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Tis the season to be jolly…well rushed off your bloody feet

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“I’m going Christmas shopping today,” announces a mum this morning as we wave our offspring into their classrooms. I say wave. These days, I pretty much drop-kick my son into school, barely breaking stride as I turn tail and hurry off to a meeting / networking / my desk.

My to do list stares up at me from my desk, a jumble of client work and domesticity, with ‘washing’ underlined three times as the entire family is at risk of having to go commando as we are all running out of clean pants.

Aah. Christmas shopping. I have quite a nostalgic feeling about Christmas shopping, now I don’t actually get to do it. Don’t get me wrong, I still buy presents – I just don’t physically step foot inside retail premises to do so. In days gone by, I would peruse the shops, discovering trinkets, baubles and gifts that would amaze and delight. I would soak up the Christmassy atmosphere created by a jazz rendition of Jingle Bells and Frosty the Snowman played on a loop through cheap speakers, whilst selecting presents with enormous love and care. I might even stop for a coffee at a High Street coffee shop, where my cappuccino would be carefully embellished with a cocoa powder snowflake, just in case I wasn’t feeling enough Yuletide love yet. (I did warn you I felt nostalgic about it, because frankly, I can’t be sure any of that actually happened. The trouble with nostalgia is that it is constructed on the shifting sands of post-rationalised joy and over-wrought sentimentality, but isn’t that pretty much what Christmas boils down to? Well that and over-eating).

As I raced back home to the office from school, I wondered what it would be like to be able to spend the whole day Christmas shopping rather than working. Working for yourself means that you rarely take those odd days off. You would think that having to fill in a holiday form, check that no one else that sits within a hundred foot radius of you wants to take that same day off, then get it signed off by a manager who hands you back the form with the air of someone who has just signed her own death warrant, would be harder than simply deciding one morning to sod it and naff off to Westfield. Ironically, it seems not. My to do list stares up at me from my desk, a jumble of client work and domesticity, with ‘washing’ underlined three times as the entire family is at risk of having to go commando as we are all running out of clean pants. I always knew that working for yourself would mean spinning lots of plates, I just hadn’t bargained on spinning a whole load of dirty underwear too. Being faced with all those tasks, taking a day off to go Christmas shopping just doesn’t seem that viable. It’s not even as if you can hand over the most urgent jobs to a colleague to muck it up royally in your absence. I have implored my stapler on many occasions to just rustle up a draft proposal or two and update the website, but I tell you. You just can’t get the bloody staff these days. Oh no, that’s right. I don’t actually have any staff.

Which one of you is telling the truth? Damn you reviewers, with your independent thinking and opposing views. I scroll back again, looking for signs in their eight line review that they are a borderline psychopath and should not be trusted.

So the Christmas shopping has to be slotted in between those proper jobs already jostling for attention on my to do list. I start to prepare for a presentation, then get momentarily distracted by an idea for a stocking filler for my two year old. From experience, I know I have only moments to remember this brilliant idea before it trickles out of a brain orifice. You may not know that brains have orifices, but I am pretty sure they do. Mine definitely has one. It is the Orifice of Lost Thoughts, and has a gravitational pull on ideas way beyond the usual earthly tug. It sucks into oblivion any transient thought that isn’t quickly tethered to a synapse, or even better, a Post-It note. So now I am in a dilemma. Do I finish this slide or pop over to the internet to find some Fireman Sam cutlery? PowerPoint or the Hero Next Door… what to do… I hurriedly throw a few more words onto PowerPoint, click open Google and type in… nothing. It’s gone. What was it? If I wait here long enough, poised over my keyboard, hands hovering mid-air like some dumbstruck meerkat, it will come back to me. But it doesn’t. Of course it doesn’t. My brain is filled with work, and fatigue, and dirty pants, so I sigh and return to my presentation.

I have quite a nostalgic feeling about Christmas shopping, now I don’t actually get to do it. Don’t get me wrong, I still buy presents – I just don’t physically step foot inside retail premises to do so.

And so the Christmas shopping continues in such a manner. At any one time I have approximately thirteen web browser tabs open, the majority of which are a selection of pages showing Lego sets, remote controlled Batmobiles and spy kits, but these are interspersed with sites I am using for work reference. (And there may be Facebook open, but I couldn’t possibly comment). Where did the joy of Christmas shopping go? I ping frantically from one site to the next, scrolling through reviews like a maniac. ‘This toy is great, my son loves it!’ Great, I shall definitely buy it then. ‘This is the biggest waste of money EVER!’ Oh wait. Which one of you is telling the truth? Damn you reviewers, with your independent thinking and opposing views. I scroll back again, looking for signs in their eight line review that they are a borderline psychopath and should not be trusted.

I then stumble across The Pop Up Book of Poo whilst I am supposed to be researching a new client and buy it immediately. Because, let’s face it, it is about the most accurate metaphor for Christmas shopping that I can think of.

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