A generous woman to a fault, she racks up significant amounts of expenditure week in, week out, on birthday cards for people she once met in a pub and other sundry greetings which, when you add in the cost of a stamp and the amount of time it takes her to choose the most appropriate message, can probably be assessed at about a fiver a time.
But in the run-up to Christmas, she goes into overdrive.
I’ve got no issues with little gifts for work colleagues and book tokens for godchildren, even if we’ve not seen the kid since the font.
What gets my goat, though, is the mountain of chocolate that we’re expected to buy at this time of year.
I don’t like telling her that she is in danger of turning into one of those dotty old aunties who can’t quite grasp the fact that the little lad who was once delighted by a Beano annual has moved on, and is now more likely to be found thumbing through Nuts or blasting baddies in some interactive computer game, but it’s true.
Now I have put my foot down in recent years and caused no little family angst on both sides of the generation gap by refusing point blank to buy advent calendars for our two, seeing as they are both now adults. The tipping point came when the youngest scoffed all 24 little chocolates in one go in the first week of December and then decamped to the pub.
But she stands firm when it comes to selection boxes, which have to be provided for, it seems, the children of everyone she knows.
Last year, after a detailed inventory, I had the temerity to ask whether it was absolutely necessary to provide a selection box for 34 people, particularly when most of them were now well past GCSEs and at least one is married.
Apparently it is. It’s tradition. And apparently it is also necessary to spend inordinate amounts of time scoping the different supermarkets for the best two for one deals.
You may be aware that often these deals are restricted to something like six per customer, so that means multiple trips to the shops to sort out the stockpile, either ferrying half a dozen at a time to the car and returning for more or going back day after day. As we can buy six each in any one trip, I am commandeered into this chocolate challenge as a matter of course, and chuntering about the waste of money and the fact that the recipients probably don’t want a selection box and certainly don’t need one is not a wise course of action.
So that’s one of many reasons to be tetchy about Christmas. And don’t even get me started on Easter eggs.