Once upon a time, Christmas was easy. I didn’t even think about it until mid-December, and then I went out and bought three presents: one for my mother, one for my father and one for my older sister. Price wasn’t an issue, I bought whatever my pocket money could cover (yes, this is pre-history, folks).
Wind forward a few years, and there were husbands and children and in-laws and their children, and things got more complicated. The number of presents and Christmas cards multiplied geometrically, the list of Things To Be Done got longer and longer, and it all became rather fraught. There was one memorable year when I bought and wrapped and (mostly) parcelled up and shipped halfway round the world 56 separate presents. I hated Christmas.
I learned to cope. I started early, in October, making the Christmas cake, and making lists (lots of lists). I discovered mail order catalogues, so I ordered stuff without leaving the house. I still had to wrap and parcel and post, but it was better. Computer printed address labels helped with the cards. Some practical relatives said: we don’t need presents any more. But I still hated Christmas.
And then there was this year. This year was a problem, because I spent most of November in Australia (which was lovely; I highly recommend it). But – no chance to make an early start. So, emergency measures were called for. Sainsbury’s provided the Christmas cake (and delivered the rest of the food). For presents, I decided against the goat-in-Africa strategy, which is heartwarming but not quite as much fun to unwrap. Some relatives got hampers of Scottish food, which went down well. And for the rest – Amazon came galloping to the rescue. Vast choice, shipped the next day direct on Prime and gift-wrapped. What could possibly be easier?
And for the first time in – ooh, a very, very long time, Christmas was easy. No trudging endlessly round crowded shops, listening to Jingle Bells on repeat. No increasingly desperate search for that last, difficult present. No carting oddly shaped parcels to the post office and standing in a slowly snaking queue for an hour. I haven’t been to the post office once, not once this year.
It’s been lovely. I can actually enjoy Christmas again. So – thank you Amazon (and Sainsbury’s and Scottish Gourmet Hampers and – you know, the whole internet thing).
So a merry Christmas (or whatever you celebrate) to everyone out there. And to me, this year.