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Christmas gift ideas to inspire and excite (Satan in the Supermarket)

Updated on December 16, 2017
CJStone profile image

CJ Stone is an author, columnist and feature writer. He has written seven books, and columns and articles for many newspapers and magazines.

Lush Life - 'the schnoz' bronze eyeglass stands from lush life
Lush Life - 'the schnoz' bronze eyeglass stands from lush life

It’s that time of year again folks!

Christmas lights glisten on the rain soaked pavements up and down the High Street, there‘s fake snow and glittery baubles in every shop window, jingley-jangley Christmas tunes, complete with the obligatory bells, follow us around, everyone wants to sell us something, and Sir Cliff Richard has just come out of retirement again. Oh bliss!

‘Tis the season to be jolly. ’Tis the season to spend our lolly. Time to be thinking of gift ideas for all the family.

Thank heavens for the internet. It’s full of wonderful on-line gift ideas to inspire and excite.

Just to give you a sample: how would you like to rip open the Santa-sleigh, snow-scene wrapping paper on Christmas morning to reveal.... a Spectacles Stand? It’s a burnished brass sculpture shaped like a nose on which to place your spectacles, to avoid losing them after reading your newspaper or book. Handy for the bedside table. Unfortunately I’m not all that sure you’d know what it was supposed to be. A brass nose. Hmm, yes. How nice. Just what I’ve always wanted. How did you guess that my own nose was about to fall off? A snip at $350.

Then again, you might like to consider buying the sophisticated gentleman of your acquaintance a battery-operated milk-frother. How could anyone not be delighted by such an exclusive and yet useful object? Frothy milk. It’s as if the manufacturers had read your deepest, most secret thoughts, nurtured since early childhood, to own and control a gadget that allows you to froth your milk at any time of the day or night, in any circumstances. (Batteries not included.)

Imagine. You have a guest around for a romantic evening. You’ve savoured a candle-lit dinner for two and are sitting, cuddled up on the settee, in the flickering half-light, preparing for the customary kiss. She waits. He smoulders. She pouts. He burns. He turns to her with eyes of flame and says, in a deep and sultry voice, “frothy milk darling?” How could anyone resist?

Prior to this, of course, he would have proffered his silver-plated toothpick holder - an inspired gift for the elegant host - personalised with his own initials.

Or what about a Cosy Creatures Microwaveable Reindeer Comforter, an unusual and thoughtful gift for all the family? What’s a “comforter”, you ask? I don’t know, but it’s self-evidently a good thing because it’s microwavable. Very modern.

Or a silver-plated pocket ashtray, perhaps, for those odd occasions - such as in the garden, or on a hike - when an ashtray is not readily available?

Or perhaps you know someone who would like a personalised, solid-glass paperweight (£8.00 + £1.50 post & packaging) into which you have inserted your own photograph, preserved for all time?

Satan buying Christmas sherry in Tesco by William Blake
Satan buying Christmas sherry in Tesco by William Blake

Hell on earth

On the other hand, is shopping on the High Street any better?

I was in Tesco the other day when I overheard a young couple talking.

“This is Hell on earth,” the young woman was saying.

She was referring to the Christmas shopping.

We all have our images of what Hell might be like. I imagine a dark pit of gloom lit by scorching fires, with demons with scaly skin sitting on high stools overseeing the tortures of the damned, like umpires at a tennis match.

Me: I’m a great fan of Hell, having been brought up on John Milton and William Blake.

In Blake’s work Hell is the source of creative energy, while in Paradise Lost you can tell that John Milton is sympathetic to his towering, defiant anti-hero Satan.

I’m not sure you will catch sight of Satan wandering the aisles of Tesco, however, pushing a shopping trolley, forked tail draped loosely over one arm, while he picks out bottles of Christmas sherry from the shelves, two for the price of one.

You will, however, find Mammon there.

Jacques Auguste Simon Collin de Plancy in his Dictionnaire Infernal (1818) describes Mammon as “Hell’s Ambassador to England.” And you might add that Christmas is his time of year.

Personally I am inclined to agree with that young woman in Tesco. I’ve started on my Christmas shopping at last and it is, indeed, a form of Hell.

The problem is that in your desperation to get it all done you go into some form of a blind frenzy. This is a bit like that battle frenzy that Viking Berserkers were said to experience, where they see red and want to kill everything in sight.

Only you don’t see red, you see bargains. And you don’t want to kill everything in sight, you want to buy it.

So I came out of WH Smiths in Canterbury and saw a wooden dragon on the stall outside and I bought it. What a bargain! It was one of those cut-out packs of pressed wooden shapes which you assemble yourself.

It was only on reflection that I realised I had no one to give it to. My son is 30 years old: far too grown up for wooden toys.

This is not as bad as the story told to me by a particular couple of my acquaintance, however.

Every year they go through the same ritual. The wife buys the presents, while the husband has only one present to get: the one for her. And every year he makes a fuss. “I don’t know what to get you,” he moans.

This particular year, exasperated, the wife told him: “If you can’t be bothered to go into Marks and Spencer and look in the women’s clothing department for something in a size fourteen, then forget it.”

On Christmas day she hands him a nice pullover, all wrapped up in shiny paper with a bow. She gets…. nothing.

“But I did what you told me,” he wailed, as his festive turkey dinner landed in the dog. “I remember distinctly you saying I should forget about it this year.”

© 2011 Christopher James Stone


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