Hello, hello. I have been stuck for the last two days in the middle of the hell that is Christmas shopping.
We are downsizing Christmas again this year. The two girls couldn’t think of anything much they wanted, and lists had to be wrung out of them using thumb screws. Neither Jason or I want anything and the only person with an endless list is the boy. This is allowed because he is ten, and excitable.
You would think that Christmas shopping when nobody really wants much would be easier, except that with a budget and very specific, if small lists, it means that everything has to be just right, and I have spent more time worrying about it than in the years when I have just thought ‘fuck that noise’ and loaded the credit card to the rafters with tat.
I think I have just about finished now. There is the odd thing, which as ever, is proving impossible. With my kids it is never the must have item of the year, because we’ve never done that. If they ever wanted whatever it was, they just got an IOU until after Christmas when all the fuss had died down and you didn’t have to drive to Azerbaijan to beat someone to death with your shoe for something they’d lose interest in three weeks later anyway. No, with my kids it’s the peculiar things they want that are not that easy to track down because they aren’t readily available in high street shops. Things like vintage Beano comics or corduroy dungarees. The internet makes this less stressful than it used to be, but it is still not as easy as it sounds when their needs are so specific and they are very definite about what they do and don’t like. So corduroy dungarees is fine, but ones with the correct width of cord and the right colour and not too tight and with this kind of pocket is less fine.
Still, they are all ok with waiting, and they know that if something isn’t immediately available, that even if it is obscure, we will track it down eventually and that waiting for something does not mean that Christmas is ruined. I do like to try though, hence the inevitable few days of madness when I am running around trying to source random, and I mean random, things from here, there and everywhere.
It seems odd that I don’t want anything. Regular readers will know that I am one of the wantiest people in the world. I am unashamedly an enthusiastic consumer and propper upper of capitalism par excellence. There is never not a rolling list of things that delight my heart and that I would love to own.
I have, over the last twelve months however, changed in quite a lot of ways and one of those ways is realising that my hunger for things has often been as much an addiction as someone else’s hunger for gin, or heroin, or crisps. I have been working on this, and the proof of the pudding is that this Christmas, despite being presented with an array of the shiniest of shiny things as I shop, I have not really been tempted to indulge. It feels rather liberating.
I have so much already and there is nothing I need, and if there is something I really want, I am in the lucky position of not having to wait until Christmas to have it, should the want be really pressing. My house is overflowing with things, lovely things that I adore and do not, for one moment, regret buying, but there is only so much one woman can own without turning into Elton John. I do not want to be Elton John. I’m not sure Elton John wants to be Elton John a lot of the time to be honest.
I am not, for one moment saying that this makes me a wonderful person. It doesn’t. I’m still the same flawed, ridiculous person I was before. I’m not saying that this will last. It might not. That’s alright. I’m just saying that actually, for me right now, it’s really nice not to be consumed with want for stuff. It’s not that when I have the things I want they seem hollow and empty, because they don’t. Like I said, everything I own makes me very happy indeed, but it is pretty amazing to be able to just walk away from things and not regret not buying them.
The last couple of days of buying trauma are a small price to pay for what I hope will be our loveliest Christmas yet. We are going away for the week before Christmas, to our favourite holiday cottage in the hills of North Wales. We are going to sit in front of the fire, reading books and eating buns and relaxing. We come home on Christmas Eve when I will contemplate whether it is worth wrestling the tree down from the loft. It may not be. Our Christmas day, as ever, will be quiet. It will be just us, the cat and the tortoise, eating too much, reading a lot and watching films together. I cannot wait.