By Jeanne Hambleton©

Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet? Yes, it is unbelievable – here we are enjoying an Indian summer in the UK (in most places), the festive decorations have not yet appeared in the shops, the Santa Claus cards are not in the racks, even the summer sales are not over, and yet my fibromyalgic friend has DONE her Christmas shopping.

I found this hard to comprehend until I asked her how and why she did it.

Of course she told me about her aches and pain, chronic fatigue but worse still, about her IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and problems with her waterworks. Quite apart from the problem with fibromyalgia these nasties had left her housebound and a bit depressed. So guess what – she turned to a bit of retail therapy. Unable to get to the shops – not having the energy or the stamina to fight her way along the High Street – she went on-line looking for bargains and from what she tells me she enjoyed every minute of it and did well.

There is a small draw back to shopping on-line – you usually have packing and postage to pay – but put that against all the aggravation and the next three days you will spend in bed recovering from the ordeal, I guess it is not a bad deal.

You also have to consider that parcels from on-line shopping arrive during the day while the family are at school or work. This gives her time to unpack, wrap, label and hide the Christmas gifts without anyone having a clue. The man of the house thinks she has not spent any money on Christmas and the kids think they are not getting any presents. Best of all she is buying at summer sale prices before some the top gifts are mysteriously unavailable or creep up in price as Christmas gets nearer.

It all started for my friend with the arrival of two new grandchildren – within weeks of one another. She thought she would buy some baby gifts but got carried away. Now she has bought on line a pink one of this and a blue one of that. My dear friend has been secretly and quietly shopping on line for weeks.

If I were to start shopping now for the big December date, not only would I forget (fibro fog) where I had hidden the presents, but I also would not remember what I bought for who and who I had forgotten. I am already guilty during my long drawn out shopping experiences of buying twice for one person and nothing for another…ooophs. Also I cannot get rid of my family long enough to have any privacy in my house. If I go to the bathroom, someone wants to wash their hands – manic. If the postman rings the doorbell with a box too big to go through the letterbox, everyone rushes to the door and says, “Is it for me?” So what chance have I got of keeping any secrets? That is my excuse and I am sticking to it.

My festive gift scenario is a bit different. Pacing is not a word in my dictionary and if I am well and flare-free not only would I shop till I drop, but I would work till I stop. So it is often a couple of big shopping trips. In my house it goes like this – can you imagine after you have used all your energy stuffing the damn turkey and cooking mince tarts, wrapping gifts at 1am on December 25th and THEN finding you had forgotten Aunty Lyn or Uncle Charlie – disaster! Where would I get a jazzy tie or a bottle of perfume at that time of the morning when the shopkeepers have all gone on holiday?

But I have made that mistake all too often – so in my Christmas ‘hidey hole’ (the broom cupboard but don’t tell him indoors – no-one goes in the broom cupboard) there will be an extra box of chocolates, a scarf (which I like if I am not forced to give it away), and a bottle of alcohol, which someone in the family will drink – all this just in case! Not very original I know, but it can avoid a lot of embarrassment. I even wrap them in Christmas paper but I am careful not to label them. I discover what is in each parcel by the shape and I squeeze the gift… not recommended if it is cigars, chocolate mints or Danish Blue cheese.

“Excuse me, I will just pop and get your present (from the broom cupboard). Sorry I did not have time to label it – you know what a rush it is,” I’ll say adding. “This is the only place that is safe from prying eyes.”

I should hasten to say none of my family or friends read what I write, so they will never know that I had forgotten them when I use that excuse…. I hope.

So what has my friend bought on line – a wonderful bargain with her Christmas cards and wrapping paper and she was thrilled with the decorations. I have to say I was a bit green about her fibro optic greeting tree – no longer a Christmas tree – I wonder why? Surely nothing to do with PC (politically correct?) This was down from £70 to just over £23. How do they do it? The most appealing idea about this is I would miss all that aggravation when one of the bulbs in the Christmas tree lights is not working and him indoors gets so vexed he forgets the “f” word is fibromyalgia.

I must just digress for one moment. My lovely little grandson attends a local day nursery. When his mother went to collect him yesterday she was told by one of the nursery nurses, that one of the little lads had learnt a new word. It was truck spelt with an ”f”. So she suggested we all watched out for a new word in my grandson’s vocabulary. What a delightful way of burying bad new. But at least he did not hear his grandfather use that word. We are now all saying ‘truck-it’ when we drop or spill something. I am glad they do not call me a ‘trucking mother’ or any derivation of that word….I am a bit old fashioned….this is what comes of being a grandmother.

My on-line friend got carried away with a festive tablecloth, serviettes, candelabra and crackers with nice gifts, ‘all at good prices’ she said. I had to remind she was talking to me, a friend, not her husband, but she said it was true, really.

She had bought pink and blue Christmas stockings for ‘Baby’s First”, a teacher joke book for the kids; books for the family (easy to wrap or post), a couple of family games, and a raincoat for Poochy, her Maltese dog at just over £4 and a dog tee shirt for her daughter’s dog, Dandy.

I am told she was spoilt for choice and the list was endless – all available on line. You really do not need to wait for a Christmas catalogue – you can start looking in your own home shopping catalogue right away and get an extra discount of first orders and sometimes delivery free.

But if you are looking for something different why not get some gadgets or gizmos. I found this website which has these amazing new fandangled things – why not log on and look

If you are looking for something to make the mood romantic a laser cosmos will provide a room full of stars – but this is not a cheap option at £149. With my perverted sense of humour, something at the cheaper end of the market appealed to me – a choice of two the red alert buttons. At under £7 each there is a choice of a panic button and a one to do with bull’s faeces – do I have to spell it out? This one tells it how it is and puts those tiresome colleagues in their place. Or for the fiddler in your family (we all have one) – the UberOrbs might be the answer for under £10. They are described as the most addictive magnetic finger fiddler things on earth.

If you have a family member who suffers with SAD – this depressive lack of sun syndrome – you could buy a Sun Jar. As jars store jam, this one stores sun. It sits on the windowsill (on sunny days) and at night it glows with the sunshine…. at £20, this is all down to a solar charging mechanism.

I think my favourite was the bendable light up computer keyboard. You can shake the biscuit crumbs out of it, you can spill coffeee on it, the keyboard is silent, it lights up and you can roll it up and put it in your pocket. Fantastic at a penny under £30 for the computer guy or gal who has everything. At that price you could always make it a Christmas and next birthday gift. So Dear Santa I want one of those please….. well that is if you are unable to bring me the new silver 4×4 car I fancied.

Incidentally it is time to start writing the “I want…” lists before the family ask what you want for Christmas. Start now and you will not forget anything important.

If you want to support the FM cause why not log onto the 024 shop – – great for practical Christmas gifts and you own “wants” list.

If you look at the menu on the left you will find store items including jewellery, FM pins, poetry book, FM glass coffee mugs, a cook book, lovely tee shirts, key ring, and a life story FM book. Apart from all that you can join the chat pages and make friends.

So my dear feint hearted fibromyalgics, here are some more gadget and gizmo websites to look at for ideas to save your weary legs and aching back. Hope you are on broadband – you will get so interested the time will fly.

So forget the strain, avoid the pain, and shop on line – but do take care your provider has a secure credit card policy.

Sorry but I must add a disclaimer – I am only the writer – it is your choice if you chose to shop with any of these sites. I have no knowledge of some their shopping policies or their products – only what I have read on the Internet.

Just take care and remember to write down how much you are spending and when you save a page, use the website address in the save title. Companies will take your credit card number and often send goods without any invoice. Unless you copy what is on the screen or go to print and preview and save, you will have no record of when you made the purchase or the cost and may be facing a big bill. Beware – shop wisely – know your limit before you shop. Have fun but take care. May I be the first to wish you Happy Christmas?


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