Tuesday 21 November 2017

We've been good, austere little boys and girls all year. We're allowed a few reckless weeks with this 'Christmas presents to myself' lark

Declan Cashin

The most dangerous eight words for the past few weeks – and for the next four days – are: "It will be my Christmas present to myself." It was a hard-fought photo finish between those and the almost equally lethal: "Sure, what harm can one more drink do?"

In both instances, you're shoring up future pain, and engaging in a massive delusion.

But 'tis the season, right? We've been good, austere little boys and girls all year. We're allowed a few reckless weeks to cut loose.

It's in that spirit that I approach this whole "Christmas present to myself" lark.

The reasoning process involved is rather simple. As a 31-year-old man, I can't very well bleed my parents dry with extortionate gift demands (pfft, I suppose).

Nor can I copy the example of some savvy 12/13-year-old relatives who know full well that the Santa thing is a crock and yet still brazenly push their luck by making wish lists of presents of similar size and scope that they did when they were believing tykes.

I taught them well.

On top of that, I'm single so there's no partner to step up to fill the Christmas pressie void. So, in true Carrie Bradshaw fashion (and I promise I'll get that worrying affliction seen to in the New Year), I rationalise that I'm in a relationship with myself. Ergo, I'm entitled to splash out – on myself. If you don't treat yourself, nobody will, and so on.

The problem is once you crack open that self-buying door at all, it's very, very difficult to shut it again.

There are the impromptu little me-gifts. You'll be out and about, steppin' into Christmas, when you spot that bottle of aftershave you've been hankering for. Sure, why not?

You'll step into that just-beyond-your-budget restaurant for a bite to eat. It's a gift to myself.

What harm in stocking up on some glad rags and shoes for the Christmas period? Shut up conscience! Christmas present to myself! La la la la la, I'm not listening to you, but you're still talking, I'm NOT LISTENING TO YOU.

And how do you fund all of this? Why, with what one friend of mine refers to as "magic money" (ie credit card), and if there's another phrase that so succinctly and precisely crystallises how Ireland got into its current state better than that, I've yet to encounter it.

Then there are the more thought-out gifts that are much grander in price and/or scale. And – I say this as I cockily flick my hair – I've managed to really out-do myself in that regard this year.

It started when my current 'smart' phone dropped a few IQ points to become slow, inefficient and blood-boilingly frustrating.

"Get yourself a new phone for Christmas," chirps up that little spend-happy voice.

"But I'm not entitled to an upgrade for six months," I argue back in true Gollum/ Sméagol fashion.

"What of it?" the seductive voice replies. "Buy a new model outright. It can be a Christmas pre ... "

"Yes, yes I know the spiel," I snap as I relent and start browsing for phones online.

AAt the same time, the idea has been forming to go on a visit to Australia in the New Year.

"If you don't go now, you never will," pops up the voice. "You'll get to see family and friends down there. You know you want to spend time in Melbourne to see what all the fuss is about."

"But ... but ... " I try to fight back.

"Shh, hush now, silly little boy," the voice gently chides. "Start looking up flights. Say those magic words out loud. Let me hear 'em."

"It will ... be ... my ... "

"Yes, yes that's it. Keep going."

" ... Christmas present ... to myself."

The voice sighs contentedly: "There now. Don't you feel better?"

"Yes," I concede, exhausted, exhilarated. "Yes I do. Happy Christmas to me."

Day & Night

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