It's no good saying Christmas is not all about presents, writes Pat Veltkamp Smith in And Another Thing.
We know that.
But having set up the Christmas crib, cleared the decks for a few more cards, made a cake and loosely organised a home-and-away Christmas break, after all that we need to think about presents - several of which should have made the overseas post a month ago.
Not to worry.
However late we post them, within reason, they make it for Christmas but adhere to the post-early guidelines and they hit home in November, parcels to be devoured eagerly, possibly consumed and then forgotten so that on Christmas Day gifts are sought in vain.
You cannot win. That's an old tried-and-true adage, which Trade Me has proved from Christmas morning on, as people think "Oh no not another . . . " or "I'd rather have the money".
You hope to avoid this by careful choosing of gifts or by giving things that really won't cut it on Trade Me - soap, chocolate, socks and scents.
But who knows? Maybe . . .
Then there are gift vouchers for everything from motor oil to massages, but they often have a short shelf life.
You might have to cash vouchers in within, say, three months and who knows that?
Into the less personal, but useful, category come garden vouchers, DIY and petrol vouchers and my favourite, a booklet of movie tickets.
The wealth of material grows every year with CDs, DVDs, phone cards and boxed scenties.
While we might struggle to say what we want, we usually have a clear idea of what we do not.
For me, and I know I speak for others, that includes dusty talcum powders, kitchen gadgets that need batteries or have to be "programmed" and foot spas - I have two, more than sufficient for my needs.
It pays to remember children's toys do not come with batteries and since there is nothing sadder than a wind-up which doesn't, make sure to have batteries on hand so that everything works and not just you.
There's a child at the heart of every Christmas but children are not the only reason to celebrate.
We are all involved - families, individuals too.
Worth remembering, that.
» Pat Veltkamp Smith was Southland Times women's editor until 1997 and is a former president of the Southland Justices of the Peace Association.
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