Why shopping for Christmas is a breeze today

A shopper in the Christmas Shop which opened today in Selfridges on Oxford Street, central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday August 2, 2010. Photo credit should read: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire
A shopper in the Christmas Shop which opened today in Selfridges on Oxford Street, central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday August 2, 2010. Photo credit should read: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire
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At last I am feeling in the Christmas spirit. For weeks I have been moaning that it was “too early” for shops to have their decorations up. Summer was still lingering on in my head and I was definitely refusing to accept that it was now winter.

But something seems to have changed for me. Maybe it is the fact I have actually managed to get my head around what needs to be done to prepare for Christmas. Every year I always get stressed at about this time of year, fearing that I will wake up and it will be Christmas Eve and I won’t have got anyone any presents. I have nightmares that my fridge will be bare and there will be nothing I can do as the shops will be shut. In my paranoid state I even imagine myself starving over the festive period.

The reality is these days the shops are shut for just one day. And with the invention of the internet, shopping for Christmas these days really is a breeze.

Gone are the days when there used to be huge queues in every shop, particularly in food shops. People would be buying up all the morsels they could find. Shelves were stripped bare. It was like living in a war-time.

Nowadays this may seem far fetched as really it is only Christmas Day when shops are shut. And if you really need a pint of milk, it doesn’t take much looking to find the odd shop open even on this particular day. But in my childhood everything really did seem to shut down for a rather long time. Life came to a halt and people had to be prepared.

Personally I used to love it. There was no hustle and bustle. The streets were eerily silent and no roar of traffic could be heard anywhere. I loved it because I was secure in the knowledge that I would be welcomed into the heart of my family as various clan members descended on our home for the festive period.

Cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles arrived bearing bountiful gifts. School was a dim and distant memory with school shoes quickly gathering dust under the wardrobe. And the telly seemed to be wall to wall programmes aimed at us youngsters with dreary news bulletins banished for a good few days. What child would not love this time?

It is only when you become an adult that things change. Suddenly you have got to find money to pay for expensive child care for children idling about on their holidays. Annual leave from work is scarce as it has to be fairly shared with other colleagues who also want to take the maximum time they can off work. And then there is the dreaded fear about who is going to draw the short straw and work Christmas Day. Often this seems to be dumped on the poor childless person in the office who “doesn’t seem to mind,” or so you guiltily convince yourself.

This year is the first year that I think all three of my children understand the treat that is Christmas and there is mounting excitement in the house. And this will most likely be the last year where all three still believe in Santa Claus. My eldest will be eight-years-old by next Christmas and Santa will seem a “strange” thing to believe in.

While the bubble still remains intact, I fully intent to indulge this fantasy, starting next weekend. Father Christmas is popping in to the Botanical Gardens for the Sheffield City Council backed Magical Christmas three-day event.

Santa is just part of a number of festive features for young and old which will be at the gardens from 9, 10 and 11 December.

For more information visit: www.welcometosheffield.co.uk