My mother has a special habit. A few weeks before Christmas she’ll call me and be reasonably demanding regarding Christmas gift requirements.
She’s asked me what I want on the day. After we’ve got over the initial question of whether I want money before or a parcel on the day, we’ll both debate what I want and what she’d like to give before settling on the compromise to be unwrapped on the big day or whenever the day is me, her and my Dad meet up.
That’s how Christmas is. I’ve no problem with it. It’s lovely. It’s borne out of love. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Something different has happened this year however.
Only the other day me and Ma spoke at length about the combination of household requirements/Christmas gifts. She seemed spectacularly unimpressed with the basics list including large sieve, saucepans with lid, replacement garlic press and tin opener – really …. we’re in need of them. I’m sure I heard her laugh when I mentioned the low-key low-effort suggestion of a new houseplant. Our present rubber plant is on it’s last legs after all.
On the day of the website launch she rang to ask whether we thought we’d like a new cutlery set. Having spent a long time providing serious inspiration for a broad range of gifts, I felt like the disregarding the suggested present list might appear a little churlish. Cutlery seemed very kind even if it was unnecessary. And yet, as dismissive as this sounds, should I really accept something purchased by someone else I didn’t immediately think I needed just because I didn’t have the heart to say “No, I need and want something different.”
Christmas presents. They’re a bugger.
It strikes me the present list is a nasty little affair. If stipulating what items you’d like to receive on the big day is so very important, why not actually go out there and buy the damn things yourself?
The answer is that any of us – you know, us decent upstanding members of society won’t go out and do that for ourselves – we want others to do it for us. We want others to satisfy our every whim and we want to be taken by surprise. We want there to be guaranteed pleasures on Christmas Day and to be completely swept off our feet by something we didn’t know we wanted. We need them to do that. To provide them with a help-file or a series of answers to frequently asked questions seems like nothing more than a cheat sheet.
It’s a tall order, isn’t it? It’s a tough call for someone calling London from the regions seeking guidance on the one most important point in the year on which everything and everyone will be judged.
Hardly surprising, the idea of browsing the internet and bookmarking links to stuff I might be pleased to unwrap on Christmas Day seems like a cold affair.
And then I remembered .. weren’t we all encouraged to write lists for Santa? If it was OK when we were kids, why the bloody hell isn’t it OK to write lists for Santa now?