Not So Simple Gifts

Oh, God. It’s already December, and as usual, I’ve forgotten that Christmas isn’t just an orgy of vulgar and empty consumerism. It’s an orgy of vulgar and empty consumerism I have to make happen, by buying stuff. And I haven’t even started thinking about what I’m going to get my friends and family, let alone hammered the old Amazon one-click express.

Well, that’s not quite accurate. I know what I’m going to get them, and so do they. Books. It’s the only thing I know. Some people specialise in clothes (my friend Jess is able to spot a rare chic cardi from across a high-street mosh-pit like the Attenborough of H&M). Some specialise in homeware (my sister somehow knows I need a crêpe pan before I do). And some specialise in super-long silk-mix thermals (mum). I do books. I read all the reviews (in lieu of having time to read the actual books themselves) and I’m pretty good at matchmaking unexpected author-reader chemistry (oh the risky triumph when Claire met Dumas!), so I can usually come up with something a bit different to prod people out of their comfort zone.

But even such an apparently benign present category is socially fraught.