Kayt Turner: 'The shop assistant only shot me the briefest of pitying glances before breaking the bad news'

NOW, I don't say this to sound smug - although I accept that it's an inevitable consequence - but I have finished all my Christmas shopping. In fact, not only did I finish it some considerable time ago, it's long since been wrapped and tagged.

It's mainly because our family has so many birthdays in November. There just isn't any money to buy Christmas presents as well as birthday gifts. So the Yuletide pressies have to be done and dusted by the end of October, or at least by the end of the October paycheck - although I do readily admit that the very thought of venturing into overheated, overstuffed and understaffed shops brings on palpitations.

There is one unfortunate side-effect to all this advance planning. And it's not harassed last-minute shopping types wanting to give me a slap. No, since I have all my shopping done, people assume I am somehow free to help them do theirs. "You're in town anyway," they wail. No, I'm at work anyway. I merely walk past a few shops on my way to the office. You, however, have all day free. "Ah, but I don't like going around the shops at this time of year." Well, here's a wee newsflash fer ye, matey - neither do I. The other reason I do all the present shopping in October is that I can return home with my lugs mercifully unaffected by any audio assault from Noddy Holder and his like.

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But with this year's snowdrifts, not only have people not managed to get to the shops, but all those choice little items that they spent hours online selecting are now languishing in the back of some enormous depot in Solihull in the middle of a grit-free zone. That gap twixt tree and tufted Wilton is starting to look awfy, awfy bare. And so, to the shops! To try to buy the same stuff that you bought online - just to spend far more time and money than you ever did on the original item.

"So, if you could just pop into John Lewis on your way into work and pick up a Zhu Zhu Hamsters Grooming Salon. The one I ordered hasn't arrived." Yeah, you and every other parent in the land. Which is why it's sold out in the shops. Of course, I only find that out after traipsing around the toy department for a good quarter of an hour before I buttonhole an assistant to ask about - as I called it - Roo Roo Rodents Beauty Parlour. Thankfully, the charming young assistant only shot me the briefest of pitying glances before breaking the bad news.

And so, around the country the "little conversations" have begun. "Do you remember that present that we ordered for Granny?" was how a friend decided to broach the subject the other night. "Well, because of all this snow, Granny's present hasn't arrived. It's with lots of other presents that won't be delivered until after Christmas."

"Oh, that's a shame," said her six-year-old. "But I don't think Granny will mind too much getting her present later on. It'll be like having Christmas twice. I think that's kind of nice."

The relief at her daughter's astonishing sang froid was almost palpable. "But next year Mummy, you should just get Santa to deliver your presents along with his. He's used to the snow. Because he has the reindeer, nothing stops him."