On the radio on Sunday I heard someone comment on how odd it is that every year on the 11th of December we are surprised to discover that Christmas is only two weeks away. Quite so! I seem to have been squirrelling things away in cunning biding places for months and now find that I am not in the least prepared. And so today I shall set off early for my Italian class in the hope that I can do some Christmas shopping beforehand.
Maybe I should follow the advice you get in article about not giving presents. Indeed, in some cases they involve people who have decided not to spend any money at all for a year. Some of them save enough money to be able to pay off large chunks of their mortgage. Of course, in order to live that way, you need enough clothes in your wardrobe so that you need not buy any new ones - probably true in most people's case - and ideally no children who are going to put on a growth spurt and suddenly find that all their clothes are too small. And of course, from the food point of view you need to be able to be self sufficient and have at least a small allotment to grow vegetables. So, without being too negative about this splendid idea, it seems to me that you need to be quite privileged to begin with!
Much more realistic is the young woman I read about who decided only to buy absolute essentials for a year. She got the whole family on board and they agreed to have no cinema trips, no subscription to Sky, no meals out in restaurants and generally no luxuries. She went to work on her bike. They all borrowed books from the library. Did they, I wonder, disconnect from the Internet? Could she have carried on working without it? Good question.
As regards shopping for Christmas food, it's a good job I serve up pretty much the same meal every year, with a few variations to include new recipe ideas I have come across. But in general it means I can fish out last year's food shopping list when I head to the supermarket.
The tree has already been decorated by granddaughter number two. She is also responsible for the gingerbread house, which she will probably be responsible for demolishing and eating.
In the Italian class this afternoon we had our Christmas party. Everybody took along some food or drink. I was reminded of the young people who come knocking on our door in Spain if we are around towards the end of the school term. They come asking for a contribution to the "fiesta de fin de curso". I am always tempted to ask if their parents know they go begging from door to door but I have not yet reached such curmudgeonly depths. However, I usually send them away empty-handed, rarely having supplies of biscuits and sweet stuff - chucherías - to hand.
One of our number this afternoon turned up wearing felt reindeer antlers. This is what I like to see: a bit of Christmas spirit. Time to start wearing my Christmas ear rings!