Thursday, June 28, 2007


"Big Weekend SALE - Shop Early - Extra Savings",

"Jump into July with Hot Values - Celebrate the Holiday with Great Savings",

"12 months with no payments, no interest"

The headlines jumped out at me in large print, not just the advertisement pages, but in all the sections of the newspaper. Retailers wanted to make sure that shoppers would be tempted to make unnecessary purchases by these great sales. I don't think most consumers need more encouragement of spending their money. We are a nation of "buy now", whether we need the items or not and forget about how to pay the bills later.

I thought it is humorous in selecting the title of this entry as my adoring fans know I dislike shopping. It is hard to believe that as a woman, living within 20 minutes of driving between two major shopping malls, yet the last time I went to either mall was a few months ago! If I enjoyed shopping, but lived in New York and not knowing how to drive, I would depend on my husband taking me shopping at those major outlets in New Jersey. I would not make my husband wait for me while I shop, so I usually go by myself if I need to do some shopping.

I remember from my days in Viet Nam when my Mom took me and my cousins, TH and PL, shopping for clothes, I was not interested in selecting the right fabrics or the latest styles. My Mom used to get upset and said that I was difficult.

I still have a few clothing articles I wore the day I left Viet Nam. Looking at the blue shirt with two front pockets, a pair of black pants, a white soccer jersey with two vertical black stripes on the long sleeves, I am surprised that these items survived the seven months in the refugee camps. There are also a blue skirt with two front side pockets, a pair of grey wool pants and a stonewash purple jacket. I have no idea whether these items were from Viet Nam or were given to me by someone in the refugee camp. I only remember that we could not bring luggages with us during the escape, so we wore many layers of clothing. Good things we did because it was cold at night. I do remember wearing a short red corduroy jacket at the beginning. Later, when my sister CH kept saying that she was cold, I gave her the jacket. I wonder when I last wore the jacket or it was too worn out to bring along to America.

I remember picking out the white soccer jersey to wear on the journey. Knowing the danger and possible death, I thought I would like to be buried in my favorite clothing.

I don't remember much how often we rotate the clothing and what we used to wash our clothes. Definitely there was no luxury of detergent, washing machine or even bars of soap. How did we manage with so few "outfits" in the seven months in the refugee camp?

I do remember the first time my sister CH and I went shopping for new clothes. The first day at the refugee agency, we were taken into a room full of donated clothing and told to pick out whatever we needed. My uncle also gave us some used and new clothes. Almost a year later, when we saved some money, we made our first shopping trip at Conway, a clothing store at the corner of 30th Street and Broadway, a few blocks from Macy's Department store.

That was the year when women wore bright colors, flash dance shirt was in fashion, ruffle dresses with half a dozen colors and I was still skinny and able to wear designer jeans. We had a great time shopping for new clothes and a good feeling that we shred a little bit of the past behind. Perhaps it was the feeling that we finally pass the huddle of being a charity case and that we were able to take care of ourselves. The next time someone tells me "Money does not buy happines", I will respond that money does buy happiness when you no longer wearing donated clothes, and you removed the price tag on a new clothing item that you paid for with the money you have earned.

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