Ah, Christmas. 'Tis the best of times and the worst of times. On the upside, there's the way the entire commercial world stops for a day so we can all eat, drink and be merry. And on the downside there is the way the commercial world leads us all up to that day, otherwise known as 'the Christmas rush'.
If you are planning on risking your life by going to the shops during this period, here are 10 thoughts that will probably go through your mind as you elbow someone out of the way for the last box of red-striped-because-they-match-my-table-scheme Christmas crackers.
1. Oh my god! There will be no (insert signature Christmas food here) left for my Christmas feast!
Last year in our family lunch collective, the Christmas ham was allotted to me. I left my run a bit late and then totally panicked, telling myself that there would be 'none left' by the time I got to the David Jones food hall. In this state of mind, I rushed in, grabbed the first ham I saw (deciding that because it was the 'last ham in Australia' I'd just have to pay the $349 asking price as my punishment) and made my way to the checkout.
On my way to the checkout I saw a whole lot of other hams: all manner of sizes and price-points below $100. These reasonably priced hams were still available to anyone who wanted to buy them. It slowly dawned on me that this $349 ham I was about to buy was not the last ham in Australia. I was merely caught up in the Christmas syndrome known as: 'OMG there'll be none left'.
2. Next year I'm going to do all my shopping online
When you are standing in the queue at the fancy candles and doodads shop and the sales assistant asks every person in the queue ahead of you to recite their name, address, phone number and email address in order to claim a 10% 'membership' discount, you swear to yourself that next year, NEXT YEAR, you will order everything online. Then next year in November you again find yourself thinking: no need to panic, I've still got plenty of time.
3. Are these really the only Christmas songs available to play over a shopping centre sound system?
As the first verse for Mariah Carey's, 'All I want for Christmas' starts up again, directly followed by the distinctive puffing synth riff of George Michael's, 'Last Christmas', you really begin to wonder if any musician anywhere has been doing anything since the late '80s.
4. Christmas shopping would be so much easier if men liked scented candles and fancy hand creams
Buying for women is easy: we can never have enough scented candles and fancy hand creams. But men? What do they like? Barbecue tools? Ties? Shoe cleaning kits? Novelty aprons? Elaborate shaving kits with bristle brushes and hangers for their razors? What do men like?
5. I really should have bought these big rolls of Christmas wrapping last
There's no way to effectively carry big rolls of Christmas wrapping. They 'timber' out of the bag, they point the wrong way and goose the person in front of you in the queue, they're just a literal pain in everyone's date. Word to the wise: buy your Christmas wrapping as you exit the centre.
6. No time for chit-chat, it's Christmas!
I appreciate that everyone is full of Christmas cheer, but when we're four deep at the Haigh's counter and the women up front are too busy catching up on Lachlan's latest exploits to notice the queue has moved forward, all my Christmas cheer goes out the door. Move up! We are all waiting to buy giant peppermint frogs for our nephews!
7. I think I need more tinsel for my tree
You never need any more tinsel for your tree. You will always have too much tinsel. Do not buy anymore tinsel. More tinsel will not solve any of your problems.
More tinsel will not solve any of your problems.
8. No harm buying something for myself while I'm here, it's my Christmas present to me
Staying on target in large shopping centres is hard. Which is why sometimes we find ourselves accidentally buying lots of really good stuff for ourselves and a few lame boxes of chocolates and tea for random aunts and uncles we probably won't even see this Christmas.
9. Consumerism will be the death of us all
Sure, it's a dark thought for Christmas, but there's nothing like seeing steely-eyed shoppers pushing giant trolley-loads of cheap generic gifts to make you swear off capitalism and go off-grid for the rest of your natural life.
10. Will I ever get out of this carpark alive?
Just when you think you're out, the Christmas retail frenzy pulls you back in and you find yourself crawling down carpark ramps in a queue of tail lights, wondering if you'll actually get that $349 ham home in time for Christmas lunch.