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Himeji Castle

Tis the Season to be Shopping

The Christmas season is upon us once again, with joy, good cheer, tinsel, egg nog and hot retail bargains as far as the eye can see. I'm not going to wax cynical about the commercialization of Christmas, because to be honest, I'm not finding it that bad this year. Perhaps this is because my last three Christmases were spent in the hyper-capitalist gravity well of North America, where the urge to purchase is blasted into your very platelets by commercial edifices the size of suns, with voices louder than gods. Australian companies at Christmas seem to say "Er, you might want to buy some of this stuff, if you're not too busy fishing, watching the cricket or swimming in the sea. Whatever. We also have some good deals on beer."

Another reason I feel all groovy about Christmas this year is that I'm actually in the market for buying presents. It wasn't worth sending cases of smoked salmon home to friends and family while I was in Canada, so it's nice to be back shopping for people again. Wow, perhaps my Dad would like a porcelain moneybox in the shape of a cow. Or maybe a portable shaker for homemade salad dressings. Probably not an inflatable Antonio Banderas sex doll, though. Close that browser window.

Present shopping is a bit of a mystic art - balancing what you know about a person and what they like to do, what they already have on their bookcases and in their garages, who they are right now, and who they might want to be in the near future. You also don't want to make things uncomfortable by spending too much or too little on them either, compared to what they spend on you. Well, unless you're incredibly rich and buy everyone double guitars and all-terrain vehicles. Then the rules go right out the window, and you can go pretty much hog wild. If this is the case, I'm particularly partial to GPS units and robot vaccuum cleaners. Merry Christmas.