It’s December, and that means it’s officially allowed to be Christmas.
The great rush and push towards the big day really does start earlier each year. I spied my first Christmas advert on Facebook on holiday in Mallorca in mid-August.
Too many of us are afflicted by premature tree-jaculation, dangling all kinds of festive nonsense off our houses while the whiff of cordite from Bonfire Night is still in our nostrils.
I don’t want to panic you, but by the time you’re reading this there’ll be less than three weeks to Christmas Day. I panicked myself writing that. No doubt I’ll see you in Boots at 3.20pm on Christmas Eve, trying desperately to remember the name of the perfume from that advert where an actress struts out of a swimming pool in slow-motion while maintaining eye contact.
But here’s the thing. We talk about this at the same time every year and it goes in one ear and out the other. If you only remember one thing you read this week, make it this: please don’t get yourself into more debt this month by buying stuff you can’t afford.
Here’s a simple test to prove that all the worry isn’t worth it. Can you remember what you got for Christmas last year? Course you can’t. Nobody can. It’s like trying to recall where you went on holiday in 2009 (Cornwall, since you ask, in a holiday park chalet, near St Ives, that wasn’t fit to keep cattle in. It turned out to be one of the best times we had).
There’s loads of ways to rein it in: present amnesties between adult siblings, set limits and stick to them, and the biggie, if you can, stick a few quid in a jar every month throughout the year and when December comes, that’s your pot. The boss does this, and, like a lot of women, has the ability to stretch money out and make it go further in a way that is beyond comprehension.
Now our kids are 20 and 17, presents are easy. Money. Daughter #1 worked out that saving up and buying a new phone outright while keeping her SIM-only deal costs about half what you’d shell out during a 24-month contract.
Bright kid. Will be running the country in 10 years.