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Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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Laterally SpeakingPost Pandemic Presents for Christmas

Post Pandemic Presents for Christmas

In the olden days, I used to be very organised about Christmas presents. I made numerous lists of friends and family and then made more lists of what sorts of presents they might deserve or be lucky to receive. I would then try and buy the listed items online only to find that half of them were now either unavailable or only able to be delivered (presumably by a very tired Amazon reindeer) by mid-January. Of course, the older you are, the more relatives and children of relatives there are to remember. And I could never recall their names anyway so I would inevitably address the packages to ‘John, Mary and the family’ (which is at least polite even if it’s obvious I’ve forgotten how many kids they have let alone their names) or sometimes even to ‘Peter, Susan and Splodge’ (which was supposed to make them laugh). Splodge was the name of Aunt Ethel’s flea-bitten old fox terrier, so at least I might have got one out of nine correct! Except after I sent it, I remembered that Splodge died four years ago… Oops…
My sister is so well organised that she buys all her presents by the previous Spring. By the end of May, she’s got Christmas completely organised and done up and gift wrapped and ready to go. By contrast, many other people wait until the last possible moment (roughly December 24th) before embarking on a 12-hour Olympic marathon only to discover that the shops have sold out of everything.
According to all accounts, that’s what may happen especially this year. There will be shortages of just about everything because of Brexit or Covid. Instead of Christmas Turkey, try Yuletide Bacon roll. Or Poached Egg In The Hole. I do have a three year old Christmas Pudding which might surface this December if I can’t find a fresh one. I will warn the local hospital about a possible outbreak of tummy trouble in our area. If all else fails, there’s always fish and chips. Sorry, chips may be off, and so is the fish.
Well, that’s Christmas Dinner almost not sorted, so let’s take another look at presents ‘cos time is getting short (only 23 shopping days to go by the end of November). Here are Humphrey’s Golden Rules about buying Christmas presents…
1) Never ever buy clothes unless they’re one-size accessories like scarves or ties. I can absolutely guarantee your shirt, dress or underwear will need to be sent back for a different size. And you’ll waste a lot of time after Christmas trying to find the shop receipt from Next or John Lewis which may be impossible.
2) Don’t buy anyone you love exercise equipment or keep fit items. You might think you were being thoughtful and considerate, but any female recipient will be highly annoyed as she’ll assume you’re trying to point out (in a not-so-subtle way) that she needs to lose a few pounds.
3) No bath or soap items please—they’re just so predictable. The more lurid the colour, the more revolting the scent. Shampoo is too personal and spray-on deodorant too obvious. Anyone would think that somebody is in desperate need of a bath! This will not lead to a restful Christmas and you’ll spend the whole holiday period apologising… “No, of course I don’t think you’re dirty! Actually, you smell very nice!” etc. Not recommended.
4) Scented candles? No. Just don’t. They’re very tacky. If I received one as a present, I’d be upset you couldn’t have used a bit more imagination when thinking about me. Am I really that boring a person? Oh dear… And candles that smell of Lavender mixed with Loo water will not impress anyone.
5) Lastly, don’t give anyone Kleenex or masks or hand wash. Covid prevention stuff is SO ‘Last Year’, darling…
The buzz words of 2021 have included (in no particular order) ‘Climate Change’, ‘Greta Thunberg’ and ‘MeToo’. Oh—also ‘Recycling’ of course. If you’re in a Christmas cul-de-sac and you’re getting short on time, you can always fall back on recycling. Remember that nasty green bubble bath that Uncle Mike gave you last Christmas? It’s still in its gift box at the bottom of your sock drawer and therefore can easily be recycled to Auntie Irene for this Christmas. I’m sure she’d just love it. And your distant cousin Martin who talks too much? He might love that rather cheap and sickly bottle of sherry you won at this summer’s garden fete! Particularly if he used it as a whisky mixer. That would shut him up for a bit. Or make him violently sick! Whatever you recycle, just make sure you don’t try and give last year’s present to the family member who gave it to you in the first place. You may not remember, but they will, I assure you. And your Christmas Dinner will be filled with awkward silences and accusatory looks…

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