This year’s gifts

Over the last ten years we have changed how and what we give for Christmas with regularity. Basically, we are not keen buyers or givers, and sometimes not even desperately keen to receive. Don’t know what that says about us.

We’ve done the charity shop purchases only, one gift from each person to all the rest (four) and one gift from one person to one other person in an almost secret santa arrangement. We tried maximum cost £10. Or was it £5? This year it looks like we’ll do one for each of us again, with no particular demands on price or where to buy from or anything.

It’s still difficult. But clearly not as hard as for the desperate parents seeking this year’s must have toy. I’ve never done that. And reading about this year’s I asked myself why parents don’t buy them earlier, before the frenzy. Or why they give in to the demands.

When we were still doing charity shop gifts I recall visiting the large Oxfam in central Manchester, simply because of its size. I met a young girl in one aisle who had obviously come for cheap books. Cheap as in the romantic notion that charity books can be bought for 20p. At the time it was ten times that if you were lucky. ‘It’s very expensive, isn’t it?’ she whispered. I had to agree.

She wanted to do gifts, but didn’t have the money, even at Oxfam.

And then there is the other side of charity bookshops in our local Oxfam. The Grandmother was always rejecting my review copies on the grounds that they couldn’t sell them. I kept feeling she was wrong. Must be wrong. How could anyone not want a ‘new’ and recently published children’s book at about half price?

But the thing is, she worked there, and I don’t. She knew. And once I began to think about it, I realised that people who buy for children don’t generally buy books – unfortunately – and if they do, they don’t think of charity shops. If they are wanting a book as a gift, they won’t expect a second hand shop to sell anything that’s new.

It’s a lose-lose situation.


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