On the agenda: Batkid; Rob Ford; Breaking Bad; All Saints reunion; Christmas gifts


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The Independent Culture

Middle-class problems: Christmas presents

By Robert Epstein

Now, I don't mean to offend anyone here, but I have rarely given a Christmas present to anyone. There was the annual end-of-winter term bribe of non-brand-specific creamy liqueur given to my teacher, of course. But that was two decades ago. No, there's been no hunting-the-perfect-gift-at-the-last-minute nonsense for me. Not because I'm particularly mean, I don't think; but because I am Jewish and have never celebrated Christmas.

Now, however, I find myself thrown pell-mell into the turmoil of festive shopping, for my wife of six months is a great lover of the season and goodwill to all beings, whether they be friends, family or our vicious, vicious cat.

So now I am forced to confront those questions that have surely addled the brains of middle-class Crimble-holics for years, namely:

1) How much am I meant to spend on X or Y or Zoe? Is it reasonable to invoke the current spirit of austerity?

2) What if they don't buy me anything back? Won't that be mortally embarrassing for both of us? Will they feel forced to buy me something extra-special for my birthday? And then will I have to respond in kind on their birthday, at which point we'll enter into a perilous vortex of spending that no one wants.

3) What if I buy something so perfect that they burst into tears? Do I comfort them? Or will that only make things worse as I avoid the gaze of their partner, who's simultaneously wishing they'd thought of it and wishing me dead?

And then I remember it's our gift-guide issue. Problem solved. A copy of the mag for everyone!