Advent Thought For The Day: 20

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December 20th: A Grim Getaway

I am on the 06.52am train from Broadstairs to London’s St Pancras Station, en route to Lincolnshire for a business meeting. Despite there being five days remaining until Christmas Day, the train is already discernibly quieter than on a normal Thursday. The schools have started to break up, and for many people today will be their last day at work. Not so for me, as I’ll be working right up until Christmas Eve. Only then will I understand how this most challenging of retail seasons has played out.

Tomorrow, December 21st, has already been dubbed ‘Frantic Friday’. It’s predicted that over 2.8 million additional car journeys will be made as people head home or to visit relatives for the Christmas break. The traffic today will only be marginally lighter. In total, over eleven million extra car journeys will be made this week. That’s equivalent to the entire population of Greece or Belgium making a single road trip. It’s at times like these that I am grateful that I don’t have to run a car, although upheavals on the train network are on the cards. On Christmas Eve I am expecting the trains to be empty, especially at 05.50am when I board. Who else would be mad enough to travel at that hour?

Meanwhile The Sun, a newspaper not known for understatement, claims that ‘torrential rain and gale force winds will cause travel chaos for millions‘, citing thirty-five flood warnings that have been issued for the south and west of the country by the Environment Agency. These conditions are not unusual for the time of year; it seems that we quite often experience extreme weather events prior to Christmas Day, before things settle down to be dull and unremarkable on the occasion itself. A White Christmas is not on the cards. Anyone from beyond our shores should immediately dismiss the idea that we all go traipsing off to church on Christmas morning, leaving footprints in the sparkling snow whilst kiddies throw snowballs at one another. This simply does not happen …. ever. The fictional scene makes a nice Christmas card though.

Assuming anyone gets where they want to go over the next two days, they will then have to face ‘Super Saturday’, the obvious successor to ‘Frantic Friday’. On the first day of the weekend, ten million people are expected to hit the shops, spending £1.4 billion, whilst another five million people will spend £270 million. The majority will be looking for a bargain and they won’t have to try very hard. Boxing Day sales are now as much of a dinosaur as the January sales, with almost every retailer marking goods down well before Christmas Day. It’s a gaping hole that retailers have dug themselves into and not a nice way to shop. In my late teens and early twenties I used to love going into Bath on Christmas Eve and completing my Christmas shopping. If I hung around long enough I occasionally got to grab a bargain in the stores where the staff were just a bit trigger happy with the pricing gun. Now one can do one’s entire shop at markdown, but any satisfaction in saving a few pennies is fleeting when one knows it will be even cheaper post Christmas. This is not how I like to shop, and why I buy most of my Christmas gifts throughout the year, when I find something that’s ‘just right’.

Should you be travelling over the next few days, I wish you a safe and speedy journey. When you arrive at your destination I hope you receive a warm (and dry) welcome. And if you still have shopping to do, leave early, buy once and buy well. TFG.

Categories: Christmas, Musings, Travel, Weather

Posted by The Frustrated Gardener

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5 comments On "Advent Thought For The Day: 20"

  1. Ahh yes….the frantic last minute dash – no longer to find the ‘right’ present but to snap up a bargain – I am with you, I absolutely hate it! Taken all the pleasure out of shopping. its now more about ‘bargains and stuff’ than a thoughtful gift choice. Like you I try to find special things throughout the year that are generally not available in our shops, so at least I have had the pleasure of the search and the joy of seeing a happy and excited gift recipient.

    So whilst your ‘fantasy’ white Christmas doesn’t exist I can report that the Aussie Christmas of BBQ seafood and pav is alive and kicking and that is how we will be spending Christmas night…. with a cold beer and crisp chardie and probably a swim in the pool.

    Happy Christmas Dan – Luv from Oz xxx

  2. I always purchase gifts through out the year. I started doing that when I worked full time. It just made the holidays easier. Now it seems that shopping is always chaos, worse during the holidays. It will be rainy and cold here for Christmas this year. We sometimes have some snow but not very often. Snow adds a little extra drama to the holiday.
    I hope by now your meeting is over and you are headed back home. It won’t be long now and you will be able to stay home with your feet up, drink in hand.

  3. I’ve just finished the shopping … somehow it was much more laid back this year. I think it’s because my husband did all of his side of the family and there are loads of them! So I’m now lying in bed with a stinking cold and wondering if he’s left any of the wrapping paper for me! I can’t bear to go to the shops again! Katie

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