Thursday , February 27 2020
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Zen and the Art of Christmas Shopping

“Herro and ahhh so” from me, The Dalai Headlander, as I hope to guide you through the stresses and strains of the annual consumerfest argy bargy of pre-Christmas scrummaging… i.e. gift shopping. Whilst the current Mrs Headlander is whipping herself into the usual retail frenzy I am adopting a much more relaxed attitude. I have decided to do Zen Christmas shopping and if you will listen to me, your very own Dalai Headlander, I will share my wisdom and tips on the subject. Whether you want them or not – as usual!

The idea of Zen shopping is that people may not actually get what they want but they will surely get what they need. This philosophy was taught to me many years ago at a party by a chap called Frank who was happily dispensing the cocktails. Approaching him with an empty glass you would ask him for a harvey wallbanger and he would give you a whisky sour… and when you told him that the supplied beverage wasn’t what you ordered he would hold up a finger and say “It’s no mistake… you may think that you want a harvey wallbanger… but what you really need is a whisky sour”. Three hours later, after drinking many different concoctions that I really needed and having listened to his pontifications the party started winding down a little… and as I was lying there on the floor I had an epiphany and understood at a very deep level that he was right and I was about to wet my trousers. Again.

So… how do we apply this Zen attitude to Christmas shopping? Easy… first of all… people ask for all kinds of things that involve stress and bother… remember the difficulty people had a few years ago getting hold of Buzz Lightyear toys for example. So tip one is not to take orders for presents. If the potential recipient of the present says  “I want”… be clear that they may not get it… set the expectations early.

The second tip involves thinking about the recipient’s personality… If you know a glutton then buy him/her something they can eat and/or drink… a pair of underpants probably won’t make them happy… unless they’re edible of course! Make a list of the people you have to buy for… note down a few personality traits and then select a present accordingly… here’s an example. First, define the personality of the recipient:

Camella (Mrs H’s sister) – Yawns like a camel, loves gadgets, drives a car (and her husband up the wall).
Boss Hogg (Camella’s long-suffering spouse) – intelligent bloke who loves drink, music, drink, food, drink, lazing on a Sunday (or any other day really) afternoon and drink… in fact he’d drink anything – including toilet duck – if Camella would let him.
Satanspawn (Nephew) – bright lad who loves superheroes, being stroppy, Doctor Who and winding up his uncle (ME!).
Uber Mumsie (Mother-in-law) – loves shouting, tapestry and baking.
Mrs Headlander… lovely, wonderful caring goddess with absolutely no issues whatsoever whose bum never looks big in anything and is always right.

And now some potential present ideas based on the above facts:

Camella (Mrs H’s sister) – A bell with which to summon her husband and a two way radio that she can order her drinks with when he is out of earshot (e.g. when he is in the kitchen cooking or washing up).
Boss Hogg (Camella’s long-suffering spouse) – books, drink, CD, drink, luncheon vouchers, drink, new couch, drink. Just any sort of drink really – the cheaper and nastier the better!
Satanspawn (Nephew) – Hannibal Lecter mask, chains and a big lock for the outside of his cell.
Uber Mumsie (Mother-in-law) – Megaphone and a bag of flour.
Mrs Headlander… Anything she asks for or my life is going to be hell for the next year!

And finally… the most important tip of them all… don’t get stressed yourself by buying presents! Decide what you want to get for an individual and go and get it quickly and easily… or even better get it delivered! Search a few websites and if you can find something suitable that can be delivered then buy it straightaway before doubt sets in and save yourself hassle! Tesco or Asda can deliver things along with your shopping and you can stay in and watch the telly. And if you really can’t decide what to buy someone then give them those wonderful vouchers that can be spent in any store… i.e. money! This is especially popular with any man who has a drinking habit to support.

In addition to the normal presents, Mrs. H and me are buying each other an extra gift this year… we have a budget of £10 each and we have (i.e. she says we have) to get something from a shopping channel on the telly. I pointed out that as it generally costs £8.99 for post and packing + £1.50 to call and order the required piece of tat that the budget is already blown but she says that it’s a tenner on top of that… bloody hell… I’m seeing a night down the Pint and Fight disappearing over the horizon here!

I’ve seen her watching these channels closely and I arrived home the other day to find her watching Ideal World (or it could have been QVC or Bid TV… God only knows). She was just putting the phone down and was switching the channel over… she swears that she wasn’t ordering anything for me at that particular moment but I have my doubts… before the channel was switched I could see that it was “Drill Bit Hour” (I promise I’m not making this up) so we shall see what Santa turns up with. If it’s drill bits then he’s going to get a third eye!

Anyway… enough of that stressy talk. This is the Dalai Headlander wishing you a happy shopping experience this Crimbo. Remember… as Confucius once said: “OK” Which wiseguy bought me this bloody loincloth? I wanted an iPod!”

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