What happened? I literally feel like I am
still in September. Except for the whatsapp group that has appeared on my phone
for a ‘pot luck’ Christmas lunch that I a happen to be hosting. That and the sinking feeling that grabs me each day (often
while driving and bored of listening to the radio), when I am reminded that I
have not done any Christmas present
shopping yet. And, back home, our family is BIG.
Birthday cards and bunting are still hanging up in the kitchen following family
celebrations a month ago. It seems I am stuck in some kind of ‘time-stands-still’
The truth is I ditched the crowded craft
fairs this year in favour of sitting at home to ‘relax’. They just came and
went too early for me to get my head around, and now I’m regretting it. I’m
pondering over the idea of buying two dozen Amazon vouchers for nieces, nephews
and godchildren – if my credit card will stretch to that. With vouchers you
sidestep the issue of trying to get random (and often a faintly puzzling selection
of) presents wrapped and off to different addresses in and around the UK while
I am all the way over here sitting in Kenya. I wonder if Amazon does a bulk
order discount? Somehow, now that I am
verbalising these thoughts in my head, this voucher theme does not really seem
to be in keeping with the Christmas spirit.
Then there are our own kids. If we give
them vouchers that they cannot redeem for months, then the gift will hold less
“Yay, thanks for the voucher, now I’m going
to surf the net” does not really give you the same fuzzy feeling as pulling off
wrapping to reveal an actual gift.
The enduring ‘expat’ excuse every Christmas
is that we don’t have the sheer breadth of shopping opportunities in Kenya as
we would have back home but that excuse doesn’t really wash any more. Nairobi
is chock full of shops and Christmas decorations went up in the shopping
centres in October. But I have another excuse, over the past decade everyone
has received all the Kenyan themed presents they could ever want. Kikoy
trousers, dressing gowns, towels, soapstone animals, bracelets, necklaces,
beads, banana leaf boxes, books relating to Kenya, cute stuffed toys, kanga
aprons, candlesticks, bush hats you name it. The theme could quite possibly be
I am waiting for my own night terrors to
begin; the mental image of kids waking up on Christmas morning with empty
stockings. My husband and I have basically declared an amnesty on the exchange
of xmas gifts between us, as we both seem so adept at buying exactly what we
want, exactly when we want it, so feel we don’t really deserve anything else.
And to be honest, we all have everything we need. My eldest wants ‘vintage’ clothes that,
literally, I wore when I was that age. Having looked at her suggested
(global?!) vintage websites for a couple of hours, I could not bring myself to
part with any money online (seriously, 1980s patterned sweaters and oversized
fleeces?! The description says ‘expect some wear’). So it’s a trip down to
mitumba for her.
My friend in the UK told me that knowing
what everyone wants for Christmas and actually having access to it is not such
a picnic either, since a lot of wish lists these days are tech based and
woefully unaffordable. I tried convincing our youngest daughter to accept an
‘experience based’ birthday present in the summer, that involved the whole
family spending the day on adventure rides in Thorpe Park. She still feels
cheated. “What did I get for my 10th birthday again? In fact, did I
actually get anything?” She’s still asking 6 months later.
It’s time to pull my finger out. Before
school is out in two days (that reminds me; teachers’ presents!) I’ll be
heading to House of Leather for made-in-china stocking fillers. I’ll order my
turkey and ham, stock-pile sparkling wine. I’ll start thinking about what
everyone actually wants for Christmas, weighing up how many of those options
are even faintly realistic (at this late stage).