Charlotte Phillips

Book Sold Separately – by Charlotte Phillips

“How Much is that Jesus in the Window?”

I actually asked a clerk this weird question today at the card store in a relatively new shopping area in my neighbourhood. She laughed, awkwardly, and blurted out, “Isn’t he cute? We’ve sold a lot of these today. He’s $14.99. See, right there on the little card that says he loves you. He comes with a book, too. Separately.”

I could barely contain myself at her earnest demeanor. I had to hold back my initial retort of, “Yes, I hear Jesus does have a Book.”

Hallmark’s Easter marketing was in full seasonal glory at that strangely thriving store, which seems like an ancient doodad emporium nestled in amongst a cluster of shoe marts and coffee shops. The shopping plaza is in the centre of a tightly packed development of townhomes and three-story condo buildings that have popped up in the past 2 years. There’s oddly loud elevator music playing throughout the dystopian streetscape, to deter skateboarders and other young hooligans, I guess. It’s the kind of place you can drive right up and park at the front door of your destination, theoretically.

Grandview Heights (if you can call the view of your neighbour’s parking pad or Juliet balcony, Grand) is now a sea of humanity seeping like a tide of wet concrete into the forests and hillsides of South Surrey. Every day it seems another 100 young families move in with their toddlers and BMW strollers and appetites for frozen yogurt – and apparently their need for greeting cards.

I wonder, in this era of the shared economy and apps for everything, how an old-school card shop with Disney character ornaments and a million options for displaying 3X5 photos can even exist. This card shop sells $6.00 cards across from a Chapters store, a kitchenware place and a home accessory shop where cards, by the way, are a quick and convenient add-on to the gifts you can buy there.

The card shop is probably 4000 square feet of anything you would ever need to celebrate everything worth celebrating. I find places like this dizzying. They torment me. There are too many options for cards, 90% of which are either sickeningly sweet or mind-numbingly lame. Most cards seem to be written by a hermit trapped in the humour of the 1970’s or a gross old uncle trying to make crude body function or sexual jokes at the expense of the birthday celebrant.

I even saw an Easter card that made a joke about Jesus’s Twitter feed. Something about how happy he was to have 12 followers. OMG! I spent a good 20 minutes perusing one terrible card after another and finally settled on a completely innocuous springtime offering with a yellow envelope.  It was as if the creator of this card simply mailed in the sentiment. And Ironically, I’ll be doing pretty much the same thing for its recipient. But still. I hope the pain of choosing a good card is inversely proportional to the joy of receiving one.

Anyway, I bought the $14.99 plush Jesus, as I just couldn’t resist it. I have some devout Christians in my circle of family and friends, and I’ll find a home for Him, somewhere. It’s too late to send Him in the mail for Easter, so I’ll wait until Christmas. He’s a versatile non-seasonal gift.

Happy Easter to those of you who are celebrating the season.

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