There's a poster in the window of a card shop near i Towers that has a sketch of a pair of socks on it and the words "Just so you know, I have enough of these. Merry Christmas."
Aside from the fact that I was so astonished that, given the shop's usual stock of cards that read: "Happy birthday to a ******* ****" and: "Hello, you ******* slapper!" and a sign on the door warning customer about the potentially (!) offensive products within, there were no swearing elves or cussing Santas in the window, I was slightly saddened by this casually ungrateful seasonal snippet.
Of course, we all like to get pitch-perfect presents under the tree. That's why letters to Father Christmas and their grown-up, and significantly less cute, equivalent, website wish lists that can be emailed directly to friends and family, with handily embedded links, exist. Because even the most saintly among us have felt, at one time or another, the little droop of spirits that comes with receiving a gift that hits our particular heart-sink sweet spot. We know we should be grateful and that it's about the giving not the receiving, yadda yadda, and yet... try telling that to my husband as he opens a tin of Cadbury's Roses. This is his heart-sink gift, you see. He would actually rather have nothing at all than two score and 10 gaudily wrapped chocs to chomp through all Christmas.
My mother, on the other hand, still wails and gnashes her teeth at memories of receiving carefully wrapped presents that look like a bottle of fizz, feel like a bottle of fizz, but are actually bubble bath/chocolates housed in an ersatz bottle of fizz. Boom! Boom! But to go back to the woollen offenders in the card-shop window, one man's socks are another's bottle of Scotch – a thrilling treat. My father so loves new socks, in fact, he has been on the radio to tell the nation about why, when he's king, he'll wear new ones every day of his reign, thanks very much. (Don't worry – he'd launder the worn ones and give them to his subjects.) For me, Roses are a smashing present. OK, so I don't like the way they've mucked about with the flavours in recent years, but they're tasty, feel extremely Christmassy and you have a nice useful tin left over to keep precious things (biscuits, passports) in.
And that's why we should take refuge in gifts that leave us cold – after a bit of bucks fizz and breakfast, some surreptitious swapping can begin.
I'll happily exchange a "Keep Calm at Christmas" novelty book for some Golden Barrels.
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