The zen of Christmas shopping in downtown Bel Air

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I did some boutique shopping in downtown Bel Air today and found it remarkably zen-like after an obligatory round of bumper carts at Toys R Us in the Tollgate Mall Shopping Center on Marketplace Drive. Parking was like a game of musical slots at the shopping center. But downtown, I slid right into a first floor space at the Pennsylvania Avenue parking garage, where only five other cars were parked at about 3 p.m. I plunked two quarters in the meter and walked a block to Main Street — a shorter trek than the one I ventured crossing the parking lot between Toys R Us and Barnes & Noble earlier in the day. I stopped at HeartBeat (13 N. Main St.) first where I shopped for a fun accessory among the bags and belts from Brighton and fanciful Mary Frances scarves and handbags. Then I hit Tiger Lily (52 N. Main St.) just down the block and found glittering earrings on the sale rack for 50 percent off. I’d already stopped by Pink Silhouette (20 East Lee Street) a day earlier and found it filled with the kelly green cable sweaters and the monogrammed pendants of my closet circa 1983. But this version of preppy has a saucy twist. The Lilly Pultizer denim jeans are patterned with tiny embroidered martini glasses. Her denim jacket has a hot pink bow stitched to the back. The Jamie Krietman ballet flats come encrusted with glitter. On my way back to the car, I spied a brown suede Kate Spade handbag for $30 in the window of the Bearly Used (12 N. Main St.) consignment shop. I peeked in Tiny Toes (4 N. Main St.) and found lots of sophisticated outfits for girls and boys, including the cutest little tutu for someone about two-two. None of the stores were crowded, and at Tiger Lily one customer was talking about how her husband had come earlier to shop for her there. It reminded me of the way my mother found a boutique she liked and sent my father there every Christmas with the assurance that she’d love anything he bought there.