Tis the season to spend lolly…

presents

(This is not an anti-commercialisation-of-Christmas rant. I love Christmas and all the wonderful sights, sounds and smells that go with it. It is instead a another tale of my adventures.)

I’m absolutely hopeless at Christmas shopping. I think I’m just not ruthless enough. I lack the killer instinct required to tackle an old lady to the ground and wrest the ornate candle holder from her arthritic grasp which would be ‘so perfect’ for someone. Christmas music piped ceaselessly into shops full of bright lights gives me a headache. I’m too indecisive in choosing yellow or black socks (black always black, who wears yellow socks?).  I love Christmas it’s just the three weeks (months) leading up to it that get me down.

So it was with a fair amount of trepidation that I embarked on my Christmas Shop 2008. I planned ahead, I had a list, I gave myself a single afternoon to complete all my present buying, I determined to not be side tracked by carolers and free mince pies. The first mistake I made was to go alone. It’s always a mistake to go shopping alone; there’s no-one to cover your back, no-one to keep you from going to pieces in Argos (so much choice!), no-one to pick you up from the bottom of the scrum in the reduced item section. Most importantly their is no-one who can give you that all important second opinion on your potential gifts (“I’m sure your mum would love a Drum&Bass mix cd but let’s go look at the Lionel Richie section for a bit.”)
However I was full of confidence and the spirit of the season (my choice is always gin). I found a parking space in the labyrinthian multi-storey and headed out into the cold. I’ve also decided this year to make my own crackers, but that fell down at the first hurdle when a wily old shop assistant managed to sell a make-your-own-cracker kit which contained everything ready to put together. I felt a bit of a cheat so resolved at least to come up with my own jokes (or rather steal them from the internet). £5 and the crappy little gifts aren’t even included!
I lost valuable time wandering round a vast lingerie department, totally unable to find either an exit, just like that scene in Father Ted but with fewer priests (although there were lots of red-faced men trailing round after their wives as they had a frilly laced garment thrust in their face, and asked “what do you think of this?”) I’d been there an hour and a half now and so far all I had was d.i.y. crackers and wrapping paper but no presents. The only examples of gifts I had found from my list were either out of my price range or total shite. I was also getting rather tired as, thanks to the VAT decrease, every item I bought was reduced from a nice round figure by about 8p and I was carrying round a huge pocket full of change.
Now in a mild state of panic I phoned first my brother, then my sister, then my sister’s boyfriend for advice. “What’s the matter”, she asks; I’m nearly in tears in the middle of HMV unable to find a single cd (I’m sure that shop used to sell music, not just films and posters and ipod accessories). I got a grip and did what any sensible man would do in my circumstances, return the only gift I’ve bought so far (que a shed load more loose change), then grab the next four things I saw and fled in search of a sit down. At least the mountain of change pulling my trousers down round my ankles came in handy to pay the extortionate car park fee.

My family better jolly well appreciate the effort and emotional trauma I went through to get them their assorted bath salts (can you even buy these at any other time of year?). Remember Christmas lovers, it’s the thought that counts!

(PS. I decided this year to disguise all my presents this year when I wrapped them up, using cardboard and newspaper to make them look books or bottles which hopefully will add to the fun/disappointment when they’re unwrapped)

Merry Christmas everyone!

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