Eau de toilette pours in to fill the space

CHRISTMAS is coming. The time of bonhomie, festive jollity and presents.

Having to like people can be a pain, but I love the presents. And not just receiving them. I love giving them, too.

Except to my mum.

Every year I go through the same agony: what the hell am I going to give my mum? Every year I come up with the same answer: I don’t have the faintest idea.

When you are trying to dream up a gift for an 82-year-old mother, and your brain is empty, eau de toilette pours in to fill the space.

The only way my mum could possibly get through all the eau de toilette I’ve brought her over the years is to drink it, and judging by some of the things she says nowadays, she probably is.

I’m 58, for heaven’s sake. This means that in my life I have probably had to come up with 58 gifts for her. That’s not so many. Surely any vaguely creative person could come up with 58 different and mildly original gifts?

The trouble is I’m not the only one. If you count in-laws, nephews and nieces there are at least 38 other people all facing the same problem.

Her drawers contain so many sachets of Australian potpourri she has been officially identified as a fire hazard.

Why is it that mothers are so difficult to buy for!

She has every ornament known to the human race. They crowd her already-overcrowded house. They gather dust on shelves and mantelpieces. Many of them are ugly (not the ones I bought) and none of them are useful.

I have even made her stuff. She said she liked that because it was more personal, but she wished they didn’t fall apart when you touched them.

I have tried videos, books, and clothes. She looks at me differently now. Evidently my taste in videos and books is questionable. And she says my taste in clothes is… well, a bit young.

At 58?

I am in despair. I mean, I love my mum. She gave me an air rifle one Christmas that I treasured for years. When the most important thing in my life was a bicycle I woke up on Christmas morning and it was at the foot of my bed.

She always knew what I coveted at Christmas and it always turned up with tinsel and ribbons round it.

Now she is obliged to spend her Christmases covered in enough perfume to preserve an elephant, and with her nose in drawers full of eucalypt leaves.

You can’t even ask her what she’d like. I do, and she says “nothing.”

Nothing is not an option I am prepared to consider. I tell her she’s not being fair. She tells me she’s got everything she wants.

I can understand that. You have to move round her lounge room by sliding sideways down narrow corridors formed by stacks of ornaments, eau de toilette and potpourri.

She says that’s not what she means. She says she’s got a lovely family and great memories and that’s all she wants.

She says its funny that her children give her all this junk on purpose and much more valuable stuff by accident.

More people should think like her. If I could pour it into bottles and tie ribbons round it I could make my fortune.