Everybody has something to say about Christmas. “The whole thing starts too early.” “It’s too commercial.” “Twelve Pubs of Christmas crowd ruin it for me.”
But maybe, like me, they just love it.
Unfortunately though, the internet has taken a lot of the fun out of Christmas.
At least, it has for me.
And yes, I know some people are upset if you mention Christmas too early. They think November is too early. Or October when it is first mentioned on television. Or September when the first offers appear in shops.
Or August when the Brown Thomas Christmas shop opens.
Times have changed.
We were looking around furniture shops the other day. We are, apparently, in need of a new sofa. It’s not a subject about which I’m in any way knowledgeable.
As we stood to examine one particular couch, I couldn’t help overhearing a conversation taking place nearby. It was between a woman, who looked very happy having chosen some item of furniture or other – it’s a long process, believe me – and the shop assistant.
It began well. And she had her bank card at the ready.
It was when she asked when her furniture might be delivered, that the whole thing began to go downhill.
“January?” she exclaimed with shock, surprise and anger combined before adding, for good effect and a little more loudly: “JANUARY?”
The young man with whom she was dealing tried to speak quietly.
But her protestations about the family gathering at Christmas and relatives expecting comfort and “we’ve already sold the old one on Done Deal,” wasn’t loud enough to drown out the young man explaining that they had clearly advertised the fact that it was necessary to order in October to be sure of a pre-Christmas delivery.
He was clearly suggesting that she should have checked.
I would have.
You see, I’ve always been pretty good at Christmas.
Sometime during the summer, I think about the presents I’m going to buy and I start, and finish, my Christmas shopping early.
And I always did that shopping in shops. Yes, I use the internet. But not for Christmas shopping. Christmas shopping should be done in shops. Christmas e-shopping doesn’t have the same ring, or indeed jingle, to it.
I have very little sympathy for people who aren’t good at Christmas shopping. It’s an easily acquired skill. And it’s enjoyable once you know what you’re doing, you know the people for whom you are buying and you know, roughly, what you want to get and where to get it.
But I’m beginning to agree with those who think the whole thing starts too early these days.
I’ll tell you the real reason.
For many years, with all my shopping done and wrapped and labelled and under the tree, I used to love going into Grafton Street in the last few days just before Christmas, sometimes on Christmas Eve itself, just to watch people.
No, not people out carol singing or partying or merrymaking.
You could see them everywhere. Pure terror on their faces as they dashed around trying to buy that thing they had promised to get for Auntie Mary or, worse still, the partner or, worst of all, the child.
I know it’s not really demonstrating the Christmas spirit, but I had to stifle laughter as I saw the looks on the faces of people who have just been told there are none left, none, that is, of the item they had decided to buy for someone close.
And I could never help smiling, or maybe it was smirking, when I saw the shock on the faces of people entering shops only to find empty shelves in the area they had confidently gone to in the sure and certain hope of buying that gift their friend/partner/or child had been promised.
Sadly, I can’t gloat at that panic anymore because it happens in front of screens in the privacy of homes.
There are not quite 400 days to go until December 25, 2020.
So start thinking about it now. Don’t leave it too late again.
Make a list and, that man I’m afraid to mention is right about this, check it twice.
If this year is going to be a bit difficult because of your procrastination, well, next year’s will be brilliant because of your forward planning.
And happy Christmas – even if there are a few days to go yet!