Christmas comes just once a year, but why so soon?

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I CAN’T believe it is only six weeks to go until Christmas. I was still shaking sand out of some of my shoes last week as I carefully put my summer wardrobe to the back of the cupboards and brought my woolly jumpers forward. So how on earth can it now be deepest, darkest winter when I still have the sound of the sea in my ears?

Yes I know the nights are getting longer and darker and the weather is certainly taking a colder turn, but I still don’t feel ready for Christmas.

I have systematically ignored the baubles and gaudy decorations which litter the high street shops and supermarkets.

For weeks they have been festooned across umpteen shelves and you can’t move for tripping over one decoration, glitzy wrapping paper or stuffed Santa. And every year I say the same thing – “This is far too early – why do we need to be reminded Christmas is just around the corner when it is still only September?”

But somehow it is no longer September and I really do need to catch up. If I am not careful all the carefully selected toys my children have been writing to Santa about will be sold out and I really couldn’t bear any disappointed faces in just a few short weeks time.

So this weekend I am going to make a point of going online and even heaving myself round the shops while the other half keeps the children out of the way, to get the bulk of the mission done.

And it really is a mission. Not only do I have to think what would suit three very different children and also be affordable, I also like to give each of them stockings with little things that are completely precious and special to them.

This means specially named items of clothing or pencils or even tickets to great shows.

So I really must get organised and get it all done.

My colleague at work is great at being on top of things. She informed me this week she has got everyone’s Christmas presents all sorted and even wrapped some. I absolutely marvel at her organisation.

OK she doesn’t yet have any small children snapping at her heels, but even if she had I feel sure she would be one of those whose would buy everything in the January sale the year before just to make sure the presents were all sorted in time.

Every year I find myself scrabbling about in the last few weeks racing against time to get the exact thing I need for one child or another. Long hours are spent often fruitlessly tapping away on the computer as the clock ticks down to the main event to try and get that must-have item. Either that or I trawl every single shop buying what I can to make up for the lack of that must-have item.

And as I do this each year I curse myself saying “Why on earth didn’t you start this earlier? Next year you must do better.”

But somehow next year comes and I find myself still in the same position. And the weird thing is I get loads of magazines through the door in the months leading up to Christmas and I list numerous ideas of gifts. So how come I don’t just go and order them when I see them? I seem incapable of learning.

One thing I am sure not to miss in the run up to Christmas is the annual Christmas Lights switch on. Spice Girl Mel C is headlining the Sheffield City Council-backed event at Barkers Pool and the Town Hall at 5pm on Sunday, November 20. For information visit: www.sheffield.gov.uk/out--about/city-centre/christmas/lights