As we push into February, cast your minds back to Christmas. Alternatively: Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Bodhi Day, Solstice, Yalda, Yule, Festival of the Ass (legit!), or plain old Holidays, whichever your particular persuasion.

Good memories, mostly. With one notable exception:

Shopping.

Yes, each and every year, gathering gifts extracts a good deal of my Christmas cheer. I’m quite aware of the irony — the joy is meant to be in the giving and all that. But… seriously, it’s horrible out there. Three weeks of trench-to-trench warfare fought on various fronts. We fight them in the malls; we fight them in the car parks. Sweating through crowded malls under a few thousand pounds of presents and pretty baubles. A soundtrack of infuriatingly upbeat jingles. Fake snow on fake trees; two year olds tugging on fake Santa’s faux-beard. Bored-looking teenage elves… It’s all very magical. 

Worst of all, at the end of this horrific experience, we’ve usually dropped too many dollars on underwhelming presents. It’s enough to rob the fruit right out of my plum pudding. (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

Every year, without fail, I repeat this experience. But not this year. No… this year I finally did what any self-respecting Gen X has been doing for years — I did my shopping on the line. And, oh — the revelation. No more chaotic carparks. No more dodging harried parents, cleaving crowds with strollers, banshee wailing from within. Best of all — no mediocre gifts to give at the end. Granted, half the presents never arrived in time to be hauled from their wrappings on Christmas day. But a great present in the mail is still a whole lot better than a bad present held resentfully in hand. Probably.

So, could it be that the answer to a better Christmas — a better experience — lay in the tiniest of tweaks? We pondered…