Given the weather today, this post ought to be re-titled, "Tis the season to huddle by the fire and refuse to venture outside" - and whilst this is fine for the cats, who are doing just that, it won't help me finish my Christmas shopping.
This year I am, even by my disorganised standards, going for a new world record in Catharine Fails To Get Christmas Under Control. Not a single card has been written or sent, I'm missing various presents for various people and I haven't even thought about what we are going to eat.
I really do not want to have to go out looking for Christmas gifts on a Saturday when the shops will be full of people panic buying foie gras, reserving oysters and stockpiling their own body weight in traditional French Christmas food, but given the week ahead, needs must.
I am working on Monday, helping friends move house on Tuesday, have various meetings on Wednesday and doing the airport run on Thursday, this leaves me Friday. Christmas Eve is out in terms of shopping; due to yet another planning failure on my part. It is the small son's birthday and trailing round the shops is not his idea of birthday fun. His sister's birthday is on the 26th December so I should by now, have sourced cards, presents and birthday cakes. And of course, I haven't.
The only option is to scoot out this afternoon and belt round the local supermarket and hope that some of their idee cadeau stickers will inspire me. The stickers always crack me up. They seem to be applied completely randomly. You see them on toiletry gift sets, hairdryers and over-sized boxes of chocolates. That I get, but a net for your swimming pool? I would have thought that if you have a pool, you can probably afford to buy a net and besides, would you really want the leaves to build up until December when some kindly Aunt provided you with one? And how the hell would you gift wrap it?
Still, it could be worth buying a net or a broom, simply for the amusement value provided by watching the school kids who are inside the supermarket on 'wrapping' detail, struggling to gift wrap the thing. The kids are usually (allegedly) collecting money for their school trip. I know the kids who are 'wrapping' in our local store and the only trips they are interested in are of the hallucinogenic kind.
But gift wrapping in stores is a long-held French tradition and a great time saver. Unless you happen to be in the queue behind the lady who has bought multiple, fragile items and wants them all wrapped beautifully and separately. And you just want to pay and get out of there because your packet of A4 paper is not a cadeau. You just require it for your printer. Urgently.
It also makes your own attempts at wrapping look rubbish in comparison. And it makes buying wrapping paper very expensive. People do so little of their own wrapping that shops charge a premium for tiny rolls of paper. I thought I had struck lucky the other day when I found a 7m roll with a swirly gold pattern at a reasonable price. When I got it home I discovered that the swirly gold pattern only covered a tiny proportion of the roll. The rest was see through and it was actually designed for wrapping floral bouquets. As Max is getting Lego not lilies, this is a bit of an issue. Kind of spoils it when you can see your presents through the wrapping paper. And not really the kind of thing Santa would do.
So I'm going to go for it, brave the thunder and the hail, run to the shops, buy a random selection of bizarre items, get them wrapped by the surly adolescents, come home, pour myself an extremely large drink and refuse to panic about the Christmas Menu. Until at least the 23rd...