Christmas preparations are different for all of us this year.
We are all having to rely on the Internet even more than usual to help Santa fill his sack. The trouble is, I quite like to go out to actual shops. True, I can’t walk far and have to plan my shopping campaigns carefully to limit mileage, and, yes, even in other years I do buy some presents online, but, for all that, I do like an actual shopping trip.
The thing is, shopping online just isn’t the same for me. If I want to buy, say, jewellery, I want to know what it feels like. Is the pendant a pleasing shape? Is it smooth? Is it light or heavy? Perhaps I want to purchase a scarf for someone. I want to know, is it silky or woolly? Can I imagine the recipient wearing it?
I also feel some loyalty to my local shops. There are precious few left in the centre of Swindon and if we all sit at home clicking on links, there will be none at all quite soon.
There is also the question of the Christmas treat. I normally like to take my long-suffering personal assistant and friend out for a meal or an excursion at this time of year.
We were reminiscing only today about a trip we made to Gloucester Cathedral four years ago. They had the most amazing life-size knitted Nativity scene. Yes, really! They had hung the fabric characters on wooden frames to give them shape but they were, otherwise, all knitted. We had the good fortune to arrive as people were gathering for a carol concert, so we sat and listened to the beautiful sound of carols being sung in that wonderful building with its brilliant acoustics.
This year, however, we will have to be content with sitting at home eating mince pies and pulling a cracker, looking forward to better times.
No Christmas outing this year, then, but I have instituted the tradition of buying my PA and I each a pair of Christmas earrings. Despite having enough earrings to, as my father used to say, sink a battleship (a form of maritime ordnance which the Royal Navy hasn’t tried yet), there is, in my view, always room for another pair.
Some people collect stamps, I collect earrings.
I’m sure I will find an excuse to buy us some when shopping expeditions are a lawful pleasure once again.
So, yes, Christmas all feels rather different this year. I hope my nearest and dearest will bear with my lack of imagination this festive season but I hope to make it up to them in the new year. Meanwhile, there will still be good cheer this Christmas, carol CDs to play and rubbish on the TV – so perhaps it’s not all quite so different after all!