a cute little navy blue wallet and I had found a black bag for myself.
“What do you think about this one? It can fit my laptop, it zips all the way, and it will make me feel like a grown-up at work instead of using my broken Costco backpack.”
She quickly approved, and soon we were in line to pay before we could do any more damage; Mom was holding my bag, and I had her purse and wallet in my hands. We each paid, and then before walking out the door together, we stopped and swapped our shopping bags.
“Merry Christmas Mom.”
“Happy birthday Robin.”
We tucked our new babies into the backseat of the car, and then the three of us went out to dinner in a torrential downpour where we sipped margaritas, Dad tried mole sauce for the first time, and we contemplated how we were going to get back to the car in the flooded streets.
Now Mom and I send each other pictures of our bags out in the real world, and talk about how much we like them. “I treat mine like a sports car,” said Mom. “I just take it out for special occasions.” Mine has become a staple at work and it fits everything I wanted it to, and it makes me feel fancy.
Both of our purses are beautiful, but my favorite part is the memory of buying them.