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Rebecca Armstrong: I would rather have Roses than mistletoe any day

There's a poster in the window of a card shop near iTowers 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."


There’s a poster in the

window of a card shop near

iTowers that has a sketch

of a pair of socks on it and

thewords “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 doorwarning

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 pitchperfect

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.

Mymother, on the other hand,

stillwails 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.

Any takers?