Wednesday, November 16, 2005

'Tis the season to shop

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published November 16, 2005

I made a journey Sunday. A pilgrimage, if you will.

This trip didn’t require much planning. Just a phone call from my mom. My 6-year-old and I hopped into the car and we were ready to go.

We zipped over Houston freeways to meet my mom and the three of us headed to Reliant Center. As we entered the building, the crowd seemed to part to let us through. They knew why we were there. We are women. We have money to spend. So get out of our way.

Yep, we spent Sunday afternoon at Nutcracker Market.

Nutcracker Market is almost an ethereal place. For four days every November, more than 300 vendors offer gourmet food, clothing, jewelry, toys and who knows what else to hypnotized shoppers like myself. The event raises funds for the Houston Ballet.

Last year, 68,000 shoppers spent over $9 million at the market. I wasn’t one of them. Strollers aren’t allowed at the market, so 3-month-old Jenna and I stayed home .

But this year, Jenna is old enough to stay home with her dad for an afternoon. And she’s young enough to not know about the fun she’s missing. She can catch up in a year or two.

Back at Reliant Center, Mom, Julia and I navigated the sprawling arena. We saw everything from $200 sweaters to $15 nightlights made out of china teacups. Not just anyone can set up a booth here. Some vendors submit applications for years before they are accepted.

Oh, and the food. There were free samples everywhere. Julia, who stopped liking pretty much food of any kind around age 2, tasted salsa, cherry jelly and barbecue sauce.

Momentarily wracked with guilt over the fact that Chad was probably up to his elbows in a diaper blowout while I was strolling through this consumer wonderland, I picked him up some tamales from the Texas Tamale Company.

As crowded as the market was on its last day, I managed to find more Baytown representation. I chatted with seasoned Nutcracker Market shoppers Gladys Keller and her daughter Karen for a minute.

Julia, still young and building up her shopping stamina, finally needed a break. We sat down and shared a $4 Coke and a $5 baked potato. Yes, the concessions are overpriced. That’s why it’s a good idea to fill up on the free samples.

Then we were back on the floor. We were there three hours and didn’t see half of what the vendors had to offer. I did buy a Christmas present for someone. I also bought a necklace for me. And glass candle holders. For me. Hey, I’ll be buying stuff for everyone in a few weeks. At Nutcracker Market, ‘tis the season to be selfish.

Finally, we stumbled out to the car in a shopping-induced daze. Julia came away with a bracelet with her name on it, and a Christmas ornament of a girl kicking a soccer ball to reflect her new favorite sport. My mom got some nice pottery pieces for decorating her kitchen. It was a good day.

I’m planning to go back next year. And as long as I keep bringing Chad tamales, I don’t think he’ll complain.


  • At Wed Nov 16, 06:35:00 AM, Blogger elizabeth said…

    I love it!

    "Will babysit for food!"

  • At Wed Nov 16, 08:59:00 AM, Blogger courtney said…

    I love Christmas bazaars! I have always wanted to go to the Nutcracker Market; I've heard it's the best. I went to the Chi Omega Christmas a couple of weekends ago here in Dallas. So much fun! When I walked in the big market hall and saw all of the Christmas stuff I nearly gasped! I love this time of the year!


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