Friday 20 September 2019

Bairbre Power: 'In making my case for fewer presents, I'm not trying to be a festive killjoy'

Mid Life

We all love a gift under the tree, but I have enough tat
We all love a gift under the tree, but I have enough tat
Bairbre Power

Bairbre Power

Firstborn complained loudly that I was being too controlling about family gifting this Christmas. "But it's the thought that counts," he argued as I presented my case for cutting back on gifting lots of bits and pieces and instead, going for one, not too expensive present.

"A book token would be perfect and it would save on wasteful wrapping," I volunteered, trying desperately to not sound like a control freak.

That suggestion went down like a lead balloon because he was brought up on a culture of assembling Christmas stockings with lots of fun, personal but silly items. Now here am I trying to burst his bubble, all because with this grey hair of middle age has come very practical sensibilities.

I'm still trying to find homes for all the little trinkets I got 12 months ago. My stocking was quite the potpourri of thoughtfulness but I'm the one trying desperately to cull possessions in order to downsize. I've an abundance of stuff from five decades but not necessarily the space for it. I still haven't found forever homes for the hanging glass votives. Nor have I hung the inspirational bon mots painted on the French countrystyle driftwood I got from him last year. The tasty botanicals for my favourite gin were used up in jig time and then there was the mug... a big, shiny mug emblazoned with the word 'Granny'.

I'm sure that particular purchase was bought with a certain glee because he knows full well that my preferred third generation moniker is Nanny, not Granny.

In making my case for less stuff, I'm not trying to be a festive killjoy. "I've garnered enough tat in my life, I don't need any more so please, don't be wasting your money on me," I implored.

"If you really want to buy me something, make it small token," I suggested.

Mentioning the word 'tat' unleashed much amusement and firstborn declared he was going to buy me a year's subscription to a trinkets gifting site which he branded 'lotsoftat.com' which would unleash "all sorts of little surprises popping through the letter box for the next 12 months," he announced with a grin.

Don't get me wrong, I love gifting and like a lot of people, I much prefer giving over receiving. Matching the right present with the person or going out and buying something based on a casual remark you remember from the summer can often deliver the best gift surprise of all.

This month I've earmarked lots of different things for friends and family and most of them have one thing in common - they have an Irish-made bias.

However, I've hit a wall with the €30 Kris Kindle we agreed to do for the first time among four friends. It's proving the most difficult choice because I'm channelling their practical ways but I want to spoil them too. You can never go wrong with a lovely Irish-made candle, I say.

In the end, firstborn and myself parted on good terms. I recommended that he make a donation to charity for me and I went back to the tidying up and hiding stuff in cupboards to make room for the Christmas tree.

Like most people I know, I regularly succumb to pilgrimages to Ikea and while I go with a list for storage, I come home empty-handed, dazzled by all the different measurements.

The last time I picked up a bargain-priced milk frother, which cost a fraction of the ones on the high street, and I went back again this week to get some attractive boxes for the four-across, four-down Kallax shelving storage system I have. That's 16 boxes, enough for a lifestime's 'tat'.

I called it 'relocating' but it's really another word for 'hiding stuff'. You have no idea of how much I've accumulated between photos that need to be organised, frames without glass, odd earrings and orphan gloves.

Tree up, filled boxes housed in new homes, I was like a woman possessed as I polished glass doors in the house with a defiant amount of elbow grease.

I felt a pang of guilt as I polished out my stress with big strokes.

Was I being too bossy and too dictatorial in the gifting department? Do we have a right to give such 'sensible' directions?

Firstborn and I are having peace talks tonight and I'll wear my Christmas jumper just to prove I'm not a yuletide grinch, just a sensible Irish Mammy!

Irish Independent

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