'The truth is Christmas would be perfect if it weren't for presents'

CHRISTMAS is so close now I’m getting used to living with panic. Every year I resolve to be ‘finished’ early, all presents bought and wrapped by December 8, writes Tric Kearney. 

I don’t know why I even think that because it never happens. As this last week rushes past, there are mornings my first words to my family are:“What day is today?”

I ask this in desperation, hoping they tell me it’s Monday and not Tuesday, that I have another seven days and not six of frantic shopping left. Alas, I’m always disappointed. Breakfast becomes a hurried affair so I can hit the shops before the crowds while I write another list which I’ll ignore or lose before the day is out.

The truth is, Christmas would be perfect if it weren’t for presents.

I’m one of those poor misfortunates who has no imagination. I hugely envy and, dare I admit, often dislike intensely those who buy perfect gifts. You know those thoughtful gifts where the giver spent hours researching their wonderful present and are richly rewarded by tears from the recipient and oohs and aahs from all who are gathered when the present is opened.

Once upon a time, I tried to be that thoughtful gift-giver, but it never quite worked out.

Take, for example, the first Christmas yer man and myself were together. Young love is often foolish, and I’d spent hours agonising over what to get him. Knowing him now it was time wasted as his wishlist each year is simple, ‘a shirt, socks and a new car’.

For days I wandered through busy shops, panic rising. I didn’t want anything too intimate as that might scare him off, but I did want something thoughtful, perhaps something he didn’t have?

And so I bought him a tie pin.

All I can say is if I were going out with myself that first year I’d have dumped me. What possessed me to look at a tie pin and think, ‘thoughtful and special?’ There was a good reason yer man didn’t own one already... he didn’t like them. However that jewellery shops ‘salesman of the year’ saw me coming and by the time I left I was convinced an expensive tie pin was everything yer man could want.

Needless to say, an Oscar-nominated actor could not have kept a straight face when opening my gift. To add to my misery, yer man gave me a beautiful gold necklace with a tiny diamond ring on it which 30 years later I still have, unlike my thoughtful tie pin.

Over the years my well-intentioned gifts have included a mountain bike, when he wanted a racer, jumpers, slippers and shirts which were never worn, books never read and innumerable gifts which were returned.

As each day races by and my limited imagination begins to shut down, the failure of past Christmases weighs heavy on my mind. Why am I bothering?

Perhaps it’s time to rethink presents. Given a choice what would I really like for Christmas?

Maybe someone to do the washing and ironing, pair the millions of socks and solve the odd sock mystery?

Or, maybe someone who is really able to fix things to come and fix things, as opposed to someone who tries to fixes things but sometimes they still don’t work.

As I am a little ‘tired’ after last night, maybe someone who would remind me that I went out early with the intention of going home early?

In truth, I think my only hope at this stage is a personal shopper specialising in ‘thoughtful gifts,’

As I look at my numerous lists with not enough ticked off any of them I catch myself muttering, ‘This is the last year I’m leaving Christmas to the last minute.’

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