How many of you don’t have your presents yet?
I am fortunate enough, because of the launch of The Christmas Spirit being on December 1st, to have done almost all my Christmas shopping in November. In recent years, I had adopted the practice of buying everything I could online, as I hate shopping at busy times and I loathe queues. For me there is nothing less Christmassy than feeling stressed, being jostled by fellow shoppers and being faced with weary looking shop assistants. But buying online doesn’t always go to plan and often involves driving miles to some courier depot to pick up the parcel (cue me on Christmas Eve a few years ago) as otherwise it won’t arrive in time.
Three years ago, we had terrible snow and deliveries were backed up so bad, that orders I placed on 20th Dec arrived on time but those placed on 6th didn’t! It was a logistical meltdown. Then there’s having to return items, which is just a pain in the backside.
This year I did still order some items online, but was surprised to find more than half was actually bought in person. OK, I took my then seven-month-old daughter shopping in October to Mothercare, just to see what toys she liked, and then bought them, so that’s how that trend started.
Our high street where we live isn’t much good (Mothercare was in the next town), but I managed to buy clothes for my nephews, although their toys were bought online. Quite a few members of the family have asked for vouchers (which I must remember to buy before the big day!) but we did have one proper shopping expedition as a family - to an out of town mall. We actually bought some things there this year - last year we went and returned empty-handed.
I saw a programme recently about supporting your local high street and I thought about what I had bought locally - clothes, cards, and well, not really a great deal else. Everything had been bought from retail parks, out of town malls or online. Sad, but true. To my knowledge there is no longer a toy store in my town, so where was I to buy gifts for children? We have no bookstore, only a newsagents doubling as one. And this in a town of 50,000 people...
Meredith in The Christmas Spirit, although initially coming across as a bit of a Bah Humbug, is very generous where gifts are involved and always manages to pick out the perfect present, with no expense spared. I like to pride myself in being the same - although since I am not massively rich like Meredith, I do have an upper price limit! This year Meredith needs some help with her present buying and her assistant Sophie does source a lot of it online.
Rebecca, whose finances have been somewhat constrained by having split from her boyfriend, and having to fund a property on her own, breathes a sigh of relief that she already bought one of the most expensive presents months ago, but still has to pare back on what she buys everyone else.
Stanley has never had to think about presents before, except for those for his darling wife, Edie; she always took care of the rest.
Strapped for cash, Jacob, imposes an upper limit on presents with his wealthy sister, which she duly ignores. My siblings and I have an unvoiced, agreed upon amount!
For me, the best thing about Christmas shopping, should I ever have to be out in actual shops at this time of year is the carol singers. They really do put me in the Christmas spirit - kids from primary schools in shopping centres across the country the last two weeks before Christmas. So, for all of you who still have a lot to do, or who are going to be zipping around on December 24th frantically buying last minute gifts, good luck and take heart from those carollers! Merry Christmas
Susan Buchanan lives in Central Scotland with her partner, Tony and baby daughter, Antonia. The Christmas Spirit is her third novel, published Dec 2013. Her fourth novel, What If, is expected to be released summer 2014.
Here is Susan Buchanan talking about The Christmas Spirit
I always wanted to write a Christmas novel - I just didn’t know it was this one! The Christmas Spirit took me by surprise, as I lay in bed one night trying to get to sleep. The title and the idea came at the same time and then I created the characters piece by piece. I love Christmas, but I started wondering how it would be for those who had little to look forward to this Christmas. And I figured they needed a helping hand!
Twitter - susan_buchanan Facebook - www.facebook.com/susan.buchanan.author
Blog - www.susancbuchanan.blogspot.co.uk
Buy The Christmas Spirit
http://amzn.to/1ewbuRY - Amazon UK
http://amzn.to/1dFw0TJ - Amazon US