So we are in the countdown to Christmas.

As usual, I’ve already bought my kids too many presents. Worse than that, I’ve given them some already. I know, me who bleats on about the homeless and people in need and here I am squandering.

I didn’t even realise how much I’d overspent till the husband told me he thought someone had stolen his credit card details and gone on a Paypal spree.

No, dear husband, that would be me, wanting, no needing, to buy the kids festive pyjamas to wear on Christmas Eve, kitsch nativity sets and more fairy lights.

If only I’d got in with those thieves in Worthing, who posed as shop dummies in Beales department store as it was being locked up then spent the night shopping, leaving with £10,000 of goods.

They obviously got the idea from Home Alone 2. When I watched Home Alone 2 all I was thinking about was when it was going to end. What a fool I was. I should have started practising “sleeping lions” in preparation.

I wonder if the thieves (who have yet to be caught) used the classic line from the film before they went in as part of their talk [Harry to Marv] “Everybody leaves for a nice holiday. We come out of our nice little houses, we empty the registers and then walk out like we own the joint.”

As it was, my husband did not tell me off for over spending, instead he told me about his friend Richard Pringle, whose three-year-old son, Hughie passed away in August after a brain haemorrhage. Yesterday Richard wrote this on Facebook:

“If you asked me what I bought Hughie for Christmas last year I honestly couldn’t tell you. If you asked me what I bought him for his last birthday I’d really have to think.

“Ask me what we did last Christmas and I can say clear as anything we were with my family and we went out for a lovely Christmas walk. Hughie was dressed in his bright red winter suit and wellies jumping in every muddy puddle he could find.

“His last birthday we went to a car show and he raced around having such a great time.

“It’s so important to remember as we get caught up in all the Christmas hype that you’ll never remember the material things. Presents don’t matter.

“Spend time with each other not money on each other. Make memories together this Christmas. Don’t think that spending all your money on presents creates happiness.

“A lovely Christmas is all about appreciating each other, appreciating what you have and enjoying every moment. That’s what’s important.”

Needless to say, I feel suitably chastised.

Why am I trying to buy love and happiness? I even bought my cat a stocking and an elf costume for the miniature dachshund.

We have health, heating and hot running water. Anything above that is a blessing.

I can buy all the light-up festive jumpers I like, with reindeer headbands to boot, but I’ll never have my beloved Aunt and Maurice round my Christmas table this year.

My dad won’t have his sister. My friend won’t have her brother, nor my other friend her darling mother. My list can go on and on, as I am sure yours could too.

We don’t raise our glasses to broken hair-straighteners or iPhones with cracked screens.

We raise our glasses to people. We tell stories already told before, we carve with a tear in our eyes to those we cannot feed: that’s Christmas.


In other news Brighton and Hove “Friends of the Earth” have called for bin collections to be fortnightly instead of weekly to “save money and boost recycling rates”.

I can’t see how, in a city full of lazy students, that this news will be welcomed by anyone, although the seagulls will be cock-a-hoop.

Even bigger festering bags of food and foul nappies, sat waiting for them to open like sacks of Christmas presents.

For those who read this and want to order a larger bin in preparation, I would not bother. The questionnaire is longer and more complex than an adoption application and you get no bin at the end of it anyway.


Pesky kids in Peacehaven have been accused of trying to ruin Christmas after tearing down the tinsel in the Meridian Centre which volunteers spent their own time and money on.

The same yobs have also been accused of throwing ice cream, claims the police are investigating. I must say, if I was part of the angry, dissipated youth, I’d think of something a bit more daring than ripping wreaths of holly off the wall. Who on earth were they trying to impress. It’s hardly throwing a TV out a hotel window is it?