All I want for Christmas

2007-11-30 00:00

It’s a peculiar thing, but the older I get the quicker the festive season seems to come around. As a child it always took an eternity, but nowadays no sooner has Auld Lang Syne faded out, than the Herald Angels are once again proclaiming from on high, Santa’s stuck up the chimney and Bing Crosby is dreaming of a yet another white Christmas.

Having only just evicted assorted members of the holy nativity, a straw filled manger and umpteen metres of tangled fairy lights from my lounge, it’s alarming to think I’ll shortly have to reinstall the whole lot again.

Worse still, I’ve barely succeeded in deflating my spare tyre, courtesy of too much Christmas cheer last season, and now I’m faced with the daunting prospect of repeating the feat. I realise this is my own fault, but in the absence of children someone has to eat the mince pies, fruitcake and chocolate tree decorations.

While I’ve no problem getting into the spirit of Christmas, at Christmas, I do object to being assailed with forests of twinkling trees, rollicking reindeer and other tinselly paraphernalia in mid September. I’d much prefer it if Frosty the snowman cooled his heels in the North Pole for a couple more months before serenading me around the grocery store.

On the other hand it’s probably just as well preparations get under way early, because if there’s one thing that gets trickier every year, it’s finding innovative and interesting gifts for my nearest and dearest.

The wads of glitzy store catalogues that clog my post box throughout the season aren’t much help. Unfortunately I don’t have one king’s ransom, never mind three, to splurge on jewel encrusted timepieces or exotic diamond belly rings, and the idea of my mother unwrapping a set of saucepans or a leaf blower on Christmas morning is one I’d prefer not to entertain.

Despite the convenient sentiment, “it’s the thought that counts”, when presented with an offering that clearly required no such thing, it tends to take the fizz out of one’s bubbly just a little.

Given he’s not a centipede, my poor father is only able to wear one pair of cartoon socks at a time and marinade himself in so many litres of aftershave. And frankly if the toe of his stocking is host to yet another soap on a rope, I fear he might feel inclined to put the rope to better use.

To aggravate the situation, my mother has declared a ban on all forms of confectionary (not wanting the anguish of wrestling with her own spare tyre in the New Year) and owns enough hankies to see her through several bouts of double pneumonia.

So having trawled the mall and still finding myself lacking in inspiration, I decided to enlist the help of my two young nieces this year.

“What does your Dad need?’ I inquired — my pen poised for the usual suspects.

There must have been collusion though because instead of reeling off socks, underpants and biltong, they proceeded to recite a lengthy and imaginative list — admittedly most of which was more unrealistic than the shop catalogues.

For instance I’m sure there’d be much rejoicing if I stretched to the quad bike, golf clubs or the plasma TV, but I don’t think anyone should be subjected to a pair of toe nail clippers as a Christmas gift — as much as they may be needed.

“And what about Mummy?’ I asked, hoping for another extensive, and hopefully more economical, inventory.

“Well, she’d like some peace and quiet,” piped up the youngest, “ so buy Dad the golf clubs.”

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