Rediscovering the 'Me' in 'Mumeeeeeee'

'I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife’s badly-cooked dinners and untidy ways'. (Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1861)

December 15, 2009

All I want for Christmas is...erm, nothing!

My second guest this week is the one, the only, Sir* Tim Atkinson. Legendary daddy blogger extraordinaire and better know to most as 'The Dotterel' or as the genius behind a daddy's-eye-view of life in 'Bringing Up Charlie'. A self-proclaimed Victor-Meldrew-in-waiting, this daddy can make the most annoying of experiences a pleasure to read about.

*he's not actually a Sir but hey, the Queen may be reading and if she's looking for ideas for the New Year's Honours List, no better man m' lady.

All I want for Christmas...

Right. Guest Post. Would you like to write a guest post, asked Hazel. Of course, no problem, I replied. I was flattered to be asked. This is my first-evah guest post! Yes! (No pressure, then.)

Ok, ok, so... subject? Christmas (obviously). It's a Christmas Post after all. All I want for Christmas is the title. Precisely. So. What do I want for Christmas? Peace on Earth? Me two front teeth? You see, I never, ever know. It's the same with birthdays. People ask me and I 'umm' and 'err' and end up saying 'nothing - anything... I'm not fussy' which is not exactly helpful.

'What do you want?' people ask. I don't know what I want but I know I want a present of some kind. I mean, I don't. I don't want anything, really. But if someone's going to give me something please let it not be money. Don't misunderstand me. Money's nice. Money's good. Some of life's best things aren't free, and there's never enough of it in the Dotterel household. No. But a present has to be... a present. Doesn't it?

Which brings me to the point, I suppose. I actually like buying other people presents. I enjoy thinking about the kinds of thing they'd like. I sometimes have a flash of inspiration in July, and if they're not around I'll buy someone their Christmas present there and then. I like to think I know the people that I buy for well enough to think of something. And if I don't, well... I'll try to get to know them just a little better. Or not buy them anything. (Joke.)

But it's no joke, really. All I want for Christmas isn't a gold watch or the latest blu-ray gadget or some 'character' Christmas socks or personal, embossed handkerchiefs. I don't want gift books, cufflinks, new ties (never wear them anymore) or a car de-icer, scraper and emergency flashlight gift-set. Nor did I ever want the comedy soap-on-a-rope, the fizzing bathcubes, Guinness bubblebath or eau de dog-basket.


I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want for Christmas. It is this. I want to get the present-choosing business aboslutely right. I want to have succeeded in surprising somebody by giving them something that they didn't know that they were getting, maybe didn't even know they wanted, but that hits the 'just what I always wanted' button the minute they open it.

Not much to ask for, is it? I've been trying it every year for (ahem) rather a long time. I've had my fair-share of near misses. And a few unmitigated disasters. (Actually, you can make a comedy virtue out of buying the most unsuitable gifts for someone, sometimes. But that's another story.)

So what do I want for Christmas this year, next year and for every year to come? The perfectly planned, precisely-chosen, exquisitely thought-out present. For someone else, not me. After all, it's better to give than to receive...

Tim Atkinson (aka The Dotterel) is a stay-at-home dad and author. His blog - Bringing up Charlie - charts his progress as his wife goes back to work, leaving him holding the baby (and changing the nappies). He is also the author of 'Writing Therapy' available on Amazon, or via his own website.



  1. That is so sweet. Really is better to give than to receive, in this case. Now, if you really want some suggestions of fab presents, you're in the right company - we could all leave suggestions, warn off the OH, and you will just have to wrap and get the praise. Oh, and pay, but got to be pain somewhere.

  2. Tim, I'd hate you to be struggling with what to get me: sleepless nights, greying hair, anxious twitches... you know the signs. Plain chocolates will be lovely.
    Thanks for an uplifting post!

  3. I much prefer giving to receiving on the present front and do try to give presents that will be well received

  4. you know what - me too - am a much better giver than reciever and I love buying gifts - you just phrased it perfectly :)

  5. I too would rather receive then give! I love the way you worded it! :)

  6. Christmas is the only time of year I enjoy getting presents for people - I guess half the fun is knowing no-one's getting left out.

  7. What a lovely man you are. It is such fun seeing people's faces when they open that present that you bought them. I love working out whether or not they like the present!

    CJ xx

  8. I totally agree with all the comments to Tim so far. It's a lovely way to think about Christmas gifts and perfectly communicated - as always. I'll be sending the 'pope soap on a rope' to someone else then!!

  9. it is a very nice way to think about christmas. I would love to have this talent to chose the perfect gift. Mine are rather hit and miss. mostly miss.

  10. That's a great thing to wish for. I usually have really good Christmas present ideas for people in March and then I've forgotten them by December. Writing them down might help. I think one way of getting it right is to not get anything too large. A small unwanted present is better than some whacking great thing that clutters up your house (or garage or loft where it gets relegated to). Hope you get it right with the people who matter this year!

  11. I agree wholeheartedly - I used to love buying presents for family and friends and tried to give unusual and some would say quirky presents. So much more personal and thoughtful than gift vouchers I thought. Thought wrong!! My family (not friends)give me endless grief and slagging ad nauseaum about what I lovingly and thoughtfully chose for them. They tell me Give VOUCHERS but there's no fun in shopping for vouchers. No excitement tearing off the paper wrapping and seeing whats inside. Whats left of the child in me still loves to open presents and I find it extraordinary that others do not share
    similar feelings. Am I very much alone in rejecting the easy way out and giving Gift Vouchers? What a lovely man. I'm sending you a verbal posy of red roses. Have a lovely Christmas.

  12. Hi Tim, I took the Dyson pushchair, vaccuuming up doggy doo on the way (my invention has a bag inside not just a canister you empty -blech!-) and zigzagged on over to Hot Cross Mum, where I found you. I, too love to give the perfect present. Hope you have many successes in the gifting department this year!

  13. Sweet old stuff especially that type writer. That will a fantastic Chistmas night.

  14. Thanks everyone - I'm glad I'm not alone, and delighted to be in such good company. Of course, Hazel in her introduction did remind me of the only thing I do want... wonder if Her Majesty is reading?

  15. I love trying to buy the perfect gift too and pride myself on really putting great effort into the whole exercise as it's great when the recipient opens your gift and you can just tell that they love it! It doesn't always work out, but the times that do make the effort worth while for me.


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