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Christmas presents: mission impossible?

Byline: John Avison ,

Now is the time to consider the purchase of Christmas presents.

This is one option. The other is to leave the country under an assumed name and head off for some place they don't go a bundle on Christmas, like Tadzhikistan.

The latter is appealing more and more as we stumble towards the season of goodwill.

And it's not that I don't have any goodwill. I'm no Scrooge.

I have much more goodwill than I have money.

And - here's the crux of the matter - I have much more money than I have present ideas.

My present ideas are like unto an arid, featureless desert.

Would Auntie Gladys like a chocolate orange?

I think not. She is on a diet. Auntie Gladys may yet get a chocolate orange by default, when the runway to Christmas Eve is burning with landing lights and my undercarriage isn't even down.

Talking of undercarriages, perhaps Auntie Gladys would like some flash lingerie? I saw some in a glossy mag recently while waiting to have my teeth done and was most impressed.

No, John. Buying one's auntie a little light underwear is, how can I say it, fraught with problems and potential misunderstandings.

Besides, Uncle Harry would go ape.

And he would not be placated if I bought him another tie.

Uncle Harry can remember how old I am by counting the number of ties languishing on his tie rack.

Better brains than mine have applied themselves diligently to producing, in total, a truly massive range of ideas for Christmas presents and indeed presents for all sorts of other occasions.

The desert exists purely inside my head.

Out there in the world it's a lush jungle, a sparkling Santa's grotto stacked to the gunnels with goodies.

I ought to do what everybody else does at this time of year.

I ought to be wandering round department stores and garden centres.

I should be thumbing through catalogues and brochures. I should be reading all the advertisements.

I should be making terse notes in the notes section of my mobile phone or on the back of my hand.

My wife mentioned a couple of early Decembers ago that she was short of a good sharp pair of kitchen scissors.

This was a light-bulb moment. What more prefect present can there be than one that somebody unwittingly confesses to really really wanting?

Lads: a word of warning. Useful and desirable though a pair of nice sharp kitchen scissors might be, do NOT buy them as a Christmas present.

You will be pilloried, mocked, scorned and ridiculed.

And she will never, ever, let you forget.

In my experience, presents impress most if they are a) expensive, or b) appropriate.

The winning combination is an expensive, appropriate present; but you can get away with an inexpensive present if you've shown perception, sensitivity and ingenuity.

Similarly, you will hear no harsh word from the recipient in terms of the naffness of the box the gaudiness of the wrapping paper if you spend a couple of grand on a nice pair of emerald ear-rings.

However inventive or generous I am over presents, I am always overshadowed by the efforts of my daughter, who has an uncanny, almost magical sense of taste and propriety when it comes to presents, and by my wife, who started making her 2006 Christmas present list the day after Christmas 2005 and was shopping for items on it in January.

Is this a girl thing? Blokes don't seem to be hardwired for presents.

Perhaps it's time for one of those TV makeover shows.

"Blokes? Is your mind a blank when it comes to gifts? Our experts will come round and teach you where to look for the ideal pressie.

"Soon you'll be buying presents with the best of them!"
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Nov 23, 2006
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