It’s Christmas Eve, so like any normal, self-respecting man, I decided to go out Christmas shopping. Because why be logical and organised when you can leave it to the very last minute and run around like a headless chicken on the verge of a massive coronary? This year I took my strapping son, Adam, to help me wade through the crowds and fight off autograph seekers. Okay, I admit I made that last bit up.
The cars were queuing to get into the shopping centre at 09:00 a.m. and the huge car park already looked ominously full. Thankfully we shoehorned into a precious parking space and, within minutes, were in our first queue. Friendly staff in ill fitting festive jumpers were delighted to cater for our desperate, last minute purchases. Soon we were out of shop number one and en route to the main event.
My son, having a brain, had reserved said item, a purchase for Fionnuala. This cut out several thousand hours of hanging around and fast tracked us up the queue where a harassed looking member of staff was attempting to appease a very angry looking man. After being informed several times that it was ‘customer policy, Mr Angry stormed out of the store informing anyone within hearing range that it ‘was an absolute joke.’
We never found out what ‘it’ was but I’m pretty certain it wasn’t a ‘joke’ as nobody appeared to be laughing. Adam and I, though, felt quite smug as we sauntered to the front of the line with our reservation order. There was a temporary panic when the very nice African lady behind the counter told us our purchase was £60 more expensive than we’d been told online. A combination of her strong accent and our poor hearing.
When the communication barriers were overcome we all apologised to each other, because that’s what us Northern Irish do, before paying the proper price and heading to the collection point. There were around two dozen in front of us but our number was called within seconds much to the disgust of several fellow shoppers whose looks were very much of a murderous nature. Merry Christmas to you too, sir.
Not wishing to outstay our welcome we beat a hasty retreat to the car passing Mr Angry outside who was telling a shocked woman that ‘they won’t do it, they won’t do it.’ Again I’m uncertain what ‘it’ referred to it but the poor man looked exceedingly short on Christmas cheer. I’m hopeful, however, that as I write this his day will have improved considerably and ‘it’ will all be sorted out.
Leaving the shopping centre, the rest of the world was still trying to enter it. Fellow drivers sat hunched over their steering wheels, all united in their misery. There wasn’t a ‘ho ho ho’ in sight and I doubt even the baby Jesus would have raised a warm smile or kind word amongst them. Is this how Mary and Joseph felt on Christmas Eve? Tired, a little bit grouchy and wishing they had been more organised? Probably.
It worked out alright for them in the end though. Christmas Day was a triumph with shepherds, wise men and the obligatory angelic host. They even got presents although Mary probably rolled her eyes at the impractical offerings from the rich blokes on the camels. Wise men? Yeah, right. Gold, I can use. But frankincense and myrhh? Men and their Christmas Eve shopping. I guess it was a problem even in 1st Century Palestine.
Happy Christmas Eve everyone 🎄🎄🎄