For the past three years, our summer home leave has entailed a lot of shopping. It became pretty evident our first year in Cairo that clothes, toys, certain foods, such as some of our favorite spices, baking powder, good wine, cocoa powder, etc. were hard to – or sometimes even impossible – come by (at least to a price we could pay – anything is available in Cairo if you have infinite wealth). Our first summer back in the US we therefore bought all our wardrobes for the next year, all Christmas- and birthday presents, various food items, beauty products, electronics, and whatever else we knew we couldn’t get in Cairo or that we could get cheaper in the US. We did the same thing the next summer. For someone who doesn’t like to shop – me – this is not such an awful arrangement, because I can just work off my list, and then all my shopping for the year is over with, all within a few weeks; no stress before Christmas, no squeezing through crowds during sales, and no constant search for pants that fit. When soccer season starts, August’s new cleats are waiting in a closet. Christmas? Just get all the presents out and wrap them. New baby? Why, everything we need is in the dresser in the bedroom.
This summer, however, contrary to what has become almost an intuition, I haven’t stocked up. I’ve got a couple of things here and there (things I know I can only get here, or things I know from experience will be more expensive anywhere else in the world), but I don’t have full wardrobes for all the boys, and I don’t have a suitcase full of Christmas presents. I haven’t even bought candy canes. I don’t know what we’ll find in Lebanon, but we’ve decided to trust people that have told us it’s not like Cairo; that we will be able to get most things we might need. I hear there’s an H&M, a Spinney’s, and a Virgin Megastore. Add fruit and vegetable vendors, and we should be all set!