Thanks to the weather based distractions that have been bestowed upon us lately, it's taken a while for the Christmas spirit to make its presence known, to me at least. Whilst I was starting to wonder if it had abandoned its effort thanks to the treacherous travelling conditions, it finally completed its journey last week, thanks in no small part to the drunken event that was the work Christmas party - the usual affair of free-flowing booze, food of questionable quality, and some awful, yet undeniably energetic, dancing.
The sudden arrival of my festive spirit meant that the fact I had only bought about 1/4 of the required presents finally transformed from a vague acknowledgement lurking somewhere in the depths of my brain into a full blown realisation that SOMETHING HAD TO BE DONE QUICKLY.
Yesterday was the day for Stage One of the Christmas Shopping Operation - a visit to the huge local shopping mall to collect an item I'd ordered last week. Not surprisingly, given that it was around -5 degrees all day, every other person in the city apparently had the same idea - especially annoying given that most of the kids finished school last week and were being dragged unhappily around by their parents, for the most part in a path that coincided directly with my feet. The simple task of making my way from A to B turned into something of an assault course, with direct routes frequently requiring a child hurdle, a pram swerve or (my most hated manoeuvre) the chav-stopped-in-the-middle-of-a-busy-path-to-have-a-conversation dodge. It is experiences like this which make my belief that I should be permitted to carry a cattle prod when in public spaces all the stronger.
After spending two focused hours on forging the most efficient path around the mall, I found myself with about two-thirds of my overall shopping done - a much higher amount that I had set out expecting to achieve. I had even mustered the sense to save buying the heaviest present until last - my usual tactic tends to involve buying the bulkiest item first without fully understanding the burden I am condemning myself to carry around. Not this time though - I was ready to go home, and bask in my success.
There was just one minor flaw to my plan: I had offered Fiance a lift home from work, and that would mean I'd get home, just about defrost myself after the minuscule amount of time spent outside, before having to head out into the bitter cold again. Despite my desire to put my feet up and have a relaxing cup of tea, I decided I might as well stay out until I was ready to pick Fiance up, although my thinning patience would not condone me staying in the shopping center any longer, as more and more shoppers continued to arrive with the apparent sole intention of getting under my feet.
A trip to the city centre formed the key foundation for Stage Two of the Christmas Shopping Operation - it has an advantage over the shopping centre in that it has a much higher percentage of independent stores. This was exactly what I was looking for, hoping that a simple browsing session would provide inspiration for those whose gifts I hadn't yet purchased. It would also mean I was in place to provide Fiance with his lift home.
Somewhat hesitantly, I proceeded to put Stage Two of the Christmas Shopping Operation into motion and pointed the car in the direction of the city centre. "Yes, on the same day as going to the shopping centre" I explained to a flabbergasted Fiance, who was entirely perplexed by the idea of spending a whole day shopping in two different locations - but then, the thought of a shopping trip that lasts longer than a couple of hours generally strikes fear into his heart, so I suppose his reaction wasn't all that surprising.
Shopping in town bought it's own unique style of assault course - rather than avoiding people and children (who had all sensibly headed to, and stayed at, the shopping centre), I found I had to dodge patches of black ice, swerve the remaining piles of snow that had previously been cleared from the high street but hadn't melted yet, and brush off the totally annoying flyer-guys who seemed to outnumber the shoppers at an alarming ratio (again, the cattle prod would have proved itself a most useful tool in this situation). Also, I had to manage all that while facing a temperature of -5 degrees which, I have recently discovered, is not a particularly pleasant climate to meet when dashing from shop to shop.
However, despite all the trials faced during my dual-core Christmas Shopping Operation I pulled through. I shopped and I shopped until everything Christmas was sorted. I even shopped for a new saucepan even though it wasn't required for a present. In short, I was awesome for a day, because only an awesome person can get Christmas sorted in seven hours.
Admittedly, I became somewhat less awesome after reading one too many chapters of The Deathly Hallows while lolloping in a lovely hot bath, which resulted in me being reduced to a warm and cosy, yet mostly brain dead blogger.