Forgetfulness becomes seasonal hazard

My horoscope this week read: "Try to stick to your budget this week. Your usually frugal nature gets left at home while you max out the credit card. With a little bit of prior preparation and planning you won't have to live in debt this season."

I wish I'd read it last week.

With only seven sleeps 'til Christmas, I'd forgotten that making sure everyone is catered for does require a little forethought and forward planning.

And although I had vowed - as I had in previous years - that I would not leave things 'til the last minute again, I forgot to put that piece of wisdom on the top of my to-do list.

Christmas always creeps up on me - this year more than most - and despite having an idea of what the three little cherubs all wanted from the guy with the long white beard this year, I realised that leaving your run too late can cost you not only time that would been better spent doing something like cleaning the house, but also a bit more pain in the hip pocket.

But it's Christmas after all and, as a dear friend pointed out to me the other week, what's the use of hanging on to the green stuff too long when you never know what tomorrow will bring. It's better to spend it on the people you love so you can enjoy life together.

My husband is used to my forgetfulness during the festive season. The usual routine on Christmas morning sees him forgotten in the rustling of torn gift paper and the frustrations of trying to assemble gifts that require "no assembly", or searching for batteries that were not included. It's around lunchtime, when Nan has put the pork on the table, and the hordes have descended for the feast, that I remember that his own present is still hidden in the back of the cupboard or in the boot of my car.

Last year he solved the problem by buying his own gift, putting it under the Christmas tree, and acting surprised when he unwrapped it and proudly showed it off to the gathered family.

When I quizzed him about which "Santa" had snuck in to deliver his Yuletide greeting, he informed me he was sick of never having something to unwrap in the morning with the kids.

I pointed out that patience was a virtue and good things did come to those who waited and that the firepit he handed to me was a somewhat unusual gift, to which he informed me that it was part of his plans for his 50th birthday in two years.

This year I have employed the kids to find out exactly what he wanted from St Nick - with instructions they had to deter him from anything to do with fishing - so I could ensure he got what he most desired.

And, although they did their job admirably, in the madness of the last shopping days' rush, I forgot to go and get it. So in the next few days, on top of organising plates of food for the class Christmas parties, finding that something special for the teacher, coach, guitar master and kids' best friends, I have to try to find the present I've been instructed is at the top of Dad's wish-list.

I'm positive that I'll be able to hunt it down, hide it and probably forget it by next Tuesday morning and come Christmas Day, he'll have once again wrapped up his own "World's Best Dad" mug just in case.

But no matter whether there's that little something under the tree in bright paper, the best present any parent could ask for is healthy, happy kids and the love they shower on you at any time of the year.

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