I’ll let you into a secret. Sometimes, I really wish that Christmas was every two years instead. I know – Bah Humbug and all that. When the time comes I love it really, I just feel a slow-burning panic starting to emerge in early November when I realise that I’ve bought absolutely nothing. Each year, I vow to be more organised. Buy presents in the January Sales, then put them away. Make a list of present ideas for people throughout the year. Don’t bankrupt yourself buying expensive rubbish at the last minute.
Inevitably, it’s the panic-buying in December that wins every time. Other parents I see in the school playground smugly inform me about how organised they are – everything is bought, wrapped and the Christmas food shopping delivery slot is all booked. “That’s great!” I say through gritted teeth, thinking that this will definitely be me next year. It never is.
Even good-natured neighbours start to become irritated at taking in so many parcel deliveries for me in the two weeks running up to Christmas Day and I start ranting about needless excess packaging. Then there’s the grandparents. “What can I buy for the children?” they ask me, which is code for “Can you buy something and I’ll give you the money?” and therefore adding to my already large workload.
One stress that has been removed in recent years, however, is buying for friends’ children and I’d encourage everyone to sign a ‘pre-nupp’ – a pre-Christmas No Unneccesary Present Pact. Since money saving expert Martin Lewis coined this phrase as part of the fight of the over-commercialisation of Christmas, it has thankfully become quite fashionable to reduce pointless present buying – especially of the plastic variety – and consider making a small donation to charity instead. It usually takes one brave parent to broach the subject, but then everyone else tends to breathe a huge sigh of relief and crack on with their already huge festive to-do list.
So it’s all about balance. I’ll still maintain my tradition of asking Santa for a Ferrari and he’ll maintain his tradition of not bringing one. Merry Christmas everyone!
BY CATHERINE LAWLER