X-30 Here's a special message to the very select group of my readers who regularly buy me Christmas presents every year. This year, don't bother.
<Insert usual rant about over-commercialisation, rampant consumer spending and how Mary and Joseph never spent the whole of November down at the local market buying glittery tat for their new-born youngster>
Several years ago my family and I came to a mutual understanding regarding the purchase of my Christmas presents. They were never quite sure what presents I wanted so, rather than waste money on something superfluous, they set me a notional price limit and left me to go and buy presents for myself. I'd then scour the festive shelves in search of various goodies I might actually want, buy them myself, wrap the lot and stockpile them away. This simple plan avoided them the embarrassment of buying me inappropriate gifts that I didn't want, and saved me the embarrassment of having to pretend to like them. And the surprise of opening my presents on Christmas morning was still there, but just for the rest of my family, not for me. "You bought that?" "Yep, and you paid for it, thanks." Trust me, the plan worked.
But this year I may have a problem. This year I can't find any presents I actually want. This frightening realisation hit me a couple of days ago in the middle of a high street shopping mall. A visit to a bookshop usually yields results, but this year's selection of new titles looked less than impressive. Why would I want to buy any of the one-joke novelty volumes that the publishers appear to have rushed out in time for Christmas? Maybe I made a mistake buying several books back in September, but there's been precious little original stuff published since. It was much the same story in the record shop nextdoor, where I found piles of inoffensive MOR blandness and several repackaged compilations but precious little recent brilliance. Elsewhere on the high street I baulked at over-packaged toiletries and over-priced gadgets. I turned up my nose at the usual pointless festive novelties, purchased for the unfortunate by the desperate. And I disregarded countless non-urgent household items which I'll be able to buy at half price if only I can hang on for five more weeks. So I gave up trying to buy myself anything whatsoever.
I fear I may be turning into my Dad. He's always said that he'd be happy if nobody bought him anything for Christmas (which is a pity, because he's actually the easiest member of my family to buy things for). And this year, finally, I agree with him. There really is nothing I want for Christmas, and it would simply be a waste of everybody else's money if I squandered time buying myself gifts just for the sake of it. There's quite enough waste in the world already, I reckon, without me adding to that total this Christmas. Don't worry Mum, I'm still perfectly happy to traipse round the shops buying gifts that I hope everybody else in the family might like, because I'd hate to let the rest of you down. But on Christmas morning I'll be perfectly content to sit there watching the rest of you opening your presents without having any of my own in front of me. Honest. Go on, make my Day.