(scene opens in Christmas mall, Carrot wandering between Alpha and Gamma)
Me: This was the mall that I used to hang out at as a kid.
(Alpha and Gamma side eye Carrot)
Me: When I was your age (pokes Alpha) our parents would drop us off at a particular door, tells us to be back there at a certain hour, and just leave us here with our friends to wander, hang out, and shop. It was like teenage day care.
Gamma: (excitedly) Did you ever buy anything?
Me: (snorts) With what money? No, it was mostly hanging out. At Christmas, before internet, you’d make lists of things you wanted and shared them with the family. Then the whole family would go to the mall, you’d get your list, and then separate to go buy things for everyone.
Alpha: (confused) Why don’t we do that?
Me: What kid had enough money to buy everyone presents? Presents that were “good enough”? It used to make your Auntie K and I so anxious with the pressure of getting the “right thing”. I never wanted that for you, that expectation that you have to buy people gifts just because. So I never pressed you guys to buy gifts for one another. I want you guys to grow up giving gifts because you like the person and want to do something nice. Something special. The holidays are stressful enough as is. And you kinda need a source of income before you can do that anyway.
Gamma: Can we hang out at the mall anyway? (shock and awe) Did you see the food court?!
Alpha: (skeptical) What’s fun about hanging out at a shopping place?
Me: (sighs) It was a different time.
Alpha: Your childhood was wierd.