In the past I have gone Christmas shopping at Greenwich Market. I’ve wandered around the stalls, picked up and fingered pieces of home-made artwork, seen little things that I just knew were perfect for so-and-so, or found exactly the notebook that blah had asked for. It’s probably quite an expensive way of doing things, but if you have no idea what to get people then markets are ideal. You don’t have to choose a specific shop to go to, and that’s why I’ve done it every year for about four years.
But this year, I haven’t made it down to Greenwich yet, even though I’ve bought a few Christmas presents already. At some point between last December and this December, Amazon and the world of internet shopping has become my first stop for gifts, books, music … you name it, and that’s where I will look.
I realised today that it was three weeks until Christmas Eve. Three weeks! Where did the year go? Although it annoys me that people start thinking about Christmas months in advance – you would think they only lived for that one day of the year – it can’t be denied that it’s exciting. You get to pick out random things for people, wrap them up, and then watch their faces when they open them; what could be better? I love having a pile of presents in the corner that I chose and I bought and I wrapped up, so I’ll never get things gift wrapped in shops. That’s my job!
And, of course, it’s nice to get presents too. I have to admit that I’m one of those people who uses Christmas as an excuse to ask for all those useful things I’ve just never had the time or money to buy for myself, like a camera tripod, new flat ballet shoes, or a pair of headphones to replace mine, which are broken.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember the whole point of Christmas. I’ve been going to church for my whole life and most of the time I count myself as a Christian (we all have our confused moments, don’t we? *grin*), but I still find myself wrapped up in the whole gifts thing. And everyone I know thinks about Christmas for the presents, even if they believe in Jesus and think that’s why we celebrate it.
Presents might not be the why, but they are most definitely the how in this country, and so many others.
I have a special technique for Amazon present shopping. I think of a person. Say, my friend Caitlin. Then I think of a word to describe them. In her case, it would be ‘nerd’, and I’m sure she’s proud of that! ;) So, I go to ‘All Departments’, and I type in nerd, and I see what comes up. I’ll flick through pages until I find the present that I know is right for her.
I feel a little guilty about doing all my shopping online because not only does it seem less personal, but it also makes it seem like I’m only spending a few minutes on that person, even if actually it took me half an hour or an hour of trawling to find the thing that was perfect. With my schedule it’s hard to find the time to get to the shops, that’s my excuse – but I know that at some point this December I am going to have to walk to the parcel office, because there’s no way there’ll be someone in every time an Amazon parcel comes for me these next few weeks.
I’m looking forward to Christmas because I want to see everyone’s faces when they open the presents I got them. I want them to see my face when I open the presents they got me. I’m looking forward to getting all the parcels, wrapping them up, and hiding them until a couple of days before Christmas, and I’m looking forward to the Christmas tree. I’m looking forward to the carol services at church and the Christmas Eve rituals we have, even though it won’t be the same without my brother there, because he’s working in Guildford that day. I’m looking forward to baking gingerbread and the Doctor Who Christmas special, not to mention the marathon I’m having the week before with some of my closest/nerdiest friends.
And most of my shopping will be done from the warmth of my room instead of the freezing cold air of Greenwich Market in December. Do I do it with any less love than previous years? No, I don’t. And I hope people realise that. Because presents are only worth as much as the thought that went into them, don’t you think?