No, not that one. As the season of over-spending approaches, I’ve been thinking rather a lot about shopping, and how complicated it gets, the older you are.
I don’t struggle to spend money on other people – I have already way over-catered on stocking presents for the children, and I started my Christmas shopping in the summer holidays – that’s dedication! But when people ask what I want for a birthday, or Christmas, I struggle to think of anything that people can actually buy me.
Smellies are not much use to me – eczema means most hand creams don’t like me – I have more jewellery than I could possibly ever need, and ever-disappearing shelf space means I mostly get books from the library (though I’d never turn down a book, of course).
I don’t mean that I’m asking for intangible, precious things like hope, world peace, inner calm – though all those would be nice – I’m thinking of practical, useful things I want, but which no one else can realistically buy me – for instance, I badly needed a new bra, but who can buy me a bra?
So in the pre-Christmas shopping melée online, instead of spending money on others, I bought a new bra half price, and applauded myself for my frugal sensible habits.
Then, I needed new smart boots for going out to Christmas parties (oh, my calendar is PACKED, believe me, everyone wants to hang out with 40-something self-employed mums in Boden tops) – my old ‘mum boots’ are now pushing 6 years old, bought when the big girl was still in a buggy, and far from smart any more.
I’d had John Lewis vouchers for my birthday, and I took a wild punt on buying boots online – and they turned out to be just what I wanted and beautifully comfortable. Again, another personal shopping triumph for a person who hates shopping for themselves. I began to feel quite smug.
I didn’t stop there – I’d always wanted a Tatty Devine name necklace, and when they had a pre-Christmas offer on, I bought one for me and one for a friend. Ridiculously extravagant – I begin to think it’s the effect of having a little extra money to go round, I keep thinking of things I can’t possibly do without, and hey, presto! – I’ve bought them.
The closer to Christmas, though, the more I have to hold back – because what if I buy a thing and then get given it for Christmas?
Having a November birthday, I always have the option of dropping hints after my birthday of things I wanted but didn’t get that time round, and know I have a fairly good chance of getting them six weeks later. (One of the few advantages of autumn birthdays, bah!)
But that means I have to hold off even buying things I actually need – look at the state of my gloves, for instance – and I have two other pairs just as bad.
Can’t replace them, though, ’cause what if I get given new ones? I would feel obliged to wear the present ones even if I liked better the ones I picked out for myself.
I don’t quite know what the conclusion of this blog should be – except to say, don’t feel bad about giving vouchers. People can use them to buy things they need, and that’s priceless, especially if it’s a bra! And it’s nice to be able to tell someone, that voucher you gave me, I bought myself new boots, and I love them! Isn’t that just what we’d all like to hear someone say?