A Little Noeledge
Frances Douglas and Thelma Le Cocq
Somewhere, there must be people who Do Their Christmas Shopping Early - but the correspondance-course method of cramping our Dear Olden Golden Yule Daze into less than a week seems more universally accepted. If, on scanning this page you realize you belong to (or possibly form) the first-mentioned group, turn at once to fiction because you're entitled to a little relaxation and pleasure. If, on the other hand, your sole resources for the restive season are six yards of tinsel and the card Aunt Minnie forgot to write her name on last year, drop whatever you are doing and pun along with us to the attack on the great problem.
For 364 days, Foresighted Giftomanes have been urging you to maunfacture:
- and other forms of Christmas Queer.
But what have your flying fingers completed? Not a thing - which shows you're right up to date and in sympathy with the disarmament conferences we've been having lately. Preparedness never stopped a war - and it can't keep you out of The Fight Before Christmas, no matter how yuleproof you think you are. Remember last year? Remember the year before? (Don't if you'd rather not) Wouldn't it be better to get the thing down to a science and leave everything till the last minute?
Gifts are never too late to send - you can always blame the post-office rush - and, following this simple schedule for December 24, the standard damage to constitution, finances and friendship may be achieved in record time:
5:30 a.m. The alarm goes off.
10 a.m. Rise, bathe and dress. At this point suppress any impulse to be seasonal and wear long white whiskers or greeting-card robins in your hair.
10:30 a.m. Eat a substantial but wholesome breakfast also digesting the morning paper to help with your lists. Start with the front page and see if you know anyone who has been kidnapped and won't be back before New Year's.
11 a.m. Make out a list in order of importance, starting with yourself. Check the telephone directory.
11:30 a.m. Look at clock, gasp, grab list, purse, chequebook, letter of introduction to the poorhouse and hit for town.
Noon. Join the pstickerpathic horde in a rush for tissue-paper, ribbon, Scottie-dog seals,small star-shaped seals, jolly hollyseals, threatening do-not-open-until-Christmas seals, and nice enclosure cards that the ink slides off of. These will shame you into buying presents if nothing else will; and while you're at it, better consider the Christmas card situation, supplementing Aunt Minnie's with fifteen or twenty of those that remain - mostly indited to "My Darling Wife" or "Dear Little Son 0' Mine" and utterly unsuitable for Aunt Sophronia, who is 65 and unmarried.
12:30 pm. Make a furtive survey of everything you were hoping someone would give you this year. See what has been purchased, and by whom.
1 p.m. Discouraged by check-up, start gift-shopping with a remembrance for yourself. Charity begins at home.
1:30 p.m. Before swinging into the day's business, fortify yourself with lunch. Don't waste time going home; have it downtown, which will take even longer, since everybody else has the same idea.
2:55 p.m. Dive for the bank. If you don't get in, you have nothing to worry about. If you do get in, you can worry about your balance. Add it up yourself. Have the teller do it. If it were golf instead of banking it would be eagles, giving you an all-time low. As it is, you whole-out, giving yourself an all-time - or long-time - low in the way of a bank account, putting you - like everything else at Christmas - in a seasonable shade of red.
3:20 p.m. Now for the day's business - and remember, it's the thought that counts, not the gift. Work things out something like this:
ie) Althea (aged 10) said to be musical. Hurry past grand pianos and buy her a jew's-harp.
Other lovely gifts such as...Ties, lingerie clasps, toothbrush, hockey puck.
4:30 p.m. Time out for tea or an aspirin. A happy inventory of purchases should be made at this time by the pinch and prod system, revealing:
Three knobbly objects you cannot recall buying.
Nothing that tallies with the day's most important investment.
Three presents for Cousin Guinevere. who doesn't matter.
No present for Grandma, who does.
5 p.m. Again wassail the counters - frantically this time. Don't worry about Marquis of Queensberry Rules - this is Christmas Eve, not Boxing Day. Ignoring list, think of Grandma and buy her 6 presents, to make sure. Then, as the stores start putting up their shutters and taking down the "Do Your Christmas Shopping Early" signs, rush for a few little rememberances, suitable for anyone you may have forgotten. These naturally will include:
Calendars - you'll discover later they are last year's.
Handkerchiefs - initialled with Q,X,or Z.
Boxes of chocolates - slightly bashed, but still tasty.
5:30 p.m.By this time your own dog won't know you. You will resemble nothing so much as a loaded burro in the last gold rush, and it's all right to go home provided you have collected one Christmas tree, complete with base, one bushy plant in a large pot, two bushels Christmas greenery, ten yards Christmas lights, one 15 pound turkey, candles, nuts, crackers, fruit and other useless yulery not herinbefore mentioned.
6 p.m.Arrive home. The dog doesn't know you.
7 p.m.Dinner, if you can manage it.
7:30 p.m.Settle back to enjoy the spirit of Christmas. This is the hour the poet wrote about - remember? "'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse." Which applies perfectly except:
All the children
Revellers who manage to get inside
Carollers who fortunately wait outside
And the cook, stirring up last-minute pudding in the kitchen.
Taking advantage of this quiet hour, settle back to wrap the wrong gifts for the wrong people - putting in cards meant for somebody else with love-and-best-wishes meant for nobody. At this point two courses are open to you: Go out and deliver Christmas presents - in which case you freeze up; or stay home and receive callers - in which case you are expected to thaw out. Decide to stay home. This way you won't make the mistake of giving presents to anybody who didn't give you one. And you still have the fun of guessing what's in which and who it's for - having made the mistake of putting all the tags on the inside.
Midnight The witching hour finds you with a brand new assortment of lumpy packages. Feel them half-heartedly. Decide against opening. They're probably identical with those you sent out yourself. Next move toward bed. Remember Christmas tree lying on the veranda. Observe box of decorations still unhung. Attack furiously, cutting huge swaths in cedar branches, holly sprays and mistletoe boughs. Baffled by final wreath, end by hanging same over your own picture. Realize you are having hallucinations, and retire, observing that Christmas is No-ell.
12:30 p.m. Time now for a good sleep - you fought for it. Keep awake long enough, however, to make a resolution - in future to Do Your Christmas Shopping Early. Drowsing off, this seems to have a familiar ring. You must have made a similar resolution on some other occasion. Can't remember - and anyway one Christmas at a time is all anyone can stand. Determine to forget resolution. You will - till the following Christmas Eve.
- Maclean's magazine, December 15, 1934