I was shopping for Secret Santa presents before Christmas. Desperately hunting around WHSmiths novelty gift section for something remotely funny, or something that even just slightly hit on the personality of the person that I had to buy for. He's a nice sort of chap; likes his football, a couple of beers in quirky pubs, good mates with my boyfriend and we'd been to university together... But there was nothing hilarious about him. Nothing that stood out as something I could pick on with a carefully (and evilly) chosen gift.
I was finding it a bit tricky. Everything I picked up from the shelves seemed a perfect present for me. The Simon's Cat 2012 calendar that I knew would look fantastic on my kitchen wall. The Rubik's cube - because I've always wanted one and could clearly never do it. A set of sticky moustaches, of all colours and styles - brilliant - (and perhaps useful?)
I wandered over to the magazine rack, thinking that there could be something hideously unsuitable to give him, like Bliss magazine for teenage girls. My eyes flicked fiendishly across the shelves. Men's Health...? He wasn't particularly known for eating too many pizzas, so perhaps that wasn't insulting enough. I knew he loved his football, and recalled the deep depressions he got into after Manchester United lost a goal, an opportunity, or - God forbid - the actual game.
"ah-HA!" I whispered to myself as my eyes scanned the Sport section and plucked the Chelsea FC Official Club Magazine off the shelf, knowing it would really piss him off - which would be quite funny for me. Then I threw in the sticky moustaches for good measure. Yes. Everyone loves a sticky moustache.
As I took my secret Santa gift over to the counter to pay, something being advertised on one of the stands at the front of the shop caught my eye. A mug - on sale. It made me stop to turn it over, chuckle to myself and look around to see if anyone had seen. It was THE most perfect secret Santa present - but for me. I loved it. I had to have this mug. I thought about buying it right there on the spot and pretending I'd got given it for Christmas. But maybe that was really sad, so I left it there on the top of a pile of other mugs, and thought that maybe, just maybe, my secret Santa might get it for me.
Apparently, I'm too old for stockings at the bottom of the bed at Christmas. Last year, I felt so despondent that I might miss out on one of those wonderful, crackly, crispy, heavy sacks of presents that I informed Liam early in November, that I'd be doing him a stocking this year - and that I would like one too.
I spent ages thinking about what he'd like (this time I picked serious, lovely gifts, and thought about all those things he needed, but wouldn't buy himself). I got him a beautiful vintage leather bag for work, a matching belt, I even crocheted him some fingerless gloves (which maybe he wouldn't buy ever... but I was determined that he would like). I'd been patient all day, slightly nervous that he might not appreciate me buying him Disney's Robin Hood on DVD (because it was obvious I'd wanted to watch it too), or think that the really useful changing colour egg timer I'd found in the shop was a bit silly. It was early evening on Christmas Day and we'd just cleared away the dinner plates and sunk into the sofas in the living room when he looked over to me, winked and said;
"Shall we do our presents now?"
I jumped up and followed him upstairs. Lying on his bed all exciting in a crisp, white pillow case was a lumpy bag of crunchy presents. I squealed.
"Can I go first?" I asked, acting like a five year old.
"Sure! Go for this one." He said, picking a square shaped, neatly wrapped parcel out of the pillowcase.
As always, I peeled the sellotape off carefully, tearing the corners just a little, enjoying the way the paper sounded as it ripped. I saw a flash of shiny blue. I held my breath and my eyes boggled.
"No way...!" I said, leaning over to kiss him.
There, in my lap was the mug I'd seen and loved. I couldn't believe it.
Today, it sits proudly on my desk, slightly inappropriate for a posh, corporate reception and it still makes me laugh. I get it out the cupboard every morning to make a cup of tea (not too milky, one sugar please) and potter back to my desk. I like how it's become a bit of a talking point, a conversation starter. And I always say proudly;
"My boyfriend brought that for me. He knows I'm not normal, and I quite like that."