A group of Biff Bam Pop! friends have an annual tradition: they get together every Boxing Day, grab an early morning coffee at the Starbucks at Yonge and Wellesley in downtown Toronto and then head out on a post-Christmas shopping binge. On their lists: comics, books, CD’s, DVD’s and electronics. It’s an event they all love: friendship and explicit consumerism, all wrapped up into a half-day affair. The build up to this happy occasion can be just as exhilarating as the day itself. Here then, is a multi-part, behind-the-scenes-look into JP’s exuberance over 2009’s Boxing Day extravaganza. Enjoy!
Saturday, December 26 – Boxing Day
I gave myself plenty of time. You know, like I always do.
My alarm went off at 7 but I was still running late for the annual 9 a.m. meeting with my Biff Bam Pop! Boxing Day pals at Starbucks. A few last-minute, tissue-wrapped gifts set me back. Flying down the Gardiner Expressway, excitement rising, I threw on some music. Elbow’s One Day Like This hit my airways, a live recording with the BBC Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios from earlier this year. Strings. Choir. Wonderful.
And perfect. One day like this a year would see me right!
Only fifteen minutes late wasn’t bad considering the time I actually left my place. I said my “good mornings” to the gang, threw my jacket over a chair and made my way straight to the ordering counter.
Does anyone else know that Starbucks no longer serves Peppered Bacon Breakfast Sandwiches? Oh, they have a bacon sandwich all right. Apparently, a marketing genius at the company changed the product mix around some time ago. Big mistake, to my mind. Maybe if I had purchased the product with more regularity, it would still be around. But then surely my cholesterol level would be higher and my waistline a little larger. I don’t dwell on these thoughts for very long. Really, it’s only a minor despair. Perhaps the early morning loss would have affected me more had I been on time (or early) but sitting down at the table with the rest of my chums, I don’t let the lack of pepper ruin my morning.
With a creamy hot chocolate in my other hand, wherein Starbucks makes mighty amends, we’re a gaggle of laughs, of wrapping paper, of gifts and of lists. I take mine out from my coat pocket, slowly unfolding it to the peering eyes of my pop culture cohorts.
“That’s a lot of stuff,” someone says with a measure of incredulity.
“Yes it is,” I reply, proudly staring at my list.
Elias shows us a variety of sketches he made over the holidays, images of us, the Biff Bam Pop! crew, as superheroes. (We look mighty, indeed!) David regales us with tales of family Christmases present and past. (They sound adventurous!)
As much as I anticipate and enjoy the crossing of items off of my list, this is, undoubtedly, the best part of the day for me: the initial chit-chat of the last week of our lives. We discuss how family has been, what gifts we’ve received, what movies we’ve seen and what movies we want to see not to mention the specific items we’re looking for on this Boxing Day. Everything up until now has been prologue, but here we are, together, of singular mind (and wit), enjoying each other’s company during the holiday season, a full day of economic socializing in front of us.
There’s no snow in Toronto today – just a grey, overcast sky that doesn’t dare rain on our parade.
We make our way down Yonge St. from store to store, from line-up to line-up, always checking to see how each other are doing; ensuring someone is not lost in HMV’s second level, music DVD section or the World’s Biggest Bookstore’s non-fiction area. Instant messages are sent to Andy B. Where are you? A tap on the shoulder. “Right behind you.” A cell phone rings. Where did Scotty and Denny go? A relieved sigh. “Bottom floor, sci-fi row.”
Strangely, smiles broaden in relation to the amount of cash spent and the number of times credit cards are swiped. It’s a strange, once-a-year dynamic.
We have brunch together and I partake far too much of the buffet: eggs, sausage, french toast and a second helping of bacon. Third, if you count the sandwich earlier in the morning. (I don’t.) This time, there isn’t even room for Jello.
Some of us go our part, going our separate ways in the afternoon while the rest of us head back to Andy B’s place to drink some tea, look over our spoils and watch movies. It’s a relaxing finale.
Boxing Day 2009 was a perfect day. I did everything I wanted to do.
And my list?
Puma shoes? Check.
Comic books? Oh, yes. Check.
Friends? All here. All together. Check. Check. Check.
Boxing Day 2010 is less than a year away. Time to start writing a list.