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It seemed like the year had flown by. Hallowe’en, the summer, Easter, even last Christmas, all seemed like only a few days ago.

Yet, here she was, just a few days before Christmas, rushing around the shops desperately trying to find the things her family and friends had asked for.

She still had to shop for food, find a tree- and at this rate it was going to be a fake one, since all the decent real trees would have been bought up already- and get the house tidied and decorated. She wasn’t even remotely ready, and the first of her house guests was due to arrive in just over twenty four hours.

Perhaps. she thought, if she could get all the presents in one place, that would cut down the length of time she would have to spend in town, and she could get home and get the decorations out of the loft instead of leaving it until tomorrow. Everyone liked books, and had listed at least one book that was easy to find.

She charged into the bookshop with the lists in her hand, looking like a woman possessed. She grabbed the nearest staff member.

“Where are your travel writing books? Also, where’s the military history, popular science, humour, and fantasy fiction sections?”

The book store assistant, bedecked with reindeer antlers, guided her around the shop with ease and a friendly good nature, and soon she had a stack of books in her arms.

She bought them all, wincing slightly as she handed over her credit card, but still leaving the shop with a smile on her face. All sorted; all the presents, sorted in one place. Fantastic. She was a winner. Christmas wasn’t going to be a write-off after all.

She bought some wrapping paper and ribbon as she made her way back to the car, and drove home singing along to the Christmas songs on the radio. Feeling festive and all of a sudden ready for the season (the lack of food, tidiness and decorations notwithstanding), she sat down straight away to wrap the books up. She was pleased with herself; going from no presents to all the presents in one day, and to have them all neatly wrapped in pretty sparkling red foil paper and silver ribbons.. All this was quite an achievement, she thought as she smiled at the stack of matching, near-identical presents. She had absolutely no qualms in settling down in front of the television to watch a movie with a big mug of hot chocolate that evening.

It wasn’t until Christmas Eve that she realised she hadn’t labelled a single one of her gifts.

© Kari Fay

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