OK, so I’m in a bit of a panic here. With 14 days to go until Christmas, my Festive Status is thus:
Christmas present count: zero
Christmas tree count: zero
Christmas card count: zero (Great Aunt Shirley will be very disappointed)
Christmas spirit: flagging.
I did have a brief festive moment this morning in town when the Salvation Army’s brass band managed to play “Away In A Manger” just loudly enough to drown out the astonishingly dreadful Peruvian Disco/Slash-metal Panpipe man on the other side of the street.
But it wasn’t to last: as the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head and I smiled a warm, Christmassy smile to myself I was asked by a delightful gentleman to ‘Get out of the bloody way will you?Can’t you see we’re trying to do some bloody shopping here??’
So it was all, you know, as typically jolly and festive as a British High Street is 14 days before lift off. It also reminded me of what I was supposed to be doing, instead of listening to the carols: I was supposed to be shopping, silly.
So off I went, list in hand.
I tried to get into one shop, but it was a bit like getting onto the Tube at rush hour at Oxford Circus, only less pleasant: you had to let the customers out before you could get in, only nobody was showing any sign at all of leaving, intent as they were on buying more Stuff. Short of having someone at the door to push new customers in, the only option was to abandon ship. I mean shop.
Shop 2 had a queue at the till so long I reckon if I’d been stupid enough to join it I’d have got my presents just in time for Boxing Day 2011.
Shop 3 appeared to have just enough space for an anorexic squirrel to squeeze in, so I had a go. After a treacherous twenty-minute life-or-death journey from the door to the aisle, battling shopping bags, halitosis and an attack of killer Santa hats, I reached the shelf where the item I was after should have been, and discovered it was sold out.
And had been for three weeks.
This disappointing revelation was almost enough to make me down my (empty) shopping bags and shout:
“LOOK PEOPLE, IS THERE A RECESSION ON HERE OR WHAT??? [Actually, the official answer is ‘No, it’s still shit but not quite as shit as it was’, but still.]
I mean, isn’t this supposed to be a time of austerity, job losses, funding cuts and all-round skintness?? Aren’t we supposed to be scrimping, saving, making Christmas presents out of toilet rolls stuck together with gooey, cheap love, instead of clogging up every shop in town like hair in a bath plug, and staggering about in gargantuan, over-heated shopping centres laden with a hoard of massive shopping bags that wouldn’t look out of place in Sex in the City?
But I didn’t shout that, because that would have been unchristmassy and may quite possibly have got me arrested.
Instead I gave up and went home, and my credit card stopped hyperventilating. Once home, I asked my three beautiful children what they think Christmas is all about.
There was a long pause while the older two tried to think of a tactful reply which would sound like it wasn’t all about presents but would still guarantee some decent present-buying, and the little one got some snot out of his nose.
When he’d eaten it he said, “Mummy, I think Christmas is about love and all being together and having nice food and sharing and playing. But just so you know…I’d like a Lego Star Wars General Grievous Starfighter, some Gogos, a Puffle, a bow and arrow, more Skalextrics, a lightsaber and a new bike.”
Phew. Just for a second there I thought I’d have to get my son treated for chronic naffness. Instead I have another shopping trip looming.
13 days left. C’mon Liz. You can do it…