Helen’s Good For You Guide to Xmas Shopping

As the autumn gloom begins to seep into my mood and my aquafit instructor informs me there’s only 63 days until Christmas and my teenage son comments on how hard it is to get out of bed on the darker mornings, my thoughts turn to Christmas shopping.
“Don’t mention the C word!” some of you may be shouting at the screen. “It’s too early. Are you mad?”
Quite possibly, yes. But I can see why our ancestors thought it was a good idea to put a festival bang in the middle of winter. Something to look forward to, something to celebrate – colour, music, family, food, gifts…what better way to lift the gloom of dark mornings and even darker evenings? Unfortunately, the great expectations put on us by the media and people around us often cause huge financial, physical and emotional stresses transforming Christmas into an event to anticipate with dread rather than excitement.
In response to the numerous people who have told me to think positively over the last 24 hours, here are my perceived benefits for starting my Christmas shopping now.
Pretty things are good for me.
Looking at pretty jewellery, pretty accessories and pretty bags definitely lifts my spirits. Original design, vibrant colour, attractive texture…. I know what I like and what I like lightens my mood. Call me superficial, but is it so very different to appreciating fine art? Taking pleasure in what someone has made is to my mind celebrating the act of Creation itself. So deciding on the Fair Trade Double Heart Bracelet and Necklace for my sister-in-law’s birthday restored some light to my soul. Something within me responds to the recycled silver designs from La Jewellery. Whatever your taste, there are such beautiful pieces out there and the appreciation of beauty can be good for you.
Thinking of others is good for me
My relatives can correct me if I’m wrong, but I have quite a reputation for buying good presents. I’ve obviously made some terrible mistakes – who hasn’t? – but I rarely resort to cash or gift tokens and prefer to buy something that reflects the thought that I have put into the choice. Over the years, this has got harder as we all see each other less and less often and live further and further apart (Facebook may help me this year as some of us have kept in touch a little better). Anyway, at a time when I’m tempted to retreat further into my shell, it is good for me to spare a thought or two for my friends and family. As I choose gifts and wrap them and write gift tags, I like to think about the person and fill the package with prayers and best wishes and hopes for the future. The whole experience takes me out of myself and my little world. I’m so excited about the Fair Trade Ari Sitara Handbags that I’ve chosen for two of my nieces, which look great on the page and even more fabulous in reality. I love them and think they’re beautiful and I hope the girls will know that I think the same about them.
Ethical choice is good for me
I’m often tempted to despair about the state of the world and how small my individual contribution to change actually is, but my consumer choices for Christmas do help me to feel that I am doing my bit. Over the years, I have always battled with a slight embarrassment that the recipients of my gifts may be sick of ethical presents. However, this year, I have overcome that. There is nothing to be embarrassed about. The quality and choice of ethical gifts out there are fantastic. I am not compromising when I buy the Fair Trade stainless steel salad servers or serving spoons, which I love the design of and think look very stylish – just like my relatives for whom they are intended!
Being prepared is good for me
However much I have fought it and denied it over the years, I now accept that I do not function in the same way in the winter as in the summer. Call it SAD, seasonal depression., whatever you want – this year is the first year that I am going to factor in this change in my mood and behaviour. Being prepared and getting my Christmas shopping done early will hopefully reduce the emotional and physical drain that Christmas often becomes. Making choices about gifts while it is still a pleasure and not a burden makes perfect sense to me. Choosing the Vinylux Vinatge Vinyl bowl because I think it’s really cool and unusual for my cool and unusual nephew far outweighs a last minute desperate stab in the dark. Hopefully this will conserve what little energy I have in December for the things that really matter. 
Spreading the cost is good for me
Contrary to what my husband may think, I actually do not like spending money. It panics me inside and whilst I enjoy choosing gifts, I detest paying for them. One of my greatest anxieties about Christmas is how much it costs and how we will afford to pay for it. I do not want to appear stingy, nor can I afford to be extravagant – how hard it is to find the middle way. Like most people, I am planning to cut back on spending this year. So imagine my joy when through forethought and careful searching, I discover perfect items at reasonable prices, like the Fair Trade HOT pot stand at only £6.95. Hopefully, it really is the thought and not the cost that matters. And spreading the cost relieves the pressure on the bank account too.
So sorry if I have offended you by mentioning Christmas too soon. Sorry if this is all a foreign language to you. Sorry for those of you who have no idea what I am going on about. But to those of you who do, maybe these words will be of some comfort to you. Maybe these ideas will help you to have a very, very happy Christmas.

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