The Art of Giving

Happy Holidays - T. Al Nakib

The festive season is upon on us. Christmas trees, holly, mistletoe, fairy lights - it's all there. That, and Christmas wish-lists.

When I met my husband some ten years ago, I was introduced to the concept of the Christmas wish-list. I was marrying into a family that was supremely organised and left nothing to chance. None of that fake smiling on Christmas Day and a quick dash to the shops on Boxing Day to exchange the nose trimmer/super-hoover for something more beguiling - no, in this family we plan. We send lists and woe betide anyone who strays off-list. So, as December hits, so do the emails. "Do you have your wish-list available yet? If not please forward it as soon as practicable."

As such, I recently received the Christmas wish-list for my younger niece and her husband. (P - may I now apologise for ruining the surprise of Christmas Day as one part - and may I stress a very small part - of your present is now going to be revealed.) The list I received informed me that P wished for a black, silicon skin for his Blackberry at the princely sum of 99p. Naturally I leapt at this very reasonably priced opportunity to delight my niece's husband on Christmas Day. I went onto Amazon.co.uk (the list had come through with a link to the site) and added the skin to my basket.

A day or so later I check my item and to my horror, the link does not match that on the shopping list. I had chosen the wrong 99p black, silicon skin. I must re-start my search. I search for the email sent by my niece but it's vanished. What am I to do without the link? I'm going to have to go it alone and find the right black, silicon skin. Several minutes later, I'm still unable to locate the chosen item. I, therefore, decide to broaden my search and, shock horror, my price band. I start looking at black, silicon skins at the £2 and above bracket and at £2.47, I get lucky. There it is, black, silicon, and everything needed to protect a Blackberry from the onslaughts of modern day life.

So what do I do? Do I add it to my basket like any normal person? No, what I do is to start reading the reviews. The reviews for a £2.47 item. Twenty minutes later I discover this particular item should not be purchased. No less than two people have had problems with delivery. Well, I can't have that - what happens if we get to Christmas Day and P searches through his presents and does not find his black, silicon Blackberry skin? A tragedy in waiting and one that I cannot be part of.

The search continues. Several moments later I find a substitute. Same price (result!) and again I check the reviews. These are mainly positive however there is one that concerns me. It seems that this particular skin can stick when being pulled out of jeans pockets - depending upon how tight the jeans in question are. A quandary indeed. I have no idea how tight P wears his jeans and I hardly feel it appropriate that an aunt (and an aunt by marriage at that) phone her niece and enquire about the tightness of her husband's leisure wear.

I continue the search and finally strike upon an item that can:

a) be delivered in time for Christmas Day and

b) seems not to have any problems with being retrieved from pockets no matter how body-hugging they may be.

So P, as you open the plethora of presents on Christmas Day and delight in the myriad of delights in front of you, spare a thought for the black, silicon Blackberry skin. As you open it, please don't discard it to one side with a careless after-thought. Be rest assured that more thought and attention has gone into making this item special for you than you can imagine.