Disorganised... but that's my Christmas
PUBLISHED: 15:10 13 December 2016
Every year, I make myself a promise to myself to be organised at Christmas, and every year, I break it.
At around 8.39pm on December 23, with feet throbbing, temper fraying and sweat darkening my brow, I swear to myself that I’ll start my Christmas shopping earlier next time around.
I vow that I’ll write my list in November, and have the shopping finished by the first week of the month; I’ll wrap my presents using paper and ribbon to match, cook cinnamon-spiced biscuits and nibbles, and waft my way through the festive season in a cloud of snowflakes, sparkles and self-congratulatory smugness.
The house will look like the centre-spread of a glossy magazine, and I will be there, backlit by soft-glow lighting and wearing an elegant little number that I “just threw on” for Christmas Day.
The choir of Westminster Cathedral will be carolling gently.
With any luck, it could snow.
I know I can’t control the weather; but as for the rest of it, with a healthy dose of preparation and planning, how hard can it be?
Well, as the old saying goes, if it was easy, everyone would do it; and judging by the queues into the car parks in the city and the flustered faces of my fellow shoppers, everyone certainly isn’t doing it.
I’ve heard of these super-organised creatures who do all their shopping in July and have it wrapped and under the bed by August, but they seem to me to be a bit like unicorns: talked about in hushed tones, mythical, and impossible to find when you need their help.
Besides, the thought of trying to do my present shopping in the summer makes me want to hide behind the closest poinsettia.
It’s hard enough to keep track of what’s happening on a weekly basis, let alone three months in advance.
It’s my opinion (or excuse, in truth) that there are more important things to do in December than waltz around with a Magimix or curl ribbon to within an inch of its life.
There are mince pies to be consumed, mulled wine to be sampled, and Christmas parties to try and forget the morning after.
Yes, there are presents to be bought; but this shouldn’t be a chore, and it’s a little sad that it seems to have become more about effort than enjoyment.
We are so lucky in Norwich that we have such a wealth of retail variety around us; not just the big-name department stores, but the smaller independent shops too, and a trip down the Norwich Lanes to some of the quirkier gems that can be found in the backstreets of Pottergate should result in something interesting to place under the tree (even if the main present is still a gift voucher).
Of course, everyone has someone that makes shopping impossible; there’s nothing quite like that moment of dread when you pull a name from the hat in Secret Santa and realise you’ve got to be seriously creative to find something for Arnold in accounts.
Family, too, can be problematic.
In some cases, serious thought is required from June, and you still end up buying the gift on Christmas Eve.
In my case, it’s my father.
He doesn’t like football, golf or rugby; he doesn’t drink whisky or drive classic cars.
He already owns every half-price polo shirt that George of Asda has produced, and he’s still using the same bottle of Old Spice that he bought back in 1973.
This is not a man that makes present shopping easy.
But gifts aside, even the wrapping itself is a challenge.
I can’t wrap presents unless the paper has guidelines on the back, and by the end of it, I usually resemble an explosion in a Sellotape factory.
I haven’t bought a tree yet, and I’ve spent more time drinking mulled win instead of making it. I’m starting to feel a mild sense of panic, more so than in previous years.
I should probably buy a present or two soon.
The chances are that I won’t.
So this year, I have given up on my promise earlier than normal, and resigned Christmas to the scrap heap.
I am going to float through the month, not in a cloud of satisfaction, but on the fumes of goodwill and gin.
My family and friends will have to put up with shop-bought biscuits and nibbles, and on Christmas Day, it’ll probably be Cliff Richard and a dress with a hole near the hem.
I’ll try to get my shopping done, but it won’t resemble the list that I made, and I know I’ll probably forget Aunty Janice and Arnold from accounts will end up with a tea cosy.
I’ll make the same vow as I always do on December 23, but I must confess that I don’t hold out much hope for the future; this year’s glossy centre-spread home was a write-off, and I
think it’s safe to say that unless Santa brings me a butler, a sous-chef, a personal shopper and a gift wrapper, it’s probably not going to happen next year, either.
But to be honest, that suits me down to the ground.
I’m used to it by now.
I’d rather be red-faced, flustered, panicked and happy, because to me, that’s what this time of year is all about.
So if you need me before 2017, you can find me beside the mulled wine bottles.