Tony Allen: And finally... Christmas – it’s a wrap!

Dec 20 | 2022

So here we are, with the speed of lightning and a crack of thunder, it’s almost Christmas. I can’t believe it, and I’m only just recovering from our summer holiday.

Tony Allen - and finally ... Presents will have to be purchased in the context of an ever-increasing family during a time of great joy and where our finances decline in inverse proportion to the number of family members. This situation is also aggravated by the fact that the lady of the house has discovered the joys of online shopping. Whatever happened to: “I’ll never get used to this, I much prefer a proper shop where I know what I’m buying.” Our local parcel delivery man has almost become a family member, I fully expect to see him sitting at our table for Christmas lunch.

According to our local gardening centre, Christmas officially started at the beginning of October; it seems to begin earlier each year. It’s a bit unnerving to be humming ‘Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly’ when we haven’t even had Halloween – which, incidentally, I understand was invented by the pumpkin industry who previously revelled in the soubriquet of producers of the most tasteless fruit in the world – yes it really is a fruit.

How’s your Christmas present regime? You know, what to buy? How to be imaginative? How to avoid leaving it to the last minute? Which, each year I promise myself – unsuccessfully – not to do! Goodness me, I’ve only got one person to buy for. All the other presents are under the control of the ever-resourceful Mrs A. I mope around for days on end waiting for the arrows of inspiration to strike, and I’ve not only got to give just one present, it’s two, three or more. Oh woe is me! What to do?

And then over breakfast a potential idea for a present is gently dropped into the conversation, along with a subtle comment that amounts to: “I’ve got more handbags than I know what to do with!”

Anyway, that’s it, I’m saved, it’s a close-run thing, time is usually running out. Pay through the nose for next day delivery? Who cares; I’m on top of the world. One problem – when I seek to buy it online it’s flipping well out of stock. I don’t believe it. The country’s going to pot.

I do, however, find the illusive trinket in a distant department store. I drive miles to buy it, and of course at a more expensive price than originally anticipated. I also manage to add a few additional items to make up the gift numbers. A friend of mine in an act of final desperation once bought his partner a toaster for Christmas. This did not go down well, and I try not to remind him of his obvious lack of consideration, but it still seems to pop up every year. Anyway, I must confess that at this stage I normally experience a great sense of relief.

Of course, there is another side of the coin.  I’m asked if I’ve done my Christmas list and I reply that I haven’t.  In fact, I can’t think of one single thing that I need. I’m told that I had better get my skates on because the family are asking (skates, that’s a good idea) and it’s suggested that I don’t include jumpers, socks or handkerchiefs. Somehow, I always manage to cobble together some sort of a list which is usually oriented towards either music or gardening, but honestly I’ve got more pairs of maracas than you can shake a stick at and more gardening gloves than Monty Don.

One other Christmas confession to make before I go, is that I really don’t like turkey, I think it’s the turkey’s way of punishing us for ruining it’s Christmas – but I would appreciate you keeping this to yourself, because come Christmas I pile my plate high and resourcefully spend time hiding as much turkey as I can beneath the Brussels sprouts. Frankly I’d sooner have steak and chips, but that’s rare at Christmas.

And there we are; yet another year is coming to a close and I hope that it’s been a good one for you in spite of a seemingly rapidly changing world. Fortunately, the only thing that doesn’t seem to change is the festive season. Which gives us the opportunity, not only to escape from reality, but to meet up with family and friends, and of course to remember those who are worse off than ourselves or who have gone before.

As always, I’ve really enjoyed completing yet another year of monthly articles, so all it leaves me to do now is to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.