Virginia Barton

12 December 2013: Wine, chocs, puzzles, socks…?


12 December 2013


Astrid 3


Wine, chocs, puzzles, socks?
Scarves, seeds, tokens, cheese?
Books, pics, biscuits, flicks?
Games, pants, frillies, plants?
Scent, tea, music …

The rhyme has run out, but you get the idea.


As a matter of fact I’ve finished shopping, and the packing, wrapping and labelling. Famous for being the clumsiest parcel-maker in the known world, I have also torn up several misspelt sticky name tags, lost two entire packages of sweets, and spent a day flat on my back due to over exertion. In 2003 I actually got shingles precipitated by my Christmas factory. This ruled out lots of fun including the visiting of a new-born – our youngest grand-daughter.

Every year is the same: a vow is made to give everyone a card and no more (except for BH of course) and tell them all the cash we WOULD have spent on them is going to a Good Cause. And one year I really did get nice cards depicting a cheery bee-keeper that read: “The gift you would have received has gone to Bee Keepers in Tanzania.”

The disappointment was acute, and the disconsolate little faces heart-breaking. You can do that to adults but please, not to children! They did not understand, with the best will in the world, why Gran and Granfer had given something to bees and not to them.

Charitable giving has to be done with the left hand as it were, so the right hand etc. etc.


“What do you want for Christmas?”

“A Big Fat Kiss.”

My Dad always said that, and BH is no better. It’s just like asking him what he’d like for supper. “Anything you choose will be fine by me,” says he, not raising his eyes from his book or whatever. Grr. But if I insist he’ll choose something outrageous like fish finger curry which will be ultra-tiresome as there are no fish fingers in the freezer.

“Would egg curry do?”

“I had eggs for lunch, but just as you like.”

We end up having sausages. There are always sausages in the freezer – but they don’t curry well…



Books have always been a staple present. Perhaps I should put that in the past tense. Now even these are problematical.

“Only e-books,” said our son. What a facer! Does he know that not all the best books are digitised? How do I know what he has? Tant pis, books made of Proper Paper are wrapped anyway.

Daughters are easy: cash, dough, dosh, spondulix, as much as one can afford and the same for all. Grandchildren over sixteen years of age also receive cash but nothing like as much as daughters, just a gesture since there are 15 of them.

Oh dear, how times have changed, even the little ones would also like money please, and “something to open on Christmas Day.” The nine year-old is just within the scope of traditional toys which makes one feel Time isn’t running away altogether.

To pad out the presents bags (have you noticed how difficult it is to make a Significant Parcel of a cheque?) there are foodie items: mince-pies, chocs, wine, perhaps a game or crackers. BH’s book-room has morphed into Santa’s Grotto and he can’t even sit at his desk…


The physical effort of the above is now spent and the calendar up to January may be studied. I am as fussy about my spiral desk diary as I am about notebooks. Usually there is a decent Art one produced by Taschen – I’ve just about finished with Van Gogh.

But this year I could find nothing appealing — I really couldn’t live with Dali or Klimt for a whole year so I bought a liturgical desk diary. If nothing else this may keep me on the straight and narrow.






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