The Mothership’s been on. As usual, the conversation began without preamble.
‘I don’t think you’re right in the head,’ (that was her her opening gambit.) You’re a busy woman, or so you keep telling me. You’d think you’d know your audience.
Some gentle probing finally unpicked what she was getting at. On Thursday I was on with Frank, giving off about supermarkets peddling their Christmas wares. In August. I mean, HEAVEN HELP US.
I’d popped into TK MAX last Sunday and had been affronted by the Halloween stock on display; but Christmas? That’s too much to thole altogether.
The Mothership had taken umbrage when I’d suggested that instead of stocking up on the tubs of Celebrations, that shoppers visit the charity shops instead, buy some pretty containers and chuck in some homemade treats.
Who has time to be standing scrubbing jars to fill with sweets that YOU HAVE TO MAKE YOURSELF? Who do you think you are, Kirsty Flipping Allsopp?
Now it was my turn to take offence, because last year I DID blend biscuits and melt chocolate and roll Bailey’s Cheesecake Truffles and they were, even if I do say so myself, MARVELLOUS. I mentioned this on Frank because I love thrift shopping and I also think it’s a nice festive activity to do before Christmas. The children could even get involved, although I added that an essential prerequisite is that they wash their hands well, as the recipient will be less grateful if they get E-coli.
The big stores have a quare cheek on them. They maintain, that by hauling out the holiday merch that they’re helping the savvy shopper manage their budget, but they’re a bunch of scoundrels, if you ask me. It’s all a cynical ruse to plant the idea that Christmas is just around the corner and generate anxiety for their own Machiavellian ends.
Their stationary will be full of notebooks with ‘Live For The Moment’ emblazoned on the cover, while the stock in the seasonal aisle sends us into a frenzy about a holiday five months away.
They know rightly, that most people, unfortunately myself included, have zero will-power. Who can resist the lure of a chocolate pick-me-up as the dregs of the year draw to a close, and you’re fraught and frazzled and foundered. Chances are that the tubs will be torn into. It’s a win-win for the stores, as they make double the sales. Case in point, there’s always a wine deal in Sainsbury’s* at the end of November. Brilliant, I say to myself, when I spot the jaunty bunting proclaiming, ‘25% off Six Bottles or more!’. Every year, I think I’ll organise my presents and have them all ready. And every year, without fail, we drink the lot, and back we go to replenish the cupboard, LSB’s ears ringing, amid such reprimands of, ‘I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU SANK YOUR DAD’S CHÂTEAUNEUF DE PAPE?’
So I’m not suggesting that people don’t budget to spread the cost, or get themselves organised early, or even that you go full-on Nigella in the kitchen. But there are other retailers I’d rather support, and local markets and charity shops need our money more. My advice? Find out what creative souls are in your area, making their own soaps and candles, cultivating and potting up honey and jams. I know what I’d rather find in my Christmas box.
*other rip-off merchants are available