David Miller: The Perils Of Christmas
The Perils of Christmas
It was not until I was at my parent’s place at the weekend that I realised that Christmas was closer than I thought. Every year my mother decorates all the windows of the conservatory with Santa Claus stickers, however this year she has gone a step better and bought some fairy lights for the tree. To be honest this all put me in a rather bleak mood. It is not that I do not like Christmas but I realised that once again I had left my Christmas shopping to the last minute and to cap it all off I have no idea what to buy. Usually I drag my mother along to make sure everything I buy is acceptable, but this year I am on my own. How will a 21st Century man cope with perils of Christmas shopping?
Last week I read an article in a magazine that claimed Christmas was just one big money making vehicle and the spirit had been lost from the festive season. The article claimed that due to the constant advertising and commercialism that accompanies Christmas, people had been forced into giving gifts rather than being able to give spontaneously. I felt there was some merit in this point of view but I did not agree with it. For one thing, Christmas is a time for giving and no matter how much you hate shopping and spending money at this time of year there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. Therefore the 21st Century man must accept this point and try and devise a way in which the ordeal can be less stressful.
Every year I make a promise to myself that I will do my shopping early in the year and make sure that I beat the Christmas rush and every year my promise goes completely out the window. The basic problem when it comes to Christmas shopping is what to buy. Usually this does not apply to other males as you simply look for whatever you would want for a present and buy them that. This is what I do when I am buying for my father except the last time around when he decided that he wanted the Matchbox 20 CD. It is females that pose the problem.
My advice when buying presents for females is to try and learn what they would like before Christmas arrives and if you have to ask them outright what to buy them do not be afraid to do so. This has led me to being accused of having no imagination but it was interesting to note that the person who made this accusation then told me exactly she wanted for her gift. I believe that having no imagination is better than turning up with a totally inappropriate gift, the same one you bought for her birthday a few months back or one that will never again see the light of day after the 25th of December.
My next piece of advice is do not rely on your friends to come to your aid. Last weekend I was having a few drinks with some friends when we started to discuss Christmas. Admittedly shopping was not the topic of conversation, instead we were reminiscing about how drunk we all got at a party last year and how one chap will never be forgiven for being late for his parent’s champagne breakfast and looking like a ghost. When the topic of shopping arose and what to buy was raised the group went decidedly quiet and everyone shrugged their shoulders and mumbled “God knows”. Then a few suggestions where offered. The one I liked the most was hot air ballooning and I thought there was some merit in this. It was much better than the others that I heard that night which included chocolates, a plant or some lingerie.
If you do not follow this advice you can be assured of a demanding time at the shops. You will find that you will look in every shop in the mall or city centre, ranging from gift shops to jewellery stores and for those who are totally desperate, the chemist. Each time you enter a shop there is always the vain hope that something will leap off the shelf at you which is exactly the sort of present you are looking for and that matches your desire not to spend a fortune. Invariably this never happens and after twenty minutes of praying for this, eventually a retail assistant decides to take pity on you and helps out.
The retail assistant is your saviour in times such as this. They have no doubt seen thousands of confused, frustrated and totally hopeless shopper’s pass through their doors and are highly skilled to deal with them. When they encounter you they will ask two standard retail industry questions. The first is “are you all right there?” This is almost immediately followed by “have you seen anything you like?” As your answer will be no to both, they will then take you through a list of options as though you were learning your ABC. Even though you will feel like a child trying to choose sweets in the candy store you can rest assured that you will find the right gift for that someone special. All I can do is wish my fellow 21st Century men the best of luck.