Monday, December 27, 2010

All over bar the recycling

Christopher the bear enjoys a few rays of winter sunshine. Yes, we are still in bed.

That's done for another year. I confess to spending the whole of yesterday in bed, eating toast, keeping warm, reading Any Human Heart, and rejoicing when the sun broke through the clouds to shine on Christopher, truly a bear for all seasons.

I'm getting better at it, but I don't think I'll ever be a natural. I hate enforced jollity, I hate having carcasses in the kitchen, and I hate waste. Christmas seems to be full of all three, unless you opt out completely, which I've tried, but then I just feel bleak and selfish.

These last two years we've had ex-housemate S, her Young Man, Tungsten, Particle and her in-laws over on the day. The in-laws bring much wine and a ton of cheese, S brings the turkey and we do the rest. There was a moment when the oven started leaking beetroot juice all over the floor, and another when Tungsten attempted to sabotage the beautiful-yet-delicate Moomin mobile we got Particle (textbook inner fury of the firstborn - I do feel for him, but he's not getting away with wilful damage on my watch), but on the whole it went off extremely well. No tears, no swearing. Well, not much.

And we had M's offspring and associated others over on Christmas Eve, where we had a vegetarian curry extravaganza with mulled cider and it was all fleecy blankets and festive warmth *and* they went home in time for us to have a small sherry and open a present each. Mine was a Rob Ryan tile, which made me cry a bit.

I tend to get excellent presents from M, because a) he knows me best, and b) he has an extravagant streak I haven't quite talked him out of yet. And I get good things from my parents, because I get to choose them. And a few other people stick to the failsafe brands - Hendricks, Dr Hauschka, Neal's Yard, Kniepp, Toast, Pukka Tea, Real Seed Catalogue - or simply look at my Amazon wishlist, which I endeavour to keep in reasonable shape at this time of year. These are things I would buy for myself if I had an extravagant streak of my own. You can make me very happy with a visit to a single corner of Boswells, if you so choose. Or you can not get me anything, and I won't mind at all.

But what I find hard is the gimmicky presents - "funny" books, novelty chocolates, DVDs that I'll never watch, chemical toiletries, things made of plastic then sealed in more plastic, generic girl-gifts that sparkle with man-made geegaws.

I don't want this stuff. It's keeping someone in business, but it's killing us all softly. When I get it, I put it straight in a bag, and take the bag to the nearest charity shop as soon as they open after Christmas. Each year, I swear I will broadcast that this is what I do, but I never quite have the balls.

So this is an aide memoire for next year. I vow to say to these people: please, if you don't want to get me something I would get for myself, save your money. If you still want to spend, do something useful with it. Build a toilet. Buy some sanitary towels for girls in Uganda. Get me some peace oil, man.

I'm a bleeding heart liberal, I know. Sue me.

Now I'm annoying the man of the house by playing tunes I remember dancing to in Blackpool nightclubs in the 80s. All together now, heaven must be missing an angel...


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Blogger Duncan said...

Today's Guardian spells hope for you: Return to Santa – Amazon calls time on the unwanted gift

Amazon have patented a system that lets you create rules (such as funny books or anything from Aunt Mildred) and automatically convert them to credit without going through that whole delivery/return/refund cycle.
Now all we need to do is get them to allow you to automatically redirect the credit to the charity of your choice.

10:08 am  
Blogger Jo said...

I saw that! Genius idea. I tried to take my unwanted wellies back to Next today and they weren't doing refunds. I am disappointed with myself that I didn't just throw the wellies through the door and walk away.

4:33 pm  

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