Christmas Humbug? 

18 Dec

You may have gathered from the previous post that we don’t go overboard on Christmas. In fact, we’ve almost checked out on it completely. When I read a newspaper article this morning ( ) it all came flooding back to me exactly why. Entitled “Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is not to have to buy presents” the author succinctly describes the ludicrous, to me at any rate, forced buying of gifts that no-one really wants.

Come on, admit it, most of what you buy is junk. It will be drastically reduced in price come Boxing Day if not sooner and the only people who will buy it are those poor “organised” souls getting in early for the following Christmas. Of course, you may well have bought useful presents: food or drink of some sort, clothes, tools or kitchen gadgets and so on. This, of course, assumes the recipient hasn’t already bought the same item for themselves. Ergo they either didn’t like it enough to buy it for themselves or they couldn’t afford it which is a whole other argument on pity, embarrassment, forced reciprocation and escalation.

When it comes to buying for your partner you are truly blessed if your other half knows you so well that they effortlessly choose something you love and wanted year after year. Most women I know either hint or explicitly tell hubby what to buy them. A couple go shopping with him to make sure he gets exactly the right thing. I’m sure lots of men do the same thing. I get it. You’ve had too many years having to gush about a gift you either think was a waste of money, dread having to wear in public or is so practical as to not feel like a gift at all. I know, #FirstWorldProblems.

I wasn’t always this cynical. I bought Christmas cards as soon as they came into the shops, probably around September. I had a Word document with all the names and addresses of those to whom they would be sent along with the name of every offspring and if they had sent one to us the previous year. This was necessary as most were not family and friends I was in regular contact with but rather people I hadn’t spoken with in years. Oh, and don’t forget the little letter that had to accompany most of these, listing holidays, achievements and anything else that said how wonderful one’s life was.

Christmas was an event to be planned for. Endless lists and shopping and disappointment. I so wanted everything to be perfect and to give my son wonderful happy-family memories all whilst trying to instill the “real” meaning of Christmas. These aims were not necessarily compatible. Then, at a particularly difficult time, I stopped coping. I bought everybody scarves – the gift that says you really couldn’t be bothered. It had to stop. The following year I didn’t buy gifts for adult family and just gave money to the now teenage nieces and nephews.

Fortunately, Neil feels the same way. We don’t buy each other gifts. Our itinerate life style means we rarely spend Christmas at home any more. Nobody can send us cards as we don’t have a letterbox. Emails and Facebook serve to send our Christmas greetings worldwide. Celebration is largely based around eating and drinking too much although I make it a rule that I’m not spending all day cooking! It suits us.

What we really look forward to is Alex and his girlfriend joining us in January. He works in retail so he doesn’t get much time off at Christmas. Perhaps if everyone else did the same as us he’d have more. Then again, maybe he’d be out of a job. So keep spending folks.


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