essentially just me thinking I am funny

Tis the season to be in a mall...

First published in the Otago Daily Times



“You can’t do another column on Christmas” everyone said. ‘Yes I can’ I thought to myself. There will be a time when I run out of material. I am going to make Christmas last. Easter will be a four part series.

I like to spend the majority of the festive season procrastinating going Christmas shopping, peppered with eleventh hour panic-buying. My sister in law finished her gift buying in mid-October. When she told me this I wanted to stab her a little bit.

My own deadlines have come and gone. I should have sent my overseas family their presents a long time ago. Instead I have found lots of other things that urgently needed doing. If you are doing something else, you cannot, legitimately, feel bad for not doing the thing that is the source of the procrastination. Thus;


- I started chipping then stripping the polyurethane off the living room floor. This, it turns out, was a terrible mistake. My husband and I decided on a PRS (Permanent Rug Solution).

- I made two birds using papier-mâché.

- I painted my hallway and a chair.

- I made homemade muesli bars. Only psychopaths make homemade muesli bars.

- I thought about whether I could get away with giving lumpy bird gifts to people.

- I drew what feels like 47 unicorns for a mad screen printing idea I deeply regret starting.

- I am doing three websites in exchange for random things (stained glass lessons, curtain making and aforementioned unicorn screen-print) instead of money. My husband is thrilled by what we are calling ‘the magic bean method’.


And I still have two weeks to go. By the 25th I will have started a DIY disaster in another room and be sewing all my own clothes.

I like to do all of my shopping in a foot-stamping rage around two days before Christmas. The whole exercise is like a perfect storm of all the things I despise; shopping, crowds, organised fun, commercialism, and the worst kind of music there is- mall music at Christmas time. It is also, I have discovered over the last nine years, absolutely prime time to have a really good public whisper-and-angry-looks fight with your husband.

My husband loves a bargain. He is the guy you see casually counting spears of asparagus in their bundles at the supermarket. You can ask him the price of any item of clothing in his wardrobe and he can tell you, with a story about how he got it for such a ridiculous price via cunning, excellent bargaining skills and a shared fanaticism for his favourite football team between himself and a multitude of retail workers. Because he thought he would get a better deal if people thought I was not a foreigner while we lived in Turkey, I spent over a year mute in every retail situation. “Shutup”, he would hiss urgently, “if they don’t hear you they might think you are from the Black Sea” As a result we can now communicate almost telepathically though ‘tsk’ing sounds and meaningful eye contact.

I am more of a Let’s See How Quickly I Can Get This Done sort of a lady. Three shops, ten minutes each, all gifts bought and out again. I would shop online, but because I am a gold medal contender in the procrastination Olympics I am prevented from doing so because people would receive their presents in the New Year. For me it is a game of how few Christmas songs can you endure before it’s back into the car and away from all the people, some of whom you know and will probably have to talk to.

When one person has a pathological need to get the best price and the other finds shopping intolerable, the two approaches are not gently melded together in a harmonious Christmas shopping experience.  My husband genuinely thinks a pretty neat day is walking around a mall buying a t-shirt for six hours. I have one pair of canvas shoes I wear every day for years and replace for five dollars when I am on holiday. This is fertile ground for passive aggressiveness and the odd tantrum.

The terrible festive shopping outing that is looming ahead has become an annual family tradition. Look out Dunedin, on the 23rd I will be in town and visibly agitated.

But until then, I will get back to destroying my house with grand ideas. George was sure the bedroom had a false ceiling… Perhaps I could try and whack that down over the weekend…


site photography by hakan oktay

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