Susan Morrison: Shopping for your other half is the gift that keeps on giving
This is Christmas Number 32 for me and the Grumpy Yorkshireman. Buying that 'special gift' for each other gets more, not less, challenging as the years tick past.
He is the man who has practically everything, if we are talking about essentials.
There are socks. There are aftershaves. There are jumpers, resolutely unworn from Yuletides past.
Gadgets lie unloved in dark corners of the wardrobes, such as the tie carousel. This cunning little doohickey, planned by some fiendish intellect, arranged ties on a cakestand thingumybob, which then revolves. The man in your life could easily locate his novelty Winnie the Pooh tie. Well, he could, if I hadn’t binned it.
Actually, that was a seriously rubbish gift, because whoever designed this didn’t factor in speed. The carousel spun like a merry-go-round on steroids, flinging ties off with gay abandon.
To be fair, he tells me that buying for me is equally challenging. I can see his point. Gift buying requires imagination, and that’s a quality that Yorkshiremen view as a frivolity, best left to vapourish sisters wuthering about on the heights, or Alan Bennett.
Why can’t adults write letters to Santa? Kids do. We positively encourage it. “Santa”, as we all know, then looks at the list, immediately discards the requests for real dinosaur eggs, a working Jedi light sabre and two live penguins, then mentally calculates the cost of the remaining attainable gifts and silently screams.
“Santa” knows that children will generally forget what they asked for and just be swept up in the sheer consumerist joy of getting stuff.
Mind you, my younger brother, AKA The Pest, used to keep a copy of his letter to Santa. On one occasion he began with the phrase, ‘To Whom It May Concern’, and ended with a somewhat lofty, “and any other toys suitable for a boy my age”. He would line up the Christmas booty and tick it off on his own list, like Santa’s little stocktaker. Whilst his back was turned I’d steal the fudge from his selection box.
As adults though, the letter to Santa is no longer the done thing. We are expected to surprise the love of our lives, by somehow remembering that little hint they dropped in March about learning to play the kazoo, which we don’t, because we weren’t listening.
Yorkshiremen do not do hints, but they can do surprises. There was the year of the athlete’s foot powder. The year of the Afghan woollen socks that reeked so badly we had to leave them outside the front door, and the year of the facial hair removing gizmo.
A letter to Santa might just head off Christmas day huffs.
Please pass the peppermint foot lotion, George
At this time of year I spend a lot of time in the bath. I’m probably not alone. Generally, I mean. If there was someone else in my bath I’d have something to say about it.
Long hot soaks should always be solo, and for the enjoying of some rubbish magazines and a gin or two. Of course, when I say “always be solo”, I am up for rethinking if Mr Clooney is reading this.
There is a backlog of bubble bath to use up. It’s the husbands fallback position. He gravitates towards the Body Shop and bingo, it’s another bottle of strawberry scented something in a gift box, although one year he came a cropper with the peppermint foot lotion.
Couples were centre of attention
Never thought I’d say this, but I miss the St James Centre at Christmas. I used to stroll about and watch the young couples, holding hands and looking in the windows. You could tell they had only met in the past year. Well, for one thing, they’d be talking to each other.
He would be actually shopping for presents like he was really enjoying it. A world of gift buying stretches ahead of them. They have not bought each other anything before. The choices are endless.
He would point at expensive things in the windows of H Samuel or ask about pricey perfume in John Lewis. She would smile and point to something even more expensive.
His neatly wrapped presents already lurk in a dark corner. Who doesn’t love a Christmas jumper and a tie carousel?
Just be good for goodness’ sake
None of you would ever be on a list that Santa would be checking twice, because I just know you’ve all just been good for goodness sake. I can’t imagine you being naughty when you could be nice, and as for sleeping when you should be awake, nope, not you guys.
Santa will read all your letters and bring the best of goodies on his sleigh. He might even drop off a novelty jumper, and remember if he does, you wear it with pride, my friend, even if it lights up.
All the very best of Christmases to you and yours, with whistles, bells and party hats on.