Monday, October 02, 2006

Ding dong merrily on high

AS IF the arrival of October wasn't depressing enough, here's a thought to make you choke on your turnover this fine Autumn morning- it's only 83 fun-filled days until Christmas.

The shops have already started to fill their shelves with festive treats and I dare say it won't be too long until they are festooned in all their dazzling decorations to tempt the throngs of shoppers through their doors.
The reason I mention the approach of the big day is that this year, despite my disdain for the early arrival of the festive season in our shops, is the year I have promised myself I'm going to be super organised about the whole affair.
I have promised that come December I won't be staring at my meagre pay packet and trying to eek out the money for presents for everyone because I've not bothered my behind to plan things properly.
As a parent on Santa duty, I realise that stretching my December wages between the usual house-hold expenses, presents for everyone in the family and my Santa responsibilities could well be impossible.
The wee man is fast approaching three years of age and has an increasing awareness that Christmas equals toys and that he gets to make up a wish list all of his own. (So far his list consists of a real life Helicopter- you know, like the one that airlifted Richard Hammond to Hospital- and a freaky walking Barbie Horse.)
We are not intending to spoil him- and I'm pretty sure he won't be getting the helicopter or indeed the Barbie horse- but I want to make this a year to remember especially as I'm guessing it will the be the first time he really gets the concept of Santa.
I'm rather embarrassed to admit we have footage from the wee man's first Christmas of this doe-eyed baby staring at the lights of the Christmas tree while we, as sad first time parents, acted out our 'Has Santa been?' routine. Joseph was of course oblivious and the real magic of Christmas wasn't really there.
Regular readers of this column will know that last year, just as Joseph was starting to get the whole Santa thing, we decided to do our familial duty and spent the holidays with the in-laws in England.

Festive magic
It was lovely, but it wasn't the same as waking up in your own bed on Christmas morning and switching on the lights of your very own Christmas tree. So this year, with a toddler who is already getting ridiculously excited at the prospect of all the toys that will be heaped upon him, I'm relishing the thought of spending the big at home and injecting some of the magic into it that all nearly three year olds deserve.
But that is going to take some planning. I'm desperate to make sure I don't become one of those parents who batters the life out of another poor sod as we fight over the last 'must have' of the year in Smiths as the shutters roll down on Christmas Eve.
I'm sourcing the best books, toys and art material for this year already. I was even tempted to buy in a selection box or two at the weekend. The only thing that stopped me was the knowledge that I would no doubt get an attack of the munchies between now and December and the selection boxes would get raided. (Yes, it has happened in the past.)
Of course there is a serious note to all this too. Each year the less organised of us find ourselves relying on credit cards and the Credit Union to make it through the month of December.
The credit hangover inevitably lasts on until January and February which is never pleasant. After all the first couple of months of the year are tough enough, all dark and cold with no Christmas to look forward to, add to that a fat credit card bill and you have a recipe for Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Much as I hate the early arrival of Christmas in the shops it does at least remind me to start budgeting for the big day now and not later. I find I can no longer ignore it and even find myself singing along with the cheesy played out Christmas classics of yesteryear. Christmas shopping this early can actually be quite a calming experience. You can saunter around at your leisure breathing in the Cinnamon scent of candles and cooing over the delicate decorations for sale.
I don't get those people who purposely leave it all to the last minute and fight for the last tatty Poinsettia on a market stall or a lavender soap set with those evil bath cubes which never dissolve so that you end up with a bruised rear upon climbing into the bath.
Likewise, I can't be doing with those souls who are so financially astute they do all their Christmas shopping in the January sales and have it all wrapped from Valentine's Day. These are the folks who delight in spending the Autumn months boasting about their achievements and buying fancy shoes while your hard earned cash is being doled out on toy prams, sock sets and bottles of over-priced perfume.
Yes, I think it is time to give in to the inevitable and get shopping. Just keep me away from the selection boxes.

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