Saturday 21 September 2019

John Masterson: Help! The ghost of Christmas present(s)

Channel 4 News anchor Jon Snow (Jane Barlow/PA)
Channel 4 News anchor Jon Snow (Jane Barlow/PA)

John Masterson

This time last year I was sporting a smug look. I was one of the few people on the planet with my Christmas shopping done.

Through the year I had picked up odds and ends for the people on my list. Each gift, usually fairly small, was clearly hand-picked with the recipient in mind. I laid them out in their respective piles. They met every criterion. The ones that would be on aeroplanes were light and unbreakable. The ones that would be under trees were unguessable. If I say so myself it was a masterclass in Christmas present preparation.

The day arrived and there were plenty of 'oohs' and 'aahs' and the general consensus was that I had done a superb job.

Where I was short on quality I was long on quantity. I had comfortably stayed within budget without looking cheap. The only money I included were a few Taiwanese dollars that I had left over and they weren't going far on that. I had set a new gold standard in thoughtfulness, not my strong suit.

My mistake was to set such a high standard. The only thing that could follow was failure and I am now staring it in the face. The cupboard is bare, with the exception of a supply of T-shirts commemorating the Pope's visit to Ireland which I was unable to leave in the shop once they had dropped to €2. I do not have a single idea in my head. And the days are passing very quickly.

I am surrounded by people who no longer buy CDs, DVDs or in some dreadful cases, books. I shared my plight with all and sundry. Apparently a lot of people, who are dealing with grown-ups who already have more rubbish than they need, set a family budget. This does not solve my problem.

I am thinking of sending out a circular to my present giving and getting group suggesting a budget of €10 and stressing the 'it is the thought that counts' message. This may also flush out someone I had totally forgotten. It has happened in the past and it is mortifying.

Some years back Jon Snow of Channel 4 News was the only person on the planet who wore brightly coloured socks. Now everybody does and they are cheap and cheerful. They put a smiles on faces and at the moment seem to me like the ideal present.

Another thing on the list is a personalised Christmas tree decoration. This will last for ever and bring back memories each year. It has the added advantage that you can buy local and if we don't buy local our rural towns will go the way of CDs and DVDs. Every euro you spend is a vote for the type of community you want.

Now to a more important topic. What is there on my Santa list? For those who think I have been very, very good there is the new Harley Davidson electric bike. I don't think it is out yet, and I don't hold out much hope in any case. I did have a spin on the BMW electric push (not that you push these days) bike and loved it but I don't think anyone will spring for that either. I will settle for socks. No dull ones please.

Having counselled myself for the last few hundred words, I now know that if I carry out this plan I will face exterior darkness. So back to panic. What am I going to get everyone for Christmas? This is a nightmare.

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