But enough of wisdom for today - I felt that we had had enough of that, and a little frivolity was in order, considering the festivity of the season.
I have started reading a fascinating little book called Scroogenomics by Joel Waldfogel, subtitled 'Why you shouldn't buy presents for the holidays' (he actually means Christmas, rather than going to Barbados, but I think that is one of the linguistic divides across the Atlantic).
And I am afraid, dear readers, I have fallen ... this was bought new from Amazon, but in my defence, it wasn't available in the library, and it was cheaper to buy new. (But I might well pass it on to some poor defenceless soul as a present, so in that case it wouldn't really count, would it?)
I am only on chapter five, but Professor Waldfogel has already persuaded me that I will get far better value for my hard-earned spendidos if I buy presents for myself rather than for other people. And he quotes all sorts of figures to prove what I have always suspected, that a very large proportion of presents miss the mark by a wide margin.
You only have to look in a few charity shops to discover this (I call it empirical research): their shelves are populated by countless boxed gift sets of bubble bath and other scented accoutrements, myriad novelty alarm clocks with integral bottle opener, and other barrel-scraping 'novelty gifts', which I imagine as travelling on a endless circuit between desperate givers and hapless receivers until the sticky tape becomes too yellow and brittle to fool anyone.
So having justified myself there, I can proudly present a couple of recent acquisitions that are 100% efficient from an economist's point of view, because they are Christmas self-presents with which I am most delighted. The two-dollar earrings (handmade by Silja in Estonia) coordinate beautifully with my new party dress, although unfortunately I lost one of them in the process of shopping for the said party dress, which is why I have decided that two-dollar earrings are the way to go for me, because I lose earrings at a horrifying rate, to the point that I have lots of singles, and not many pairs. I will have to affect odd earrings as a sibylline style statement from now on, I think.
As for the party dress, my sister suggested that such an item was a superfluity in my wardrobe, as I never find myself at a party. Well, I can always live in hope on that front, but the appellation 'party' was not a statement of intent, or even wistfulness, on my part: the dress was hanging plaintively on a rather undistinguished rail in a local charity shop, and on the price label, someone had written 'PARTY' in bold capitals next to the price.
And who am I to argue? If the dress wants to call itself a party dress, I am happy to go along with it - it will give me a party feeling wearing it; just like that bubble bath, things might happen if I array myself in its silken folds (or maybe not, maybe I'll just pretend).
And just because it likes to call itself a party dress, that will not prevent me from wearing it with jeans and wellies, as I told my dear mamma who was with me at the time, when she, also, indicated that a party dress was not warranted for people with a limited social life and an eccentric tendency to underdress, anyway. Her response was that it would not surprise her at all if I did wear a party dress in that way, as it was the 'sort of thing I would do'. (In case you were in any doubt, we do have a very doting relationship based on an affectionate and amused incomprehension of each other's endearing little foibles.)
I am not sure how I have ended up interrogating the role of the party dress in the wardrobe of a country bumpkin, when I meant to extol the virtues of my pesky squirrel from Dottie Angel, which honestly makes me smile when I wake every morning. The squirrel is the first thing I see as I open my eyes when the Head Chef brings me my morning cup of tea in bed, without which beverage I find it physically impossible to rise from my couch.
Tif's parcel was wrapped so beautifully, and so much after my own heart, in sheets of paper which began life as the pages of glossy magazines, and tied with yarn of such a blue that it was totally consonant with my current obsession with shades of teal, duck egg and petrol blue (unfortunate name for an ecowarrior, that, I will have to think of another when it comes to describing yarn and cardigans and party dresses). And there were also buttons - I actually had to sit down for a bit while unwrapping such a heavenly parcel, it was just all too much for me, hence the drunken slant of the photo below.
And Anthropologie catalogues: unfortunately I think the likelihood of finding such anthropological and sartorial beauty in the charity shops of East Kent is infinitesimally small, but one can always dream and travel hopefully.
And a beautiful Japanese magazine called Come Home, which actually moved the General to come down from his celestial plane of teenage superiority and infinite wisdom to comment on the graphic design, which apparently has far more white space than is thought of in his universe.
I have always read magazines from back to front, so that part was quite easy, and I was fascinated by the way that the domestic objets were lined up in a grid formation on the surfaces, whereas being of the Country Living school of decoration I have always favoured artful angles and a certain amount of dichotomous asymmetry.
Now I did want to tell you a tale of a Princess and a pesky squirrel, which is what impelled my purchase from Tif's shop, and ask you the question, 'Is it unkind of a mother to hang by the maternal pillow a picture of an animal with which a child has a vexed relationship, or does it count as graded exposure, and thus a form of behavioural therapy?' but sadly and unfortunately, I feel the sands of time and the stream of words slipping away.
I do, however, feel that a headline which says 'You don't bring me flowers' (and which I have, alas, unintentionally lost, along with numberless earrings), is one of the utmost profundity, and one upon which I propose to meditate for some time.
It might seem to contain a most ineffable sadness, but I hope I have persuaded you of the solution to such disappointment: just buy yourself a charmingly frivolous present, for I am sure that nobody else will.