01 02 03 Africa Expat Wives Club: Crikey it's Christmas 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Crikey it's Christmas


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’ vortex.

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 appeal.
“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 wearing thin. 

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).

Bah humbug.....

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